The Soviet Invasion
of Czechoslovakia:
August 1968

Materials from
the Labadie Collection
of Social Protest Material


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List of Newspapers


Special Collections Library
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor

Invasion and Resistance

 

One of the immediate causes of the Soviet invasion, aside from mounting fears that Dubcek could not control popular pressure for change, was the plan to convene a Fourteenth Party Congress in September 1968, whose delegates would elect a solidly pro-reform Central Committee. The invasion changed the schedule, and the Congress was held on August 22nd--over a thousand delegates disguised as workers made it past Soviet troops to convene at a factory in Vysocany outside Prague. It issued proclamations condemning the invasion, supporting the reform process, and threatening a one-hour general strike (document 2A). The strike took place as planned, but power was already shifting out of the reformers' hands.

Hastily worded pamphlets and flyers, often with typos, often mimeographed on cheap paper, spread information about the occupation, calling on Czechoslovaks to resist peacefully and reaffirming popular loyalty to Dubcek and the other reform leaders, who had been interned in the early hours of the invasion and shipped off to Moscow for "negotiations" about the country's future. Newspapers and magazines continued to publish, often with the words "Legal" or "Free" added to the masthead to indicate that they were not in the hands of the occupiers (documents 6D and 6E). Radio continued to broadcast from secret transmitters even after the central radio building in Prague had been battered into submission (see the dramatic photograph in document 6F). Flyers printed in Russian were designed to explain the situation to Soviet soldiers, many of whom had little idea of where they were or what they were doing there (documents 5A and 5B). Graffiti in Russian was also common, as the photographs in documents 6G and 6H show.

 

 

 

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