Old Photos: Czechoslovakian Crisis 1968

With a new wave of revolutions in the Middle East, certain historic parallels come to mind. In the last 50 years many countries experienced revolutions, some were violent and others peaceful; some turned out to be successful and others failed or brought about a slew of unintended consequences. We remember the most dramatic ones, or maybe the ones some of us witnessed in person; others were forgotten or drowned in the stream of worthless entertainment news. Whatever happens in the Middle East, the odds for the positive outcome are not very good.

In 1968 the Soviet and other Warsaw Pact troops invaded Czechoslovakia to prevent it from straying away from the Comminist party line. The Life Magazine covered the events in the issue headlined “Czechoslovakia:Death of the Bright Young Freedom”. I don’t remember this subject being covered in our school history books; if it was, the official version would have likely be completely removed from reality. The only time anyone mentioned it to me was when my Father talked about someone he knew who was serving in the military in 1968 and was deployed to Czechoslovakia.

Czechoslovakia would stay Socialist until 1989.

The events of 1968 play a prominent part in the movie The Unbearable Lightness of Being.

© Time Inc. Harry Redl

Russian troops, one holding a copy of the newspaper PRAVDA, lounging around by their tanks during the Soviet invasion. Prague, Czechoslovakia,August 1968 © Time Inc.Bill Ray

© Time Inc.Bill Ray

© Time Inc. Bill Ray

© Time Inc.Bill Ray

© Time Inc.Harry Redl

© Time Inc.Bill Ray

© Time Inc.Harry Redl

© Time Inc.Bill Ray

© Time Inc.Harry Redl

© Time Inc.Bill Ray

© Time Inc.Bill Ray

© Time Inc.Harry Redl

  • Burrowowl

    Looking at the line of tanks lining the street (the fourth shot shown), and a couple things spring to mind:

    Boy those are some shiny tanks. I don’t remember the last time I saw such a pretty armored unit.
    It looks like that guy in the brown jacket has an RPG slung over his shoulder. You’d think the soldiers would have something to say about that.
    The tanks are all in order, 019, 020, 021… Wait, where’s 024, 026, and 028? Didn’t their political officer tell them there’d be cameras?

    • Soviet army spent significant amounts of time polishing and painting the equipment for various commanding personnel visits. Some of our stuff had more coats of crappy paint than metal. It was especially true for troops stationed abroad. So I am not surprised how they look. I wonder if in 1968 there were officers who fought there in 1944-45.

      • Frank Laurenzana

        The ability to “koseet” or take a 2 hour job and make it stretch for 8 hours and make the officers believe it was true was an extraordinary ability of the Russian soldier.

  • Coolvalley

    Nice uni’s. Looks like they’re wearing the cleaner versions of what they were wearing in April of ’45 in Berlin.

    Did anyone else notice that Mick Jagger is in almost all the pics?

  • Anonymous

    That whole thing was caused by a bad Czech incident.