The 27th anniversary of the beginning of the Velvet Revolution in then Czechoslovakia on 17 November 1998 brings back memories of a less peaceful uprising in 1968.
Reconsidering the past, young Europeans have been asking to the people on Pragues streets: Where were you when the troops of the Warsaw Pact invaded Czechoslovakia on 21 August 1968?
Jaromir Maděryč, 63 years old, Moravia (Czech Republic)
„We were just unpleased of communistic politics, because before we didn’t know these. Before Second World War our system had been better (as my parents told me); so all of us wanted to reset it. We missed it. We wanted to be free. People reacted differently: I for example, as a young boy (I have been 15, 16 or something like this), tried to stop Polish tanks, which had entered Czechoslovakia. But (of course) I didn’t succeed.”
Anonym, 70 years old, Germany (studied in Czechoslovakia)
„At that time I was thinking that nothing will change. It is always like this in history. Powerful states are occupying small countries (like before Germans were occupying the Czech in Second World War) and the Russians – our so-called ‘friends’ – then. (…) In 1968 I was living in Thüringen. Reading the first issues of newspepers, I havn’t be able to find many information on these events. I didn’t know, what was going on.”
Eric Baucum, 54 years old, California (US)
„We were only kids, we were young. But I remember some media coverage. I mean, the US were in the Cold War with Russia. The Czech Spring was actually more positive recognized in the US that time.
We certainly wouldn’t have travelled. I mean, I would never think of coming to this part of the world when we knew, the Russians were moving forward. It was not necessary, but it was just a fear of being there, when this was happening.”
Edward Salhacek, 71 years old, California (US)
„I remember, that the Russians were unquestionably moving forward and trying to strenghen their power over the countries or groups of people. So they have been very aggressive and we became scared what could happen to us. Nothing really would, but I as a young person I tought about things that might happen to us, if they were so aggressive. We saw them as the enemy.”
Alexander, 67 years old, United Kingdom (England)
“I had just moved to London for studing when Prague was occupated. I was about 23, quite young. Radio and newspaper were the most important media on these days. Everybody talked about the reaction of the Czechs and the revolution, they transmitted their strength to all Europe.”