Saturday, August 21, 2010

Wenceslas Square and Prague Spring

Many historical events in Czech occurred at Wenceslas Square in Prague.  The square is more like a broad street than the usual square.  The first photo is looking south-east from the edge of the old town towards the National Museum.  The other is looking in the opposite direction from the steps of the National Museum. 

In 1968, the then Czechoslovakia leadership tried to introduce liberalizing reforms that bring in some degrees of freedom of the press, freedom of speech, and freedom of movement.  It was referred to as the Prague Spring.  It was said to be socialism with a human face.

Unfortunately, the then Soviet Union did not approve.  In August 1968, armies of four Warsaw Pact countries, from the Soviet Union, Poland, Bulgaria and Hungary, invaded Czechoslovakia.  Thus ended the Prague Spring.  On 19 January, 1969, Jan Palach, a student, set himself on fire on Wenceslas Square to protest the invasion. 

The Prague Spring, even though unsuccessful at the time, helped to expose the true nature of Communism.  It has had a heavy influence in the subsequent developments against Communism in Europe and elsewhere.  China Spring.  Croatian Spring.  The song “They can’t stop the spring.”  Milan Kundera’s “The Unbearable Lightness of Living.”   The 1989 Velvet Revolution.  The iconic use of the number “68” ...


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