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Exhibition: August 21, 1968

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Czech Center New York Gallery

321 East 73rd Street

New York, NY 10021

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An army of soldiers of five Soviet bloc states - the Soviet Union, Bulgaria, Poland, Hungary and the German Democratic Republic - invaded the country with heavy military equipment including tanks. People were horrified and strolled into the streets to protest the occupants.

The exhibition includes photographs by Vladimír Lammer, Libuše Kyndrová, Dagmar Hochová, Miloň Novotný, Jiří Všetečka, Miroslav Martinovský, Václav Toužimský, Jaromír Čejka, Bohumil Dobrovolský, Jiří Stivín, Gustav Aulehla, and Jan Reich, among others.

At the beginning of 1968, the so-called rebuilding process began in Czechoslovakia. It was based on the utterly misconceived idea that the regime established and maintained by brutal methods can be democratized and humanized by moderate reforms. If successful, it would probably lead to the loss of the power monopoly of the Communist Party, the re-acquisition of full political sovereignty of Czechoslovakia, and, in its consequence, to the collapse of the Soviet bloc.

However, Moscow has interrupted all hopefully started processes in a harsh and ruthless manner. At the night of August 20, 1968, an army of half-a-million soldiers of five Soviet bloc states - the Soviet Union, Bulgaria, Poland, Hungary and the German Democratic Republic - invaded Czechoslovakia with heavy military equipment including tanks. People were horrified and strolled into the streets to protest the occupants. Against the well-armed military, they did not have a chance at success by merely protesting with their bare hands. The strongest protests took place in front of the building of the Czechoslovak Radio in Prague. The unarmed citizens prevented free broadcasting literally by their own bodies. The clashes with the occupiers also occurred in many other places throughout the country. The aggressive and ruthless behavior of the invaders resulted in the death of one hundred and thirty-five Czechoslovak citizens. Another five hundred of them were seriously injured in 1968.

The military occupation of Czechoslovakia enabled conservative forces in the Communist Party to stop the democratization of the society, place the situation under their control, and conclude a contract which allowed Soviet troops to have temporary stay in the country. This temporary period lasted another two decades. On the basis of a forced agreement, a so-called Central Group of Soviet troops settled in the territory of Czechoslovakia. It consisted of about seventy-five thousand soldiers disposing of heavy machinery and aircraft.

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Czech Center New York Gallery

321 East 73rd Street

New York, NY 10021

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