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Prague Spring

We propose to solve the serious and urgent problems of contemporary life to the best of our knowledge and beliefs; the thoughts and plans which lead us did not fall easily into our lap. They result from the hard and often expensively paid experiences of previous years.

Action program of the Communist party (1968)

A major milestone in the history of the Communist Party was the Prague Spring. After his election as the first secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party in January 1968, Alexander Dubček announced a reform program to overcome the crisis in the communist regime, which had a number of causes. In response to the political liberalization in the spring of 1968, civil society came to life very quickly. The leadership of the Communist Party soon came under pressure from both the Soviet side and its allies, who criticized the planned reforms and liberalization of conditions, which was most prominently announced in culture and the media. Movement was also visible in the Communist Party, which gained at the time, unprecedented popularity. In September 1968, the Congress of the Communist Party was to due to take place. The die hard Communists fear of the exchange of party officials was one of the reasons for the August invasion of Czechoslovakia.

Přesně v 17 hodin  9.srpna přístálo na ruzyňském letišti v Praze zvláštní letadlo z Bělehradu, na jehož palubě  přicestovala na krátkou oficiální návštěvu do Československa delegace ústředního výboru Svazu komuniostů Jugoslávie, vedená předsedou SKJ a prezidentem Socialistické federativní republiky Jugoslávie Josipem Brozem Tito.  ***dobový text*** Prezident Josip Broz Tito(vlevo) a první tajemník ÚV KSČ Alexander Dubček

Alexander Dubček (1921-1992) grew up in the Soviet Union. In 1939 he joined the then illegal Communist party of Slovakia and in 1944 he participated in the Slovak national uprising. In the years 1955-1958 he studied in Moscow. In 1963 he was elected the first secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU. He gradually came into opposition against Antonín Novotný, whom he replaced in January 1968 at the head of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia. He became the main face of the Prague spring and gained huge popularity. After the events of the 21st of August 1968, he opposed the occupation of Czechoslovakia and was abducted and taken to Moscow along with other Czechoslovak politicians. He agreed to sign the Moscow protocol. On the 17th of April 1969, Gustáv Husák (1913-1991) was elected as his successor. Several months later Dubček was expelled from the party and began to work as an agricultural machinery operator. In December 1989, he was elected chairman of the Federal Assembly of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic. Pictured with Josip Broz Tito during his visit to Prague on the 9th of August 1968 (CTK / photo: Jiří Rublič)

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Meeting of representatives of the Communist Party and the future Warsaw Five in Bratislava on the 3rd of August 1968. The picture shows Alexander Dubček, Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev, Erich Honecker, Walter Ulbricht, Vasil Bilak and Josef Smrkovský (ÚSD AV ČR)

In this difficult situation we appeal to you, Soviet Communists, leaders of the CPSU and the USSR, to give us genuine help and support by all the means you have at your disposal. Only with your help is it possible to free the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic from the imminent danger of a counter revolution.

From the “invitation letter” that was probably addressed by Alois Indra, Drahomír Kolder, Oldřich Švestka, Antonín Kapek and Vasil Bil’ak to the Soviet leadership at the beginning of August 1968, with a request for intervention in Czechoslovakia. The letter was written in Russian (ÚSD AV ČR).

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Cover of the Communist Party Action Program, April 1968 (MXX)

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The telex of the first secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party Alexander Dubček warning the regional organization of the Communist Party before the K 231 congress was made less than two weeks after the return of Communist Party officials from Moscow, where Leonid Brezhnev described the K 231 as the main instrument of “counter-revolution” in Czechoslovakia, 16th of May 1968

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Cover of the magazine Reportér (Reporter) , July the 31st, 1968 (archive of Petr Blažek)