Prague - August 1968

Prague Spring - 1968. The experiment that flew too close to the sun. (Magnum Photos)

The Great Radio Documentaries – Revolution In Revolt: Prague Spring – 1968 – Past Daily Pop Chronicles.

Prague - August 1968
Prague Spring – 1968. The experiment that flew too close to the sun.(Magnum Photos)

NBC Radio: Revolution In Revolt: Prague Spring – 1968 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –

Socialism With A Human Face. That was what the experiment otherwise known as Prague Spring would be referred to in history books. This Radio Documentary, one of several produced by most American networks between August and September of 1968, was produced by NBC Radio. It registered shock felt by the Western World over this sudden turn of events in Czechoslovakia – where a Communist Satellite, liberalizing the conservative policies of Moscow, ran afoul of the Soviet hierarchy and crashed in flames over a period in August of 1968 – a year which would go down as one of the most far-reaching in social reform – one with repercussions all the way from Paris to Chicago – all met with violence.

Prague Spring was a period of political liberalization and mass protest in the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic. It began on 5 January 1968, when reformist Alexander Dubček was elected First Secretary of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (KSČ), and continued until 21 August 1968, when the Soviet Union and other Warsaw Pact members invaded the country to suppress the reforms.

The Prague Spring reforms were a strong attempt by Dubček to grant additional rights to the citizens of Czechoslovakia in an act of partial decentralization of the economy and democratization. The freedoms granted included a loosening of restrictions on the media, speech and travel. After national discussion of dividing the country into a federation of three republics, Bohemia, Moravia-Silesia and Slovakia, Dubček oversaw the decision to split into two, the Czech Socialist Republic and Slovak Socialist Republic. This dual federation was the only formal change that survived the invasion.

The reforms, especially the decentralization of administrative authority, were not received well by the Soviets, who, after failed negotiations, sent half a million Warsaw Pact troops and tanks to occupy the country. The New York Times cited reports of 650,000 men equipped with the most modern and sophisticated weapons in the Soviet military catalogue. A massive wave of emigration swept the nation. Resistance was mounted throughout the country, involving attempted fraternization, sabotage of street signs, defiance of curfews, etc. While the Soviet military had predicted that it would take four days to subdue the country, the resistance held out for eight months until diplomatic maneuvers finally circumvented it. It became a high-profile example of civilian-based defense; there were sporadic acts of violence and several protest suicides by self-immolation (the most famous being that of Jan Palach), but no military resistance.

Continuing our series on important Radio Documentaries – here is Revolution In Revolt from September 1968 as presented by NBC Radio.

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