Radio with a human Face (1968)

1. leden 2016

After the victory of the Communist party in the parliamentary elections of 1946, Czechoslovakia quickly became a mere satellite of the Soviet Union.

A stern dictatorship of the working class was installed. Thousands of people ended up in labor camps, prison, or even a scaffold. The state seized ownership of large factories, mines and small businesses. The situation improved at the beginning of 1968. The parliament dissolved the strict censorship. People were suddenly allowed to speak about the politically motivated trials of the 1950s, as well as current issues. The new “socialism with a human face” was a huge hit.

But not with everyone. The Soviet Army returned to Prague during the night between August 20 and 21. This time around, they entered as invaders acting upon the invitation of five Czechoslovakian traitors. When faced with political pressure Czechoslovak Radio did not buckle. A steady stream of uncensored information about the invasion of the armies of the Warsaw pact was being broadcast. The newscasters urged the public to stay safe and engage in forms of nonviolent protest against the invaders. And so, once again, Prague bore witness to another battle for Radio.

The Soviets sent a total of six tanks to destroy the free radio they feared so much. The building was however guarded by hundreds of Prague citizens, who cleverly managed to destroy three of them, despite being almost unarmed. Driving a pickaxe into the oil tank set the juggernaut ablaze. Although the invaders managed to seize control of the building of Czechoslovak Radio in during the morning hours of August 22, the free broadcast was still airing from hidden locations. Within the first three days, the Soviets took control of the Communist party, the government, newspapers and television. The Radio thus remained the nation’s only source of unbiased information, and remained so until September 13, 1968. On that day, full censorship was reinstated.

Národní muzeum v době okupace v roce 1968
Fasáda Národního muzea poškozená střelami 22. srpna 1968

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