Prague, August 21, 1968
In 1964-through-1968 the Prague Spring took place when democracy started to bloom in the country under imposed Communism. It was a period of political liberalization, in then Czechoslovakia, from the Soviet Union domination. On January 5, 1968, the reformist Alexander Dubček was elected First Secretary of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (KSČ), and he continued in that post until August 21, 1968 when the Soviet Union and other members of the Warsaw Pact invaded the country to halt the reforms.
During my visit to Prague
I happened to be in Prague on August 21, 2017. My hotel location was not too far from the Wenceslas Square-in Czech Václavské náměstí, where Václav Havel, the 1st President of the Czech Republic, called for the Prague Spring. That morning I took a long walk and when I arrived at the Václavské náměstí square I saw media commotion that arose my curiosity and here is the result of that curiosity.
The former Member of Parliament, Michael Kocáb
At the square I was introduced to Michael Kocáb, a Czech composer, singer and political activist and a friend of world renowned musician, Frank Zappa.
According to Mr. Kocáb, the freedom of the Czech Republic is in a limbo; it is by far not the democracy the people deserve.
Mr. Kocáb repeats the much known to Czechs history. On August 21st, 1968, 500,000 Soviet and Polish soldiers, accompanied by 6,300 tanks and 830 military planes, a military force three times the size of then the Czechoslovakian army, invaded the country to suppress the Czech Spring. The result, 137 Czechs and Slovaks lost their life and 500,000 Czechs became refugees. Bitterly he tells me that only, then Yugoslavia, now Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Herzegovina, Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia, supported the Czechs’ dissention, which the Soviet Union opposed, and thus the invasion.
As expected from its deplorable inactions or actions, with the Veto allowance to Russia, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) did not help the freedom fighters and in this case the United States’ support was missing but joined in support of free Czechs later on.
On October 26th, 1968, the Czech Parliament signed an agreement with the Soviets in which 75,000 Soviet soldiers and their families will be stationed in Czechoslovakia. This contract ceased to exist on March 26th, 1990.
In the early 1990s, Mr. Kocáb, then a Member of Parliament and acting Deputy Chair of the Freedom Committee, led a parliament commission which negotiated the repatriation of Soviet soldiers from Czechoslovakia and breaking the contract with the Soviets. Mr. Kocáb claims that he also found a Soviet nuclear facility on Czech land, which the Soviets denied existed. On June 30th, 1991, the Czechs kicked the Russians out of their land and though was negotiated and agreed, Russia never compensated the Czechs for its oppression and atrocities but the Czech nation comforts itself with being a free nation.
Mr. Kocáb was a friend of late Václav Havel, the legendary symbol of the Czech Republic’s liberty. Mr. Havel was the new republic president and Mr. Kocáb was his personal advisor for over a decade. Mr. Kocáb is also a friend of current president Mr. Miloš Zeman and supported him. “He seemed to be one of us but he has changed,” Mr. Kocáb expressed his disappointment in his friend and the reason for the movement to keep the Czech Republic clean of communism.
The Democracy is in question
The current Czech Republic president is Miloš Zeman and his proclivity to China and Mr. Putin of Russia is a worrisome to every freedom loving Czech.
One who worries a great deal about the encroaching communism in the Czech Republic is Mr. Peter Marek, the head of a growing civil movement to find justice for those who communism hurt. Mr. Marek is dissatisfied of the current winds blowing from the current president’s palace. “After Communism collapsed and we became a democracy so little was done, if at all, to punish the communists and their communism system, which hurt so many,” Mr. Marek claims. He wants to find justice for those who were persecuted and murdered during the Communist era. “Society is developing with a broken spine,” Mr. Marek shared his worrisome. In his opinion, tolerance to Communism and its philosophy is deeply imbedded in the Czech Republic education system and that has to change, must come to an end.
The movement Mr. Marek heads goal is to change the public view through education. First the Czech public and then expand its actions beyond the Czech Republic borders.
“In the West Communism is not detested as much as Nazism and it is very well alive,” Mr. Marek points to a view that should worry every freedom-loving individual in the Czech Republic liberated from the Communism yoke.
Knowing what is taking place in so many USA universities, I left Prague’s new town Václavské-Wenceslas Square ready to join this initiative. I hope this article will light some fire under people who seek real freedom.