CIVILIAN RESISTANCE IN CZECHOSLOVAKIA

 

PRAGUE SPRING

 
In the late 1960's Czechoslovakia was still part of the Eastern Bloc but was beginning to show a certain degree of independence.
   
   
In The beginning of 1968 Czechoslovakia experienced a blossoming of freedom and creativity known as the "Prague Spring."
 
This train of events deeply disturbed the Soviets and the other Warsaw Pact members.
 

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INVASION

 
Late at night on August 20, 1968, they struck like lightning, initiating a massive invasion of their wayward ally.
     
 
Within a week there were over a half million Warsaw Pact troops in the country. In Prague alone 500 tanks controlled strategic locations.
   
   
The invading troops were well prepared to counter any resistance the small Czechoslovakian army might offer.
 
     
But the Czechoslovakian army was surprised and completely unprepared for an invasion by allies, and was ordered not to fight.
   
At first there was some sporadic violent resistance by Czech civilians.
 
 
But radio and TV stations denounced the violence and called for "passive" resistance instead.
   
Over the next couple of weeks these clandestine broadcasters coordinated the nonviolent resistance that prevented the Soviets from taking control of the country.
     
 Soviet Tank

Soviet Tank

 Soviet Tank

THE MOSCOW AGREEMENT

In addition to civilian resistance, the Soviets also encountered resistance on the leadership level.
 
 
Top Czechoslovakian officials refused to corroborate the Soviet's story that the troops had been invited in.
No Czech politicians could be found to form a puppet government that had even a facade of legitimacy.
 
 
Finally a vague agreement was worked out between the Soviets and the Czechs which scrapped some of the reforms, but left the legitimate government leaders still in office.
Meanwhile the Czechoslovak Communist Party Congress, the National Assembly, and many of the remaining government officials all denied the legitimacy of the Soviet's actions, demanded the withdraw of troops, and encouraged nonviolent resistance by the population.
 
 
Even when the country was bristling with Warsaw Pact troops and military equipment, in no way could it be said that the Soviets were in control of Czechoslovakia.
Soviet Tank Soviet Tank Soviet Tank
 

DEFEAT

 
Their military tactics having failed, the Soviets began to use political manipulation, economic pressure and subtle threats against the Czechoslovakian leadership to chip away at the reform movement.
 
Gradually the intense resistance of the first few weeks after the invasion slowly turned into a disgruntled complacency.
 
Eventually the Soviets got the conservative government they wanted in Czechoslovakia.
 

An improvised campaign of noncooperation had kept the Soviets from installing their puppet government for eight months!