It’s forty years today since the Soviet tanks arrived in Prague to “take control”, amidst student unrest. The uprising was supressed, many people were killed, and the Russian troops shot at the National Museum, believing it was the home to the Czech radio station which had been broadcasting anti-Russian programming.
Forty years later, there was a tank outside the National Museum again today, except this time the there were flowers, not bullets, coming out of the end of the cannon. On top of the thank there were a number of men dressed as Russian soldiers, except this time, they were having their photographs taken with babies.
I can’t begin to imagine what the people of Prague went through. Even with a commemorative photographic exhibition, it’s still hard to comprehend what it must have been like in 1968.
I was only three years old at the time. And although I remember we had a young guy from Czechoslovakia (as it was then) in my kindergarten class, I had no real awareness of this kind of stuff until I was maybe 9 or 10 years old.
Even now, I’ve had to go online to read something of the history for an understanding of what occured.
The whole experience today has been re-enacted solely for the media and for tourists, I suspect.
And for a Western tourist, such as myself, who has worked as a journalist for most of his life in a country where there has been virtually no political strife, it’s a way of vicariously relating to something quite exciting. Bit obscene really, isn’t it?
It makes no sense. I’ll let the photographs tell the story…