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The 1968 Soviet Invasion of Czechoslovakia - CIA Archive

  • The Prague Spring was a period of dramatic political liberalization of the political, economic, and social orders. Czechoslovakian reforms consisted of decentralization of economy and democratization of the political system, including abolition or loosening of limitations of the free speech or travel. It began on 5 January 1968 by election of reformist Alexander Dubcek as the First Secretary of Communist Party of Czechoslovakia. These reforms were not perceived well by the Soviets. This culminated in the invasion of 21 August 1968 when the Soviet Union and other members of the Warsaw Pact, apart from Romania, invaded Czechoslovakia, without any military resistance. Occupation of the country led to a large wave of emigration and non-violent protests including self-immolation of Jan Palach, who protested demoralization of Czechoslovakian citizens caused by the occupation, Jan Zajic and Evzen Plocek. 

  • The political consequence of the invasion was a so-called normalization, which attempted to bring back political and economical system from the time before Dubcek’s election, even though it was certainly less harsh than the first 20 years of Communism in Czechoslovakia. Dubcek was replaced by Gustav Husak, who also became a president of Czechoslovakia. The occupation of Czechoslovakia lasted till 1990. This collection of documents shows selected weekly summaries of the crisis. These summaries were created by the analytical arm of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). CIA started to produce them because President Harry S. Truman struggled to understand the behavior of the Soviet Union and Joseph Stalin. Daily, weekly, and monthly summaries and interpretations of the most significant world events provided the President and the US Government with information to make their decisions and to create effective foreign policy. 

 

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