1968 Web Site Launch

Prague, June 20, 2008

– On the late afternoon and over the course of the evening of Tuesday, August 20, 1968, hundreds of thousands of soldiers of the five states of the Warsaw Pact were ushered into a state of military readiness. Along the length of Czechoslovakia’s borders, thousands of military automobiles, armored vehicles and tanks assembled. At the airports of these states, airplanes stood prepared for take-off in the direction of Czechoslovakia. At around 11:00 pm, paratroopers and scout groups, followed by a mass of troops and technology, crossed the border. Operation Danube, the biggest military action in Europe since the Second World War, had begun. Today, two months shy of forty years since that Tuesday, the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes launches the special web site https://www.ustrcr.cz/cs/srpen-1968, dedicated to the events of the revolutionary year 1968. The project, which the Institute is putting together in cooperation with the Archive of Security Forces, Czech Radio, Czech Television and the Military History Institute, proposes to summarize and make accessible to the public, without distortion, documents from various institutions as well as testimony from the period. The aim is for the site to become a place to which both journalists and the public will turn to find information about the events of the year 1968. The current version of the site is not final; information will be continuously added. With respect to the contents of the site, of particular interest is the section on Victims of the Occupation, in which there is a list of 108 victims who perished by the end of 1968 in direct connection with the Warsaw Pact military operation on the territory of Czechoslovakia. The number 108 is fourteen persons more then historic sources had hitherto indicated. The previous, lower number came from collective reports submitted in December 1968 by the leadership of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, which covered only the period through December 17. “Further dead come from the days after this date and from incidents when some Czech citizens registered ‘only’ as critically injured later died as a result of their wounds,” say researchers Milan Barta and Lukas Cvrcek of the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes. Both worked for a number of months on a book on victims of the occupation, which will be released on the occupation’s 40th anniversary. In the audio section, we call your attention to as yet unreleased recordings discovered several days ago. Interested parties will further find in the photo gallery a succession of unique photographs from various authors. The Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes appeals to witnesses or survivors who have archival materials on the theme of the year 1968 to contact the e-mail address 1968@ustrcr.cz or the telephone number 221 008 111 and lend researchers materials for copying. The Institute also offers, along with its partners, to help with the restoration of archival materials. Jiri Reichl Press Spokesman, Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes press@ustrcr.cz, jiri.reichl@ustrcr.cz