Invasion!  21 August 1968

Just before midnight on 20-21 August 1968, the Warsaw Pact countries of the Soviet Union, Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, and the German Democratic Republic (only special forces from the GDR),  invaded Czechoslovakia to end the liberalization of the communist regime, under the leadership of Alexander Dubček (1921-1992).  Blahoslav Auředník (1937-2017), a mechanical engineer, took several photographs of Václavské náměstí (Wenceslas Square) and other nearby locations in Prague.  He took most of the photographs very early on the morning of 21 August while on his way to his place of employment, SVÚM, a metal, plastics, and composites testing firm on Opletalova ulice (now located in the city of Čelákovice, just north of Prague).  Some he took later in the day.  He once told me that he was able to see some of the protests from his office window, and the street scene with smoke rising from behind a row of buildings is on Opeletalova ulice.

A focal point of the protests was the statue of Saint Václav, the patron saint of Bohemia, on which protestors posted, with white tape, “Dubček horray" and "The USSR calls you home.”  Auředník also captured another individual photographing a tank, with smoke from a fire behind it.  Other images show protesters on Václavské náměstí and elsewhere in Prague.

About 60 people died during the invasion, despite the fact that Czechoslovakia officially did not resist the Warsaw Pact forces.  The new regime, with the backing of the Soviets, instituted a process of “normalization” that gave Czechoslovakia one of the most rigid communist regimes throughout the 1970s and 1980s.  Gustáv Husák (1913-1991), who came to power as a result of the invasion, led the country until the collapse of communism in Czechoslovakia in December 1989.

An article that includes four of Auředník’s photographs appears at  Another, with one of the photos, is at  The texts for both articles, which provide basic details about the invasion, are in Czech.  The photographs here appear through the courtesy of Lenka Kocková, the daughter of Blahoslav Auředník.

Below are images of Blahoslav Auředník and his family, including his wedding photo with his wife, Ivanka Auřeníková (née Libalová, 1942-1992), taken in 1962, and with their oldest child, Lenka Kocková (née Auředníková), taken in 1964.