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The "Prague Spring" Comes to an End when Warsaw Pact Troops Invade the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic – Soviet Tanks in Prague (August 21, 1968)
During the night of August 20-21, 1968, Warsaw Pact troops (300,000 were sent at first; the number later increased to 500,000) occupied the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic and violently ended the reform efforts of Czechoslovak Communists that had become known as the “Prague Spring.” By the start of September 1968, bloody clashes between invading troops and the civilian population had left 72 Czechoslovaks dead, 267 with serious injuries, and 222 with lesser injuries. To justify the invasion, Soviet party leader Leonid Brezhnev announced the so-called Brezhnev Doctrine on November 12, 1968. He maintained that socialist states only had “limited sovereignty,” and therefore the Warsaw Pact had not only a right, but also an obligation, to intervene when Socialism was threatened in one of these states. This photograph shows a Soviet fighter tank on the streets of Prague on August 21, 1968. Photo by Hilmar Pabel.