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The "Prague Spring" Comes to an End when Warsaw Pact Troops Invade the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic – Woman with a Photograph of Alexander Dubcek und Ludvík Svoboda (August 21, 1968)
After the Slovak Alexander Dubcek was elected First Secretary of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia on January 5, 1968, a series of economic, social, and political reforms were set in motion. The reforms aimed at democratizing Socialism and giving it a “human face.” Through the reform process, Dubcek came to symbolize the hope for a democratic Socialism. The Czechoslovak population was thus all the more distraught when Warsaw Pact troops invaded their country on August 21-22, 1968, and carted Dubcek and his circle off to Moscow. State President Ludvík Svoboda, a former general, negotiated with the Soviet government in Moscow and managed at least to secure the release of his country’s party leadership, which was being held in custody there. In the Moscow Protocol of August 26, 1968, the Czechoslovak leadership, under Soviet pressure, made a binding promise to reverse all steps toward reform. Dubcek remained in office until April 1969, but a process of “normalization” was initiated – in other words, the Soviet-style system of state Socialism was restored. The way in which the woman shown below holds up a picture of Dubcek and Svoboda conveys the force of accusation and expresses the hopes that the Czechoslovak population had invested in these two statesmen. Photo by Hilmar Pabel.