August 21, 1968

[ client: Czech Center New York︎ ]

[ type: Environmental Graphics ︎ Infographics ︎  Promotional Material ]

[ curator: Marie Dvorakova︎ ]

[ images: from the collection of Dana Kyndrova︎ ]

[ video: Czech Center New York︎ ]

[ selected press: New Yorker Magazine︎ ︎ Czech Television︎ ]

[ year: 2018 ]

On August 21, 1968, five countries of the Warsaw Pact invaded and occupied Czechoslovakia to keep the country communist.

The exhibit is based on 20 small historic photos and a heavy amount of text and information. The text was translated into large scale infographics, maps, and a timeline that implemented the photos within.


At the beginning of 1968, the so-called rebuilding process began in Czechoslovakia. It was based on the utterly misconceived idea that the regime established and maintained by brutal methods can be democratized and humanized by moderate reforms. If successful, it would probably lead to the loss of the power monopoly of the Communist Party, the re-acquisition of full political sovereignty of Czechoslovakia, and, in its consequence, to the collapse of the Soviet bloc.

However, Moscow has interrupted all hopefully started processes in a harsh and ruthless manner. At the night of August 20, 1968, an army of half-a-million soldiers of five Soviet bloc states - the Soviet Union, Bulgaria, Poland, Hungary and the German Democratic Republic - invaded Czechoslovakia with heavy military equipment including tanks. People were horrified and strolled into the streets to protest the occupants. Against the well-armed military, they did not have chance at success by merely protesting with their bare hands. The strongest protests took place in front of the building of the Czechoslovak Radio in Prague. The unarmed citizens prevented free broadcasting literally by their own bodies. The clashes with the occupiers also occurred in many other places throughout the country. The aggressive and ruthless behavior of the invaders resulted in the death of one hundred and thirty-five Czechoslovak citizens. Another five hundred of them were seriously injured in 1968.

The military occupation of Czechoslovakia enabled conservative forces in the Communist Party to stop the democratization of the society, place the situation under their control, and conclude a contract which allowed Soviet troops to have temporary stay in the country. This temporary period lasted another two decades. On the basis of a forced agreement, a so-called Central Group of Soviet troops settled in the territory of Czechoslovakia. It consisted of about seventy-five thousand soldiers disposing heavy machinery and aircraft.

[ Text by: CCNY ]

Mira Pipova
New York / Prague

All works © Pipova / 2020  

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