Posted on August 21, 2018
Historians say 108 Czech and Slovak civilians were killed during the first four months of the invasion, many run over by Russian tanks and lorries. By 1969, when the borders were closed, some 100,000 had fled the country, with many more emigrating until the fall of communism in 1989. Those who stayed were given a stark choice: abandon opposition to the Soviet occupation and accept the “normalisation” of society, or lose jobs, careers, the chance to send your children to university. Thousands of lives were ruined as people made difficult moral decisions. Many chose a sort of internal exile, turning to innocuous pursuits like sports or hiking or fleeing to the country cottage for the weekend, where they could escape the oppressive conformity of 1970s socialist society. Dubcek – who had been flown to Moscow in handcuffs – returned a broken man. He briefly served as ambassador to Turkey, before being made a minor forestry official in Slovakia.