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Czech Photographer’s Exhibition in Washington DC

Prague Spring
Prague Spring

At the moment at The Katzen Arts Center located in Washington DC an exhibition of well-known Czech photographer Josef Koudelka is open. The display is named “Invasion 68: Prague” and quite naturally it shows the pictures of the 1968 Soviet invasion to Czechoslovakia. The exhibition will last until December 21.

As you know, in 1968 recently elected Alexander Dubček who has quite liberal views for those times launched some reforms intended to provide Czechs and Slovaks with freedom of speech and travel. Soviet Union communist authorities took these reforms as an offence and threat to Warsaw Pact existence.

Soviet Union brought about 500 tanks into the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic to intimidate its people and dismiss its progressive leader from power. Czechoslovak troops made no resistance, so much such a resistance would be senseless and would only caused more blood. As a result of this intervention some civilian people were shot dead, there were damages done to buildings and streets. Soviet Union controlled censorship was introduced to all the Czech media.

Josef Koudelka made a lot of impressive documentary snapshots of those grim events – Chezh civilians protesting against intervention, Soviet soldiers and tanks, burning buildings and streets of Prague. All those pictures contradicted official Soviet propaganda that reported about Soviet troops liberating Czech people. The author had to leave the country and the negatives were smuggled abroad and then published by Magnum Photos. Now these photos are displayed at The Katzen Arts Center so everybody can see testimony of those events.

Photo: by Josef Koudelka

Date: 19/12/2008

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