A report on Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia

Photograph of a Soviet T-54 in Prague during the Warsaw Pact's occupation of Czechoslovakia.
Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev and Polish leader Władysław Gomułka in East Berlin, 1967
Brezhnev, Nikolai Podgorny, and East German leader Walter Ulbricht in Moscow
Nicolae Ceauşescu (right) visiting Czechoslovakia in 1968; here, with Alexander Dubček and Ludvik Svoboda
Barricades and Soviet tanks on fire
Prague resident attempting conversation with a Soviet soldier.
Soviet soldier with a tank shell – potentially having retrieved it from a burning tank.
Soviet tanks marked with invasion stripes during the invasion
Population securing food supplies
National flag of Czechoslovakia covered in blood
One of the protesters' banners "For your freedom and ours"
Bucharest, August 1968: Ceauşescu criticizing the Soviet invasion
Demonstration in Helsinki against the invasion
Demonstration in Kiel, West Germany against the invasion of Czechoslovakia and Vietnam War, 23 August 1968
Commander-in-chief of the Warsaw Pact Ivan Yakubovsky with Walter Ulbricht in 1970
Erich Honecker, Gustáv Husák, and Walter Ulbricht in Berlin, East Germany, 1971
Memorial plate in Košice, Slovakia

Jointly invaded by four Warsaw Pact countries: the Soviet Union, the Polish People's Republic, the People's Republic of Bulgaria and the Hungarian People's Republic.

- Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia
Photograph of a Soviet T-54 in Prague during the Warsaw Pact's occupation of Czechoslovakia.

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Alexander Dubček

Prague Spring

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Period of political liberalization and mass protest in the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic.

Period of political liberalization and mass protest in the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic.

Alexander Dubček
Main instigators of Prague Spring in 1968 (L–R) Oldřich Černík, Alexander Dubček, Ludvík Svoboda and Josef Smrkovský
Leonid Brezhnev
Romanian Prime Secretary Nicolae Ceauşescu gives a speech critical of the invasion, in front of a crowd in Bucharest, 21 August 1968
Protest banner in Russian reading "For your freedom and ours"
Helsinki demonstration against the invasion of Czechoslovakia
Memorial to the victims of the invasion, located in Liberec

It began on 5 January 1968, when reformist Alexander Dubček was elected First Secretary of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (KSČ), and continued until 21 August 1968, when the Soviet Union and other Warsaw Pact members invaded the country to suppress the reforms.

Warsaw Pact

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Collective defense treaty signed in Warsaw, Poland, between the Soviet Union and seven other Eastern Bloc socialist republics of Central and Eastern Europe in May 1955, during the Cold War.

Collective defense treaty signed in Warsaw, Poland, between the Soviet Union and seven other Eastern Bloc socialist republics of Central and Eastern Europe in May 1955, during the Cold War.

The Presidential Palace in Warsaw, Poland, where the Warsaw Pact was established and signed on 14 May 1955
The Iron Curtain (black line)
A "Soviet Big Seven" threats poster, displaying the equipment of the militaries of the Warsaw Pact
A typical Soviet military jeep UAZ-469, used by most countries of the Warsaw Pact
Meeting of the seven representatives of the Warsaw Pact countries in East Berlin in May 1987. From left to right: Gustáv Husák, Todor Zhivkov, Erich Honecker, Mikhail Gorbachev, Nicolae Ceaușescu, Wojciech Jaruzelski, and János Kádár
Soviet tanks, marked with white crosses to distinguish them from Czechoslovak tanks, on the streets of Prague during the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia, 1968
Protest in Amsterdam against the nuclear arms race between NATO and the Warsaw Pact, 1981
The Pan-European Picnic took place on the Hungarian-Austrian border in 1989.
The Warsaw Pact before its 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia, showing the Soviet Union and its satellites (red) and the two independent non-Soviet members: Romania and Albania (pink)
A Romanian TR-85 tank in December 1989 (Romania's TR-85 and TR-580 tanks were the only non-Soviet tanks in the Warsaw Pact on which restrictions were placed under the 1990 CFE Treaty )
The Romanian IAR-93 Vultur was the only combat jet designed and built by a non-Soviet member of the Warsaw Pact.
Expansion of NATO before and after the collapse of communism throughout Central and Eastern Europe

Its largest military engagement was the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia in August 1968 (with the participation of all Pact nations except Albania and Romania), which, in part, resulted in Albania withdrawing from the Pact less than a month later.

Allied troops in Vladivostok, August 1918, during the Allied intervention in the Russian Civil War

Cold War

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Period of geopolitical tension between the United States and the Soviet Union and their respective allies, the Western Bloc and the Eastern Bloc, which began following World War II.

Period of geopolitical tension between the United States and the Soviet Union and their respective allies, the Western Bloc and the Eastern Bloc, which began following World War II.

Allied troops in Vladivostok, August 1918, during the Allied intervention in the Russian Civil War
The "Big Three" at the Yalta Conference: Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin, 1945
Post-war Allied occupation zones in Germany
Clement Attlee, Harry S. Truman and Joseph Stalin at the Potsdam Conference, 1945
Post-war territorial changes in Europe and the formation of the Eastern Bloc, the so-called "Iron Curtain"
Remains of the "Iron Curtain" in the Czech Republic
C-47s unloading at Tempelhof Airport in Berlin during the Berlin Blockade
President Truman signs the North Atlantic Treaty with guests in the Oval Office.
Mao Zedong and Joseph Stalin in Moscow, December 1949
General Douglas MacArthur, UN Command CiC (seated), observes the naval shelling of Incheon, Korea from USS Mt. McKinley, 15 September 1950
US Marines engaged in street fighting during the liberation of Seoul, September 1950
NATO and Warsaw Pact troop strengths in Europe in 1959
From left to right: Soviet head of state Kliment Voroshilov, Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev and Finnish president Urho Kekkonen at Moscow in 1960.
The maximum territorial extent of Soviet influence, after the Cuban Revolution of 1959 and before the official Sino-Soviet split of 1961
Western colonial empires in Asia and Africa all collapsed in the years after 1945.
1961 Soviet stamp commemorating Patrice Lumumba, assassinated prime minister of the Republic of the Congo
The United States reached the Moon in 1969.
Che Guevara (left) and Fidel Castro (right) in 1961
Soviet and American tanks face each other at Checkpoint Charlie during the Berlin Crisis of 1961.
Aerial photograph of a Soviet missile site in Cuba, taken by a US spy aircraft, 1 November 1962
NATO and Warsaw Pact troop strengths in Europe in 1973
US combat operations during the Battle of Ia Drang, South Vietnam, November 1965
A manifestation of the Finlandization period: in April 1970, a Finnish stamp was issued in honor of the 100th anniversary of Vladimir Lenin's birth and the Lenin Symposium held in Tampere. The stamp was the first Finnish stamp issued about a foreign person.
The invasion of Czechoslovakia by the Soviet Union in 1968 was one of the biggest military operations on European soil since World War II.
Suharto of Indonesia attending funeral of five generals slain in 30 September Movement, 2 October 1965
Egyptian leader Anwar Sadat with Henry Kissinger in 1975
Chilean leader Augusto Pinochet shaking hands with Henry Kissinger in 1976
Cuban tank in the streets of Luanda, Angola, 1976
During the Khmer Rouge regime led by Pol Pot, 1.5 to 2 million people died due to the policies of his four-year premiership.
Mao Zedong and US President Richard Nixon, during his visit in China
Leonid Brezhnev and Jimmy Carter sign the SALT II treaty, 18 June 1979, in Vienna
Iranian people protesting against the Pahlavi dynasty, during the Iranian Revolution
Protest in Amsterdam against the deployment of Pershing II missiles in Europe, 1981
The Soviet invasion during Operation Storm-333 on 26 December 1979
President Reagan publicizes his support by meeting with Afghan mujahideen leaders in the White House, 1983.
President Reagan with Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher during a working luncheon at Camp David, December 1984
The world map of military alliances in 1980
US and USSR/Russian nuclear weapons stockpiles, 1945–2006
Delta 183 launch vehicle lifts off, carrying the Strategic Defense Initiative sensor experiment "Delta Star".
After ten-year-old American Samantha Smith wrote a letter to Yuri Andropov expressing her fear of nuclear war, Andropov invited Smith to the Soviet Union.
Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan sign the INF Treaty at the White House, 1987.
The beginning of the 1990s brought a thaw in relations between the superpowers.
"Tear down this wall!" speech: Reagan speaking in front of the Brandenburg Gate, 12 June 1987
Otto von Habsburg, who played a leading role in opening the Iron Curtain.
Erich Honecker lost control in August 1989.
August Coup in Moscow, 1991
The human chain in Lithuania during the Baltic Way, 23 August 1989
Changes in national boundaries after the end of the Cold War
Since the end of the Cold War, the EU has expanded eastwards into the former Warsaw Pact and parts of the former Soviet Union.
A map showing the relations of Marxist–Leninist states after the Sino-Soviet split as of 1980:
The USSR and pro-Soviet socialist states
China and pro-Chinese socialist states
Neutral Socialist nations (North Korea and Yugoslavia)
Non-socialist states

The USSR invaded Czechoslovakia to suppress the 1968 Prague Spring, while the US experienced internal turmoil from the civil rights movement and opposition to the Vietnam War.

Communist states in Europe before the Tito–Stalin split of 1948

Eastern Bloc

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The group of socialist states of Central and Eastern Europe, East Asia, Southeast Asia, Africa and Latin America under the influence of the Soviet Union that existed during the Cold War .

The group of socialist states of Central and Eastern Europe, East Asia, Southeast Asia, Africa and Latin America under the influence of the Soviet Union that existed during the Cold War .

Communist states in Europe before the Tito–Stalin split of 1948
Soviet Union stamp of 1950, depicting the flags and peoples of the Eastern Bloc.
The Big Three (British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Premier of the Soviet Union Joseph Stalin) at the Yalta Conference, February 1945
World War II Polish Prime Minister Stanisław Mikołajczyk fled Poland in 1947 after facing arrest and persecution
Political situation in Europe during the Cold War
Germans watching Western supply planes at Berlin Tempelhof Airport during the Berlin Airlift
Countries which once had overtly Marxist–Leninist governments in bright red and countries the USSR considered at one point to be "moving toward socialism" in dark red
Communist countries and Soviet republics in Europe with their representative flags (1950s)
Trybuna Ludu 14 December 1981 reports martial law in Poland
Russian Orthodox Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, once the most dominant landmark in Baku, was demolished in the 1930s under Stalin
Berlin Wall in 1975
Prominent examples of urban design included Marszałkowska Housing Estate (MDM) in Warsaw
During World War II, 85% of buildings in Warsaw were destroyed by German troops
A line for the distribution of cooking oil in Bucharest, Romania in May 1986
Reconstruction of a typical working class flat interior of the khrushchyovka
Propaganda poster showing increased agricultural production from 1981 to 1983 and 1986 in East Germany
A Robotron KC 87 home computer made in East Germany between 1987 and 1989
Per capita GDP in the Eastern Bloc from 1950 to 2003 (1990 base Geary-Khamis dollars) according to Angus Maddison
GDP per capita of the Eastern Bloc in relations with GDPpc of United States during 1900–2010
East German Plattenbau apartment blocks
Czechoslovaks carry their national flag past a burning Soviet tank in Prague
The Cold War in 1980 before the Iran–Iraq War
Otto von Habsburg, who played a leading role in opening the Iron Curtain
Erich Honecker
Changes in national boundaries after the collapse of the Eastern Bloc
European countries by total wealth (billions USD), Credit Suisse, 2018
A map of communist states (1993–present)
The "three worlds" of the Cold War era between April–August 1975:
1st World: Western Bloc led by the United States and its allies
2nd World: Eastern Bloc led by the Soviet Union, China and their allies
3rd World: Non-Aligned and neutral countries

Albania, which had become increasingly isolated under Stalinist leader Enver Hoxha following de-Stalinization, undergoing a Soviet–Albanian split in 1961, withdrew from the Warsaw Pact in 1968 following the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia.

Alexander Dubček

Alexander Dubček

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Slovak politician who served as the First Secretary of the Presidium of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (KSČ) (de facto leader of Czechoslovakia) from January 1968 to April 1969.

Slovak politician who served as the First Secretary of the Presidium of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (KSČ) (de facto leader of Czechoslovakia) from January 1968 to April 1969.

Alexander Dubček
Plaque commemorating Dubček's service as chairman of the Czechoslovak Parliament 1989–1992, on the wall of the National Museum in Prague
Dubček's grave
Monument to Dubček near the site of his fatal accident

He attempted to reform the communist government during the Prague Spring but was forced to resign following the Warsaw Pact invasion in August 1968.

Czechoslovakia

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Sovereign state in Central Europe, created in October 1918, when it declared its independence from Austria-Hungary.

Sovereign state in Central Europe, created in October 1918, when it declared its independence from Austria-Hungary.

Czechoslovakia during the interwar period and the Cold War
Czechoslovakia during the interwar period and the Cold War
Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, founder and first president
Czechoslovak troops in Vladivostok (1918)
Czechoslovak declaration of independence rally in Prague on Wenceslas Square, 28 October 1918
A monument to Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk and Milan Štefánik—both key figures in early Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia in 1928
Linguistic map of Czechoslovakia in 1930
The partition of Czechoslovakia after Munich Agreement
The car in which Reinhard Heydrich was killed in 1942
Territory of the Second Czechoslovak Republic (1938–1939)
Socialist coat of arms in 1960–1989
Spartakiad in 1960
Czechoslovakia after 1969
The Visegrád Group signing ceremony in February 1991
Federal Assembly in Prague
Federative coat of arms in 1990–1992

A period of political liberalization in 1968, known as the Prague Spring, was violently ended when the Soviet Union, assisted by some other Warsaw Pact countries, invaded Czechoslovakia.

Soviet Union

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Transcontinental country that spanned much of Eurasia from 1922 to 1991.

Transcontinental country that spanned much of Eurasia from 1922 to 1991.

The Soviet Union after World War II
Lenin, Trotsky and Kamenev celebrating the second anniversary of the October Revolution
The Soviet Union after World War II
The Russian famine of 1921–22 killed an estimated 5 million people.
Construction of the bridge through the Kolyma (part of the Road of Bones from Magadan to Jakutsk) by the workers of Dalstroy.
Five Marshals of the Soviet Union in 1935. Only two of them – Budyonny and Voroshilov – survived Great Purge. Blyukher, Yegorov and Tukhachevsky were executed.
The Battle of Stalingrad, considered by many historians as a decisive turning point of World War II.
From left to right, the Soviet General Secretary Joseph Stalin, US President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill confer in Tehran, 1943.
Map showing greatest territorial extent of the Soviet Union and the states that it dominated politically, economically and militarily in 1960, after the Cuban Revolution of 1959 but before the official Sino-Soviet split of 1961 (total area: c. 35,000,000 km2)
Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev (left) with US President John F. Kennedy in Vienna, 3 June 1961.
Nikolai Podgorny visiting Tampere, Finland on 16 October 1969
Soviet general secretary Leonid Brezhnev and US President Jimmy Carter sign the SALT II arms limitation treaty in Vienna on 18 June 1979
Mikhail Gorbachev in one-to-one discussions with US President Ronald Reagan
The Pan-European Picnic took place in August 1989 on the Hungarian-Austrian border.
T-80 tank on Red Square during the August Coup
Changes in national boundaries after the end of the Cold War
Internally displaced Azerbaijanis from Nagorno-Karabakh, 1993
Country emblems of the Soviet Republics before and after the dissolution of the Soviet Union (note that the Transcaucasian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (fifth in the second row) no longer exists as a political entity of any kind and the emblem is unofficial)
Sukarno and Voroshilov in a state meeting on 1958.
1960s Cuba-Soviet friendship poster with Fidel Castro and Nikita Khrushchev
Soviet stamp 1974 for friendship between USSR and India as both nations shared strong ties, although India was a prominent member of Non-Aligned Movement
Gerald Ford, Andrei Gromyko, Leonid Brezhnev and Henry Kissinger speaking informally at the Vladivostok Summit in 1974
Mikhail Gorbachev and George H. W. Bush signing bilateral documents during Gorbachev's official visit to the United States in 1990
1987 Soviet stamp
Military parade on the Red Square in Moscow, 7 November 1964
The Grand Kremlin Palace, the seat of the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union, 1982
Nationalist anti-government riots in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, 1990
A medium-range SS-20 non-ICBM ballistic missile, the deployment of which in the late 1970s launched a new arms race in Europe in which NATO deployed Pershing II missiles in West Germany, among other things
From left to right: Yuri Gagarin, Pavel Popovich, Valentina Tereshkova and Nikita Khrushchev at the Lenin's Mausoleum in 1963
Soyuz rocket at the Baikonur Cosmodrome
The DneproGES, one of many hydroelectric power stations in the Soviet Union
Picking cotton in Armenia in the 1930s
Workers of the Salihorsk potash plant, Belarus, 1968
Volzhsky Avtomobilny Zavod (VAZ) in 1969
Soviet stamp depicting the 30th anniversary of the International Atomic Energy Agency, published in 1987, a year following the Chernobyl nuclear disaster
Soviet stamp showing the orbit of Sputnik 1
Aeroflot's flag during the Soviet era
Population of the Soviet Union (red) and the post-Soviet states (blue) from 1961 to 2009 as well as projection (dotted blue) from 2010 to 2100
Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space, visiting the Lviv confectionery, Ukrainian SSR, 1967
Young Pioneers at a Young Pioneer camp in Kazakh SSR
People in Samarkand, Uzbek SSR, 1981
Svaneti man in Mestia, Georgian SSR, 1929
An early Soviet-era poster discouraging unsafe abortion practices
Cover of Bezbozhnik in 1929, magazine of the Society of the Godless. The first five-year plan of the Soviet Union is shown crushing the gods of the Abrahamic religions.
The Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow during its demolition in 1931
A paranja burning ceremony in the Uzbek SSR as part of Soviet Hujum policies
World War II military deaths in Europe by theater and by year. Nazi Germany suffered 80% of its military deaths in the Eastern Front.
2001 stamp of Moldova shows Yuri Gagarin, the first human in space
People in Donetsk celebrate the Soviet victory over Nazi Germany, 9 May 2018
Soviet singer-songwriter, poet and actor Vladimir Vysotsky in 1979
Valeri Kharlamov represented the Soviet Union at 11 Ice Hockey World Championships, winning eight gold medals, two silvers and one bronze
One of the many impacts of the approach to the environment in the USSR is the Aral Sea (see status in 1989 and 2014)
Landscape near Karabash, Chelyabinsk Oblast, an area that was previously covered with forests until acid rainfall from a nearby copper smelter killed all vegetation
Ethnographic map of the Soviet Union, 1941
Ethnographic map of the Soviet Union, 1970

In 1968, the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact allies invaded Czechoslovakia to halt the Prague Spring reforms.

Communist Party of Czechoslovakia

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Communist and Marxist–Leninist political party in Czechoslovakia that existed between 1921 and 1992.

Communist and Marxist–Leninist political party in Czechoslovakia that existed between 1921 and 1992.

Klement Gottwald, leader of the party from 1929 until his death in 1953
Gustáv Husák, leader of the party between 1969–87 and president of Czechoslovakia in 1975–89
Milos Jakeš, the last communist leader (1987–89), a target of folk humor

In 1968, party leader Alexander Dubček proposed reforms that included a democratic process and initiated the Prague Spring; this led to the invasion of Czechoslovakia by the Soviet Union.

People's Socialist Republic of Albania

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The Marxist-Leninist one party state that existed in Albania from 1976 to 1992.

The Marxist-Leninist one party state that existed in Albania from 1976 to 1992.

The People's Socialist Republic of Albania in 1989
Partisans entering Tirana on 29 November 1944
The People's Socialist Republic of Albania in 1989
Enver Hoxha in 1971
Bunkers in Albania built during Hoxha's rule to avert the possibility of external invasions. By 1983 approximately 173,371 concrete bunkers were scattered throughout the country.
Mao Zedong and Hoxha in 1956
Albanian poster in 1978: Marxism-Leninism: Victorious flag
Mount Shpiragu as seen from Berat showing the name of Enver written on its side
Durrës in 1978
Center of Tirana in 1978, with slogans and propaganda on all of the main buildings

It was the only Warsaw Pact member to formally withdraw from the alliance before 1990, an action which was occasioned by the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia in August 1968.

Socialist Republic of Romania

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Marxist–Leninist one-party socialist state that existed officially in Romania from 1947 to 1989.

Marxist–Leninist one-party socialist state that existed officially in Romania from 1947 to 1989.

The Socialist Republic of Romania in 1989
The Socialist Republic of Romania in 1966
1949 stamp celebrating Romanian-Soviet friendship.
Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej speaking at a workers' rally in Nation Square, Bucharest after the 1946 general election
Armed resistance against the government
Nicolae Ceaușescu
Demographics graphs. A huge surge of the birth rate in 1967, as a result of Decree 770, is the most prominent feature of these graphs.
23 August demonstration
1979 postage stamp
A queue for cooking oil in Bucharest, 1986
Romanian ration card, 1989
A propaganda poster on the streets of Bucharest, 1986. The caption reads "65 years since the creation of the Romanian Communist Party", while the background states "Ceaușescu Era" and "The Party. Ceaușescu. Romania."
Civic Center, Bucharest
The Communist government fostered the personality cult of Nicolae Ceaușescu and his wife Elena.
Members of Șoimii Patriei, a communist youth organization created in 1976 for children aged 4–7
Flag (1947–1948)
Flag (1948)
Flag (1948–1952)
Flag (1952–1965)
Emblem (1948)
Emblem (1948–1952)
Emblem (1952–1965)
Emblem (1965–1989)

Ceaușescu's denunciation of the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia and a brief relaxation in internal repression led to a positive image both at home and in the West.