In August 1968, Soviet tanks crossed the border into Czechoslovakia to crush what was known as “the Prague Spring”. Czech society had been becoming more liberal, with people wearing jeans and listening to pop music – and so the alarmed Russians put a stop to it and restored strict Communism.
Amidst massive protests, Soviet tanks and more than 600,000 troops rolled into Prague and hundreds of people (including the government) were arrested. The invasion made clear that that the Soviet system was unwilling and unable to change. Reform would not be tolerated.
A period of ‘normalisation’ then ensued, during which a new leadership introduced curbs on the press and a prohibition of the formation of any other political parties.
A few scuffles were the best the civilian population had offered by way of resistance, and most were left to keep sad vigils in Wenceslas Square.