Friday, August 20, 2010

Prague 1968

I saw this link and it is from another time. There is a list going around about the entering class of college (2014) and what they have never experienced. One thing is the Soviet Union did not exist when they were born. A vast prison house of nations that had grown and metastasized for 70 years; based on an ideology that swayed millions in the West and around the world vanished like a nightmare in five years.

When I was a boy my father served in the American army that stood watch on the Rhine for 40 years waiting for the massive armored attack that never came. In 1968 I was in Baumholder where he was stationed. The U.S. Army, though reduced in numbers, is there still, .

An American miltary base in 1960's Europe was pretty idyllic for a kid. There were many other kids and play time. Kindergarten still had a german name but was all American. You learned how to salute and what ranks were what pretty early. The Army wives were all very close and we stil see my parents friends from that time even now more than 40 years on. So you can't think of it as a tense time day to day for civilians. In fact, given the social unrest in the U.S. of those years it was like an extra three years in the 50's, early 1960's for us.

Then in 1968 the Soviet tanks rolled into Prague. The Warsaw Pact (look it up kids) sent "fraternal help" to the Czecholslovaks (look it up kids) to put down counterrevolutionaries. The order came down to "bug out." The tanks were moving and no one knew when they would stop. All civilians were to pack up a few belongings and would be sent West as fast as possible. My parents listened to Prague radio which had been taken over by the Free Czechs. (I do not remember most of this only a general excitement that we were leaving fast and my father was stayng). As she describes it, the announcer begged for Western help. "I can see the tanks in the streets. They are coming... " followed by the end of broadcast. No non-Communist voices would air from that station for 20 years. It was over so fast the bug out order was rescinded and no one had to leave.

The only mass protests in the United States against war that year was against U.S. efforts to prevent the same type of government from being imposed on the people of South Vietnam. That people has yet to have a Spring.

1 comment:

Dave S. said...

Most of the time I wish we had more commenters. Then I see the comments on a post like that and reconsider.