Remembering culture’s role in the Prague Spring

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BY THE  time Alexander Dubcek became head of Czechoslovakia’s Communist Party in January 1968, a sense of change was already in the air. In 1967, members of the writers’ union held a conference espousing their opposition to censorship, and students had marched on Prague Castle to protest conditions in dormitories. After a brutal police crackdown failed to quell the unrest, reformers like Dubcek gained the upper hand in an internal party struggle. Part policy, part accident, a period of cultural liberalisation, the so-called Prague Spring, followed. 

Fifty years later, the Soviet-led invasion of August 1968 is still a mainstay of European history courses, but the role that artists and writers played in the temporary thaw is overlooked—as is the impact Literarni noviny (“Literary News”), a periodical still produced today. Following the conference and additional agitation in the pages of the paper, which was the official weekly of the writers’ union, the government placed it under control of the culture ministry….Continue reading

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