Prague Spring: revolution or reform?

In the summer of 1968, I was 20 and becoming very interested in international politics. I followed with interest and excitement the attempts by the Czechoslovak Communists to reform their political structures and I was desperately saddened and angered by the invasion of the Warsaw Pact forces which brutally crushed these efforts at reform. I did not know then that years later I would marry a woman whose father was Czech and visit the country over 20 times.
This evening, I was at the Czech Embassy in London to hear a lecture by Dr Oldrich Tuma entitled “The Prague Spring After 40 Years: Anti-Communist Revolution Or Campaign To Reform Communism?” The answer to the question appears to be: both. The liberalisation process started as the latter but, as people took control of developments away the Communist Party, it became something of the former – which is what scared the Soviet leadership and brought about the occupation.
Before attending the lecture, I had coffee and a chat with my close Slovak friend Ivan Sloboda. I took him to a place he had never seen before: Cafe Diana which is just opposite the Czech and Slovak Embassies and very close to where Princess Diana used to live. Although i am constitutionally a republican (but certainly not politically a Republican!), I find this cafe fascinating because the walls are covered from top to bottom with photographs of Diana.

One Comment

  • Margriet Breemer

    Dear Mister Darlington,
    I met a Ivan Sloboda in my early twenties at winter sport and later that summer in the Netherlands, he had a summer job at the University of Delft.
    As Ivan Sloboda is one of your friends, you refer to him, could you ask him if he is the same person (there are more Ivan Sloboda’s I found out, in England, Israel and Czech, which can be a link to the same person I met…) and if he is the same person, would you be so kind to give him my email address.
    Thank you in advance,
    Margriet Breemer


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