In 1968, the Russians rolled into Wenceslas Square, Prague in their tanks to declare martial law. This monumental square would also be the site for the Velvet Revolution in 1989.
1989 view. . .
The Russian empire( Warsaw Pack) started to crumble, the students and intellectuals took the lead in the Czechoslovakia, but smartly included the blue collar workers in declaring a strike that shut down the country. The size of the crowd in the square grew from 200,000 to 500,000 in one day. The people were of one mind and one purpose, freedom. There was unity among the oppressed.
Professor says that the Czechs are unique in that in her history they had been autonomous, and had had a free market economy. Miraculously, these strong human values had not been lost during many years of oppression. They had been under Russia’s control since the end of WWII. There is a strong love of music, literature, and all the arts. The first modern president was Mr. Havel, a renown playwright. You will see him in the video. I hope you noticed, too, the brave Czechs putting flowers in the barrels of the soldiers guns and candles to light their way.
We were in Prague just a few years after the Velvet Revolution. There was a huge process to get permission to enter. The man in the embassy who was in charge of allowing groups had studied architecture and he and the professor hit it off! The Czechs had lots of work to do to restore their beautiful architecture. It rivals the beauty of Paris, in our opinion. There is an interesting story in that all the buildings are original unlike most of the cities in Europe because of the lack of Allied bomb in WWII. We ate in a restaurant that was started in 1360 and entered by walking down stairs because of layers and layers of history. The Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque and especially the High Baroque churches are exquisite. I will post with some pictures later.
One aside, is that we saw the Czechs working very diligently, with flood lights on the buildings so that work could be done at night. There was a real challenge on installing phones. We were told that the numbers changed almost weekly as they unraveled that challenge. You might be curious why Prague was not bombed, as the Germans were close and Hitler had a summer home with the view of Prague. The Allies knew that the Czechs were pro-Allies and even manged to send important war information. The Brits and Americans wanted to keep that relationship. In exchange for information, the Allies didn’t bomb Prague. Tourists around the world are indebted to them for that!
The Czechs’ strong love of freedom , hard work, and fair market economics immediately kicked in as the tanks left and improvement on long neglected buildings and road changed quickly. Unlike the Czechs, the Russian people were first oppressed peasants and then Communist controlled. They have never learned the lifestyle of the Czechs and their failure at democracy seems to prove it.
The Charles Bridge is full of tourists. I found Prague on a list of the world’s most beautiful places !
This ends the three day history lessons. . . . . .thanks to those of you who like such tales.
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