On January 5th, Alexander Dubcek was elected head of the Communist Party in the CSSR. He introduced reforms, gave trade unions and cultural organizations more autonomy – the beginning of the Prague Spring.
However, Dubcek snubbed the Kremlin with his vision of “socialism with a human face”. Moscow – and also the Socialist Unity Party of Germany – soon saw the reform communist as a threat to the unity of the Eastern bloc.
After all, the Kremlin has had enough: Troops from five Warsaw Pact states enter the CSSR on the night of August 20-21. More than half a million soldiers bring strategically important places in the country under their control.
Thousands of people take to the streets in Prague to defend their newfound rights. They surround the tanks and wave flags. But the Soviet Army brutally suppresses the resistance – more than 100 people die, Dubcek and his Politburo are imprisoned, and his dream of a “Third Way” for communism is over.
sources: bpb; Lemo; Federal foundation work-up