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August 21, 1968: The Soviet-Led Invasion Of Czechoslovakia

Forty-seven years ago, Soviet troops and their Warsaw Pact allies invaded Czechoslovakia to bring an end to that country's brief period of political liberalization, called the Prague Spring. About 500,000 troops were involved in the invasion and occupation, during which 108 Czechoslovaks died and some 500 were wounded. The invasion ended the political and economic reforms led by Alexander Dubcek and reasserted dominant Soviet and Communist authority in Czechoslovakia. It also helped establish the Brezhnev Doctrine, which Moscow said allowed the U.S.S.R. to intervene in any country where a Communist government was under threat. (Photos from the Czech Press Agency archives)


Soviet tanks are surrounded by crowds of Czechs protesting against the invasion on Prague's Wenceslas Square on August 21, 1968.
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Soviet tanks are surrounded by crowds of Czechs protesting against the invasion on Prague's Wenceslas Square on August 21, 1968.

 A young Prague resident climbs on a Soviet T-54 tank on Vinohradska Sreet near the state radio building.
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 A young Prague resident climbs on a Soviet T-54 tank on Vinohradska Sreet near the state radio building.

Invading Soviet tanks with white markings deploy near the Communist Party headquarters in Prague.
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Invading Soviet tanks with white markings deploy near the Communist Party headquarters in Prague.

A Czechoslovak woman talks to Soviet soldiers on a tank as she protests against the invasion in Prague.
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A Czechoslovak woman talks to Soviet soldiers on a tank as she protests against the invasion in Prague.

Young women watch as tanks approach the state radio headquarters.
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Young women watch as tanks approach the state radio headquarters.

Buses and trucks used as a barricade by protesters were reduced to rubble by fire and Soviet tanks.
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Buses and trucks used as a barricade by protesters were reduced to rubble by fire and Soviet tanks.

A protester holds a bloodstained Czechoslovak flag in front of a Soviet tank.
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A protester holds a bloodstained Czechoslovak flag in front of a Soviet tank.

Soviet soldiers try to extinguish a burning tank set on fire by protesters near the Czechoslovak Radio headquarters in Prague.
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Soviet soldiers try to extinguish a burning tank set on fire by protesters near the Czechoslovak Radio headquarters in Prague.

A photographer approaches a Soviet tank to take a photo on central Wenceslas Square.
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A photographer approaches a Soviet tank to take a photo on central Wenceslas Square.

Protesters throw stones at the Soviet tanks entering Prague.
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Protesters throw stones at the Soviet tanks entering Prague.

A Soviet tank rams a city bus after protesters set up a barricade to block Soviet forces near the Czechoslovak radio headquarters.
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A Soviet tank rams a city bus after protesters set up a barricade to block Soviet forces near the Czechoslovak radio headquarters.

Soviet tanks and armored vehicles guard an area of Republic Square in downtown Prague.
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Soviet tanks and armored vehicles guard an area of Republic Square in downtown Prague.

Mourners attend the funeral of 20-year-old Milan Kadlec, who was killed during the invasion.
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Mourners attend the funeral of 20-year-old Milan Kadlec, who was killed during the invasion.

A Russian-language banner in the city of Plzen, in western Czechoslovakia, reads "Occupiers Go Home."
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A Russian-language banner in the city of Plzen, in western Czechoslovakia, reads "Occupiers Go Home."

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