Sunday, January 20, 2008

When Hope Faded

There's a bronze memorial plaque on the front of Liberec Town Hall to the nine local victims of August 21st 1968, now used as a meeting place on the way to the pub. A four-star hotel stands on the side of Beneš Square that the tanks smashed through. High above the town, a Gugarin-aged needle stuck in the peak of Ještěd, is the tower-cum-restaurant-cum-hotel from which a young Václav Havel made his final pro-freedom broadcasts as Warsaw Pact troops poured across the border. The trauma's barely felt forty years later: for most Czechs, the past, literally, is another country.

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