Czech TV to screen 1968 Soviet invasion live

7. 8. 2008
Testimonies, live entries and more on August Night

Prague - August 20 will see "Live from the past" broadcast kick off on public service Czech TV (ČT). The program called the "August Night" (Srpnová noc) is to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Warsaw pact troops invasion on August 21, 1968.

"Cross-media project"

The program has not been prepared in advance. It will be broadcast live using pre-filmed memories, archives and live entries. "It is our biggest cross-media project so far," program director of ČT Kateřina Fričová said.

The program is to interlink the TV broadcast with its web page, viewers' reactions, archives, testimonies of the witnesses and commentaries of the historians.

Read more: Soviet invasion of 1968 to have its own web page

Songs by Karel Kryl, Marta Kubišová, Václav Neckář and Hana Hegerová that became iconic at that time will serve to create an authentic atmosphere.

Václav Havels and others

Now-celebrities and leaders that were somehow linked to the event will present their views too, either directly in the studio or via pre-filmed interviews.

"Václav Havel, Petr Pithart, Jiří Dientsbier, Čestmír Císař or Zdeněk Svěrák are all to talk about their memories of the ominous day of August 21,1968," says spokesman of ČT Ladislav Šticha. All these figures were staunch opponents of the invasion. 

As for the opposite side, it was somewhat impossible to get someone from the Communist Party, says Daniel Růžička, ČT production manager. ČT tried to get help from the current Communist Party (KSČM) but to no avail.

Read more: 1968: Bilateral meeting anticipated Soviet invasion

ČT is trying to get in touch with a number of people who headed the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (KSČ) back then, says Růžička.

Viewers' contributions

ČT obtained numerous materials from viewers, including unique amateur video-recordings.

Read more: ID pierced by bullet a reminder of 1968 invasion

Some of the materials come from the archives of the Communist state security (StB) and have never been screened yet.

ČT prepared the program in cooperation with the Institute for the Studies of Totalitarian Regimes and the National Museum.

The August Night will kick off at 6 am the following day.

Read more: Totalitarian regime study institute OKd by court

Underground broadcast

During the Soviet invasion, Czechoslovak radio and television continued in their broadcast despite the difficult circumstances - TV studios were controlled by the occupation forces, while the radio broadcast from a provisional seat.

"Reporters and cameramen filmed in the streets even during machine-gun fire. All the footage they got was secretly delivered to Austrian television that eventually broadcast it around the world," explains director of ČT Jiří Janeček who was only 12 at that time.

"I just remember my mother who came to wake me up, tears in her eyes, saying ´The Soviets invaded our country´. 

autor: Irena Hejdová | 7. 8. 2008

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