Prague/Liberec - On 21 August 1968, Jindřich Kuliš happened to be on a square in the town of Liberec, taking pictures of the Soviet troops that just entered the city. Soon after he ran out of film and headed across the square to buy a new one.
As he was crossing the street, he got shot.
Kuliš, a 25 year-old father of a small boy, died later in a hospital. The Soviet soldier who killed him was never caught.
Now, the story of Jindřich Kuliš along with other 107 similar stories has been documented by the Institute of Contemporary History.
The institute's project is called The Stories of Victims of the August Occupation and tells untold stories of people whose death is related to the Warsaw Pact troops presence on Czechoslovakia´s soil in August 1968.
ID card as a reminder
In the case of Kuliš, a rare artifact reminding the unfortunate times was found. Kuliš´s wife donated his ID card which still has a hole pierced by a lethal bullet shot 40 years ago to the Institute.
"The ID is completely torn, so you cannot really read his name. Because of that the hospital staff had problems with identifying him back then," Jitka Svobodová who heads the project explained to Aktuálně.cz.
A picture of the destroyed ID will be included in a book to be published shortly before the 40th anniversary of the invasion this year.
Prevented from honoring the departed
According to Svobodová the most interesting part of the project was to learn how these tragic events influenced the ordinary lives of the victims´relatives and friends.
"These people were often subjected to persecution - cruel interrogations, permanent surveillance, impossibility to pursue higher education and so on," explained Svobodová.
"The sad thing is that these people were often deprived of honoring their deceased beloved. They were banned from putting a flower on the place where they died or on their grave. During an anniversary these places were closely observed and flowers were immediately removed," added Svobodová.
"Closed chapter" for some
The historians collected tens of addresses of relatives of people who died in unfortunate accidents. Nonetheless, they managed to get in touch with no more than ten persons. These were very not only helpful with sharing their memories but also offered photos and other documents.
"These people maintain that there should be no silence over these tragic events, quite on the contrary," explained Svobodová.
There were others that refused, though.
"For them this part of history is a closed chapter and they are not interested in speaking about it with anybody," explained Svobodová. She added that their stories and photos often appear on TV or in newspapers without their consent.