After the Second World War, Czechoslovakia became a communist state under the influence of the Soviet Union and Moscow. Czechoslovakia had been an independent state until the start of the Second World War, when it came under German influence. So, the Soviets imposed their will on this relatively Western-cultured country, but de-Stalinization led to changes in the Czechoslovakia. These changes culminated in the rise of Alexander Dubcek, the Slovak party leader, to the position of First Secretary of Czechoslovak Communist Party on January 5th, 1968.
Dubcek was a reform-minded career politician who had gained the support of the large opposition to the previous First Secretary, Antonin Novotny. Dubcek and his allies began the period known as the Prague Spring, seeking to reform the Czechoslovak socialist system to promote economic growth. This wave of liberalization gained steam and
support amongst the people and soon was out of the control of Dubcek. When he was instructed by high-ranking members of the Warsaw Pact and Soviet Union to stop the reforms, he refused to use oppressive measures to regain control.
Due to his inaction, the Soviets decided to intervene themselves. According to an editorial of the time, entitled, “Defense of Socialism is the Highest Internationalist Duty,” the Soviets became involved at the behest of the Czechoslovaks, in order to oppose the threat to “the constitutionally established state system by counterrevolutionary forces that have entered into collusion with external forces hostile to socialism.” This same article upheld that the majority of “Presidium of the C.C.P. Central Committee” opposed these “counterrevolutionaries.” This article reveals a lot of the one-sided and biased view of the Prague Spring from Moscow. Thus, in mid-August 1968, the Red Army invaded Czechoslovakia to restore order, tanks sweeping over the unarmed demonstrators and student protestors. The Prague Spring was crushed by the brute force of Soviet military might.
Following the Prague Spring and the Soviet intervention, Czechoslovakia was made into a federated republic composed of the Czech Socialist Republic and the Slovak Socialist Republic, in an attempt to stabilize the country and maintain socialism. However, the ghost of the Prague Spring haunted the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic into the 1970s and 1980s, with the rise of democratic opposition parties. Eventually this opposition, led by prominent activists such as Vaclav Havel, ousted the Communist from power and established a new government for Czechoslovakia with free elections. In what became known as the “Velvet Revolution,” Czechoslovakia voluntarily split into the modern independent countries of the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The roots of that revolution and the Havel’s movement began in the Prague Spring of 1968.
Pravda Editorial: http://dlib.eastview.com/browse/doc/13759333
Seventeen Moments, Crisis in Czechoslovakia: http://www.soviethistory.org/index.php?page=subject&show=images&SubjectID=1968czechoslovakia&Year=1968&navi=byYear