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Exhibition captures key moment of 1968 'Prague Spring' invasion


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Exhibition captures key moment of 1968 'Prague Spring' invasion

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An exhibition of iconic photographs has gone on show in Bucharest, Romania.

The photographs capture the moment in 1968 when Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact troops invaded Czechoslovakia.

During the seven-day military intervention, the now award-winning photographer Josef Koudelka used several rolls of film to record this key moment in history.

Koudelka had returned to Prague from another photographic project just two days before the Soviet invasion, in August 1968. He witnessed first-hand the moment Czech reforms were literally stamped on by military forces.

A visitor to the exhibition stressed the importance of remembering the invasion:

“We (older people) can remember what happened in that period and young people can learn what it means to defend liberty and human rights.”

The pictures survived because Koudelka managed to smuggle the negatives to the Magnum agency. The photographs were then published anonymously in The Sunday Times, under the initials ‘P.P’ (Prague Photographer), to protect him and his family.

He was only named and recognised as the photographer in 1985, after his father, who had remained in Czechoslovakia, died.

Koudelka allows the photographs to speak for themselves:

“Pictures are important because they documented what really happened, and it was that the Russians were lying, like still the lying is continuing in the newspapers, in the television, everywhere,” he says.

“And people just should react as a human being to whatever they will see.”

Koudelka’s work is considered special by Romanians who, under the rule of Nicolae Ceaușescu, were one of just two Warsaw Pact countries to decline to participate in the invasion.

The ‘Invasion 68 Prague’ exhibition will travel from Bucharest through various cities across Romania for the rest of 2013.

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