The 1968 occupation of Czechoslovakia is commemorated in front of the Comenius University building
Bratislava, 21 August 2019: The occupation of Czechoslovakia by Warsaw Pact forces on 21 August 1968 was commemorated today by public figures, witnesses to the occupation, and members of the public at the memorial plaque on the main building of Comenius University in Bratislava. The occupation, which 51 years ago saw three people killed in front of the university building, was commemorated by Prime Minister of the Slovak Republic, Peter Pellegrini; Deputy Prime Minister of the Slovak Republic, Richard Raši; the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Gabriela Matečná; the Minister of Education, Martina Lubyová; the Minister of Culture, Ľubica Laššáková; the Minister of Defence, Peter Gajdoš; MEPs; Slovak MPs; ambassadors; and other guests. This commemorative event takes place every year and is organized by the Slovak Confederation of Political Prisoners and Comenius University in Bratislava.
By: CU Public Relations Office
“Today we are standing on a spot that belonged to many nameless heroes 51 years ago,” said Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini. “They came to the squares, where they often did not hesitate to confront the invading army tanks with their own bodies. History has tragically recorded those 37 particular people who paid with their own lives during the military intervention. Today, these wasted human lives are a warning to solving any social situation by brute force or aggression,” he said.
Comenius University rector Marek Števček highlighted three moments which he personally associates with the events in 1968. Among these was 17-year-old Danka Košanová, the world-famous photograph by Ladislav Bielik of a man baring his chest in front of a tank, and the silent protest of Věra Čáslavská. “Freedom is the most fundamental value of our civilization, and our most important duty is to speak out when we lose it. Freedom can be lost in an instant, as in August 1968, or gradually and creepingly, which could happen now. It is essential not to remain silent but to speak out, even if with a silent undefeated gesture of pride,” said the rector.