Prague: Institute reveals posters salvaged by mystery collector in 1968

Historian Jana Bachová fingers a table-size binder of yellowing posters. Some are scrawled on paper bakery bags, others carefully lettered in tri-colored ink, bearing the stamps of illegal printing presses. Their messages channel a spectrum of emotions, ranging from derogatory anti-Russian slurs and revolutionary slogans to humorist rhymes and sentimental poetry.
As a whole, they embody the “colloquial creativity” of a resistant nation, Bachová says.

“It’s an appellation to the people, urging them not to give up, telling them that all will end well.”

On Aug. 20, the Military History Institute in Prague revealed the 128 posters, which provide the latest example of the public’s spontaneous resistance against Warsaw Pact troops following the Aug. 21, 1968, invasion of Czechoslovakia.

The event marked the beginning of 20 years of Soviet control.

A librarian discovered the collection two years ago hidden within the institute’s archive of old military maps. According to Bachová, they had been salvaged by an unknown collector on the night of Aug. 26, five days into the occupation.

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