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RFE Correspondent Curates Book On Occupation Of Czechoslovakia

Czechoslovakia -- Czech youngsters hold a Czechoslovak flag stand atop an overturned truck as other Prague residents surround Soviet tanks in Prague, 21Aug1968

A book curated by an RFE correspondent compiles accounts of Lithuanian soldiers who took part in the 1968 occupation of Czechoslovakia.

On February 20 in Prague the Mene Tekel festival against totalitarianism began with an exhibition at Charles University. The event, now in its 5th year, examines totalitarianism in its many forms, focusing specifically this year on art and education. It was the perfect venue for the February 21 unveiling and launch of “Okupanti Tahnete Domu!” - a new book compiling firsthand retrospective accounts of Lithuanian soldiers who took part in the invasion and occupation of Czechoslovakia following the 1968 Prague Spring.

The book – the title of which translates to “Occupiers Go Home!” – was compiled under the guidance of RFE/RL newsroom correspondent Valentinas Mite. A Lithuanian himself, Mite says he was drawn to the project by the unique relationship Lithuanians had with occupied Czechs. “Lithuanians came to Czechoslovakia as occupiers being occupied themselves,” he says, “and their feelings were with the Czech people.”

Indeed, such post-Soviet solidarity is evidenced just inside the book’s front cover, which boasts endorsements from Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg as well as his Lithuanian counterpart Andronius Azubalis.

The publication of “Okupante Tahnete Domu!” constitutes a unique landmark in the Czech historical narrative. Explains Mite, “On the whole it is one of the first books in Czech actually written by former occupiers. I hope it will be some kind of source for Czech historians investigating the period and will help for better mutual understanding.”

“Okupante Tahnete Domu!” will soon be available in stores in the Czech Republic.