This anonymous young man sums up the sense of uncertainty that came with the invasion:
“I am a Czech student, 22 years old. At this very moment, as I am recording, Russian tanks, prepared for any action, are standing in a big park just under my window. I don’t know whether I will ever finish my studies or meet my friends abroad again. And I could count and count, but at this moment everything somehow loses its sense. At 3 a.m., August 21 1968, I woke up to a completely different world from the one I went to sleep in.”
During the days that followed, foreign correspondents were running around Prague, trying to make sense of what was going on. They recorded numerous interviews, especially with students, who had gone out into the streets in huge numbers, trying to persuade the young Soviet soldiers that they were unwanted and uninvited. Here are two students talking to the BBC on the third day of the invasion, August 24.
Young woman: “I have been speaking with many Russian soldiers. You cannot explain anything to them. They are like a wall. You ask them: ‘Why did you come?’ They said: ‘We are your brothers, we are liberators.’ I say: ‘No, that isn’t true. You can see that there is no counter-revolution, that nobody wants you, nobody needs your help.’ ‘No, I am your friend, I am your brother and I came to make freedom, I came to make order in your country.’”
Young man: “They are always saying that they want to fight against a counter-revolution in Czechoslovakia, but I think they don’t know what counter-revolution means. From January we had a new government which united the Czech nation, and now the Russians came to make another government. This is the counter-revolution!”