The forces crushed the Prague Spring movement that had briefly introduced democratic reforms to the totalitarian Soviet-led regime.
‘Ivan, go home’
“Ivan, go home, your Natasha is dating Kolya,” went another slogan, which then inspired a popular song: “Go home Ivan, Natasha is waiting for you/ Go home Ivan, our girls don’t love you/ Go home Ivan, and don’t ever come back!”
Marchers on the day of the invasion carry a banner reading “Never Again with the Soviet Union” — updating the slogan “Forever with the Soviet Union”
Such chants puzzled the ordinary Soviet soldiers who did not understand why they were sent to Czechoslovakia in the first place and now had to face the question “Why did you come?” dozens of times a day in Russian from Czechs and Slovaks.
“The TASS news agency reports that the soldiers were welcomed with flowers. We add: this is true, but they were in flying flower pots,” went one such joke.
The typical humour seen in the classic Czech novel “The Good Soldier Svejk”, whose hero pretends to be both naive and stupid to steer clear of problems, was on display in numerous appeals against collaborating with the occupiers and their local helpers.
The Vecerni Praha newspaper published “Ten Commandments” for local residents: “1) I don’t know, 2) I don’t know them, 3) I won’t tell, 4) I don’t have that, 5) I can’t do that, 6) I won’t give that, 7) I can’t, 8) I won’t sell that, 9) I won’t show that, 10) I won’t do that.”
To slow down the Soviet army and secret services, Czechs and Slovaks painted road signs across the country white, while streets were renamed “Dubcek Street” after the reformist leader Alexander Dubcek.
Svoboda at first cautiously supported Dubcek’s reforms, but he bowed to the Soviet-imposed “normalisation” in the end.
“Welcome, Svoboda. Have you brought freedom?” asked an inscription on a wall when Czechoslovak leaders were due to return from a visit to Moscow.