German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that the memory of the Prague Spring -- a short-lived democratic uprising in Czechoslovakia 40 years ago -- should be kept alive.
The Soviets put down the Prague Spring uprising by force in August 1968
For many in the former Soviet-bloc states of Eastern Europe, 1968 was not so much about student protests but about the memory of events like the Prague Spring, Merkel said on Saturday, June 21, in her weekly podcast.
"Not only were economic reforms introduced, there was also a bit more freedom for the population," said the chancellor, who grew up in communist East Germany.
Merkel linked the events in Prague to the 1953 mass protests in East Germany, the Hungarian uprising in 1956 and the Polish Solidarity movement of the 1980s.
All these events contributed to the fact "that we can live in peace and democracy on our continent today," she added.
The Prague Spring communist reform movement was crushed by a Soviet-led invasion in August 1968.
To mark the occasion, Merkel will be joined by Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek and his Slovak counterpart Robert Fico at a remembrance ceremony in Berlin on June 25.