Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia

The Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia, officially known as Operation Danube, was a joint invasion of Czechoslovakia by four Warsaw Pact countries (the Soviet Union, Poland, Bulgaria and Hungary) on the night of 20–21 August 1968.[20] Approximately 500,000[7] Warsaw Pact troops attacked Czechoslovakia that night, with Romania and Albania refusing to participate.[21][22] East German forces, except for a small number of specialists, did not participate in the invasion because they were ordered from Moscow not to cross the Czechoslovak border just hours before the invasion.[23] 137 Czechoslovakian civilians were killed[17] and 500 seriously wounded during the occupation.[18]

Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia
Operation Danube
Part of the Cold War, the Sino-Soviet split, the Albanian–Soviet split, the Romanian–Soviet split, the Yugoslav–Soviet split, and the protests of 1968

Photograph of a Soviet tank in Prague during the Warsaw Pact's occupation of Czechoslovakia.
Date20–21 August 1968
Location
Result

Warsaw Pact victory

Belligerents

Warsaw Pact:


Logistics support

  •  East Germany (invasion canceled, troops prepared, part of the executive staff)

Diplomatic support:
 Cuba[1]
 North Korea[1]
 North Vietnam[1]
Mongolia[2]

 Czechoslovakia


Diplomatic support:
 Romania[3]
 Yugoslavia[4]
 Albania
 China[5]
Commanders and leaders

Leonid Brezhnev
Nikolai Podgorny
Alexei Kosygin
Andrei Grechko
Ivan Yakubovsky
Todor Zhivkov
Dobri Dzhurov
Władysław Gomułka
Wojciech Jaruzelski
János Kádár
Lajos Czinege
Walter Ulbricht


Diplomatic support:
Fidel Castro
Kim Il-sung
Ho Chi Minh[6]
Yumjaagiin Tsedenbal

Alexander Dubček
Ludvík Svoboda
Oldřich Černík
Martin Dzúr


Diplomatic support:
Nicolae Ceaușescu
Josip Broz Tito
Enver Hoxha
Mao Zedong
Zhou Enlai
Strength

Initial invasion:
250,000 (20 divisions)[7]
2,000 tanks[8]
800 aircraft
Peak strength:
500,000[9] 350,000–400,000 Soviet troops, 70,000–80,000 from Poland, Bulgaria and Hungary[10]
6,300 tanks[11]


30 Member of GDR in the executive staff; 2 GDR-Divisions in reserve

235,000 (18 divisions)[12][13]
2,500–3,000 tanks
(No units engaged)

100,000+ Protesters
Casualties and losses
96 killed (84 in accidents)
87 wounded[14]
5 soldiers committed suicide[15]
10 killed (in accidents and suicides)[16]
4 killed (in accidents)
2 killed
137 civilians killed,[17] 500 seriously wounded[18]
70,000 Czechoslovak citizens fled to the West immediately after the invasion. Total number of emigrants before the Velvet Revolution reached 300,000.[19]

The invasion successfully stopped Alexander Dubček's Prague Spring liberalisation reforms and strengthened the authority of the authoritarian wing within the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (KSČ). The foreign policy of the Soviet Union during this era was known as the Brezhnev Doctrine.[24]

Public reaction to the invasion was widespread and divided. Although the majority of the Warsaw Pact supported the invasion along with several other communist parties worldwide, Western nations, along with Albania, Romania and particularly China condemned the attack, and many other communist parties either lost influence, denounced the USSR or split up/dissolved due to conflicting opinions. The invasion started a series of events that would ultimately see Brezhnev establishing peace with U.S. President Richard Nixon in 1972 after the latter's historic visit to China earlier that year.

The legacy of the invasion of Czechoslovakia remains widely talked about among historians and has been seen as an important moment in the Cold War. Analysts believe that the invasion caused the worldwide communist movement to fracture, ultimately leading to the Revolutions of 1989, and the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.