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The Underground and Czechoslovakia, 1981–1986

  • Where: Václav Havel Library, Ostrovní 13, Prague 110 00
  • When: October 21, 2021, 10:00 – 17:00

As in previous editions, the years in focus in the sixth international conference on the Czech underground were not selected arbitrarily. A new phase of escalation in the Cold War was reflected in intensified repression against the domestic opposition. Following the trial of the Committee for the Defence of the Unjustly Prosecuted, the Communist regime began a second wave of crackdowns on the underground, culminating in a strike against the magazine Vokno in November 1981. In parallel with the harassment of the dissent the nationwide operation Asanace (Clearance), which forced many connected with the underground and Charter 77 into exile, reached a climax. The State Security’s documents stated that there were around 60 dissidents in the country. The extent of the repression led the opposition to seriously consider halting the work of Charter 77, though fortunately that did not come to pass. While the previous decade represented the underground’s peak, integrating phase, the first half of the 1980s saw its disintegration, the creation of local centres and the organisation of culture independent of the normalisation regime. What’s more, the youth produced a new subculture, the punk movement, which soon found itself in the crosshairs of the security apparatus.

This year’s conference will focus on the above as well as many other, frequently unjustly overlooked, aspects of the period in question. Leading domestic and international experts on the subject of the underground will once again speak.
The conference is organised by the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes and the Václav Havel Library.


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