About the Author

Janka Barkóczi

E-Mail: barjanka@gmail.com

Website:

Janka Barkóczi is a Hungarian film critic and film historian. She works as an associate of the Institute of Media and Motion Picture Arts at Budapest Metropolitan University and she is a doctoral student at the Doctoral School of Social Communication at Corvinus University of Budapest. She researches and publishes about the history of the Hungarian newsreel industry and the historical context of visual propaganda techniques used in Eastern Europe.

Contributions by Author: Janka Barkóczi

11/30/2017 _Perspective

Another Twelve Years

Hungarian Newsreels and the Invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968

This report has just arrived from Prague. Following the days at the end of August, the daily routine of life slowly returns. In the first days of September, some traces of attempts for blocking the traffic were still visible here and there, like burnt-out buses and various gangs of people. A typical picture: groups gathering in the streets and squares, arguing sometimes more aggressively, sometimes rather softly. The soberness, the traditional friendship of the nations in fraternity, the discipline of the military corps and the activity of the Party and of the governmental organizations of Czechoslovakia do overcome difficulties. The networks of traffic and communication work. People calmed down, doing their job again. The Prague Airport, which was closed down for a while, re-enters the air traffic. Planes heading to the five continents can carry new, reassuring news of consolidation. So begins the commentary of the weekly Hungarian Newsreel of the 37th week of 1968. [1] The film, published in early September of that year, depicts the streets of the Czechoslovakian capital as a peaceful place, spotted with only a few traces of the earlier turbulences. Apart from several burnt-out vehicles, we see citizens, soldiers, and police forces chatting in sunny open-air spaces with pleasant smiles on their faces. In these images, men and women hurry to perform everyday tasks, while children lie in prams or peek playfully from an airstair next to an airplane. Everything seems peaceful and quiet, as if to assure the viewer that certain events about which they might have heard were only part of a temporary misunderstanding, without a bigger stake. The editor has good reason to neglect to mention that the Hungarian People’s Army was involved in a military action invading the country, an event that was nowhere near as delightful as the scene presented here. Even though he cannot skip the news as a whole, he hides and reshapes the details, creating a new narrative already in fiction. 1_That Summer Night During the night of August 20, 1968, almost twelve years after the Soviet regime crushed the Hungarian revolution, the Warsaw Pact allies invaded Czechoslovakia to put an end to the Prague Spring and the country’s reformist trends. During the joint invasion, which was announced as a military training exercise with the code name Operation Danube, Soviet troops were accompanied by the military forces of Hungary, Poland, East Germany and Bulgaria. Among many other…