Dick Meister: A Czech miracle


It was 20 years ago this month when the "Velvet Revolution" erupted in Czechoslovakia and
Eastern Europe

By Dick Meister

It’s a time of celebration in Prague this month. A time to mark the November day 20 years ago when the “Velvet Revolution” erupted. A time to mark the beginning of the end of the Soviet rule that had crushed democratic reform movements in Czechoslovakia and its eastern and central European neighbors.

For two decades, Soviet troops and Soviet-controlled political leaders had been in charge. But then, on that November day in 1989, hundreds of protesting university students marched through downtown Prague. Riot police moved in to club and beat the peaceful marchers, prompting widespread outrage and a month of peaceful demonstrations -- the “Velvet Revolution” – that would soon lead to the end of Soviet domination.

It was a realization, at last, of the high hopes for liberation raised 20 years earlier. I was there in the hopeful summer of 1968, one of the journalists who had rushed over to record the miracle that was occurring throughout central and eastern Europe during what was known worldwide as ”The Prague Spring.”