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Czech Centre in London to show cartoonists’ view of 1968 events

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Prague, July 26 (CTK) – An exhibition of some 40 cartoons of 12 British and Czech authors reflecting the 1968 events in Czechoslovakia will open in the Vitrinka Gallery of the Czech Centre in London on Friday, Petra Pribylova, from the Czech Centres agency, told CTK on Thursday.

The Czech Centre in London has organised the event in cooperation with Tim Benson, from the Cartoon Picture Gallery in London, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the 1968 Soviet-led invasion that crushed the Prague Spring communist-led reform movement in Czechoslovakia.

The British press monitored the 1968 political events in Czechoslovakia and condemned the invasion also with the aid of humour and caricature, Pribylova said.

The exhibition will for the first time show the original cartoons by famous British political satirists, such as Leslie Gilbert Illingworth, Michael Cummings, Stanley Franklin and Emmwood (John Musgrave-Jones), Benson said.

They published their cartoons in the major British papers, The Times, The Sunday Telegraph, The Daily Express and The Daily Mail, between March and October 1968.

The central motive of the exhibition is a work by political cartoonist John Jensen entitled “Make Love Not War or We’ll Kill You,” which is a paraphrase of the cult slogan of the 1960s to fit the Soviet diplomacy model.

Though the Communist regime considered political caricature subversive 50 years ago, there were also some Czech cartoonists who focused on politics then, such as Jiri Jirasek, Jaroslav Malak and Miroslav Lidak whose works, published in the papers Lidove noviny and Vecernik Praha and weeklies Mlady svet and Dikobraz, are displayed in London.

The “Prague Spring 1968 in Cartoons” exhibition will be held in the Vitrinka Gallery of the Czech Centre in London between July 27 and September 2.

Thee Warsaw Pact troops entered Czechoslovakia in the night of August 20-21, 1968. This meant the end the experiment of the Prague Spring reform movement, led by the ruling Communist party. The short effort to introduce “socialism with a human face” was replaced by a long “normalisation” period accompanied by new purges and suppression of fundamental rights and freedoms in Czechoslovakia.

The Czech Centres, subsidised organisations of the Foreign Ministry representing the country abroad in the area of culture, education, trade and tourism, plan a dozen projects connected with the important anniversaries this year.

Along with August 1968, Czechs will also commemorate 100 years of the establishment of Czechoslovakia on October 28, 1918.

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