Sixty-eight years ago, the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia seized power in a violent coup. At the time just after WWII, my parents were living in Long Island, NY in the hamlet of Sayville. Before the coup, they’d considered moving back to my dad’s Czech homeland where he wished to practice medicine. His interest in returning was confirmed in a letter from his Aunt Valerie, a letter he kept until his death in 2000. With his dream dashed, he was forced to watch from the outside the next 41 years in which hundreds of thousands of non-Communist citizens of Czechoslovakia were tortured, imprisoned, persecuted in many ways and some killed.
At last, in 1989, Czechoslovakia regained freedom through its famous Velvet Revolution. In a stunning 2016 announcement for the anniversary of the coup, the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia issued a statement which praised the legacy of the 1948 coup and recognized the “selflessness of the generators of this form of socialism.” Memories remain firmly in place in the Czech Republic of what happened under Communism with Soviet Union influence. As founding Czechoslovak President Tomas Garrigue Masaryk proclaimed the 1918 motto: “Truth prevails,” former Czech President Václav Havel kept alive with his statement “Truth and love must prevail over lies and hatred.”