The Straznicky Family
On 21 August 1968, just over a quarter of a century ago, the Warsaw Pact troops led by the Soviet Union invaded the former Czechoslovakia. For Czechoslovak citizens, this meant that their political and economic future would be rigidly controlled once again by the communists. This loss of freedom was something that many would not tolerate a second time. As a result, thousands of individuals and families of Czech and Slovak origin fled their native country in search of a better life. The reasons for the Straznickys' flight are typical of many of the 1968 and 1969 refugees, yet their story is unique.
Ivan and Marta Straznicky are of Slovak and Czech origins. In the region of Moravia, in Zlin and then Litovel, the family led a typical small-town life with five children in a small apartment and a constant struggle with chronic food shortages. While Ivan worked as a patents officer, much of Marta's day was spent in line-ups, waiting to buy food.
The Soviet-led invasion meant that one could no longer speak or act freely. For the Straznickys, the invasion was a shock. Of course they had heard about what was happening in Prague on the radio, but it did not seem real until a few days later when they encountered tanks on their way to church.