Tell Me My Fortune
Poviedka po anglicky, napísaná pre japonský European Literature Festival. Pri jej písaní som sa inšpirovala skutočnými udalosťami v ČSSR v roku 1968. Doteraz bola len na stránke festivalu, ale keďže ten už prebehol, dávam ju aj sem v plnom znení.
Tell Me My Fortune
Inspired by true events
They say I can’t be trusted. They’re wrong, of course. I’ve never made anything up! Well, OK, I did, but that was a few years ago! I was still a kid then and that doesn’t count.
Anyways, I do hear a horrendous sound of machines right outside my window that has woken me up. I’m not making it up!
It’s still dark. I’m not even sure what time is it.
I push myself up on my elbows and look around. I can’t see much, not that there’s much to see. Only shadows of a small table, a tall easel, boxes of paints, few books and many LPs. Everybody envies my LP collection. I’m the only one in the neighbourhood who has the new Small Faces album – Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake – released in the UK only a few months ago! I even have huge posters of The Kinks, The Who, Cream and, of course, the Fab Four; these cover all my walls. I’m happy my aunt sent them along with the LPs from England. I’m a proud example of the British Invasion making its way east of the island.
That word triggers an overwhelming feeling of helplessness. Flashes of blood, guns and people running around accompany it.
It’s all gone before I know it. I hate these snippets of randomness. Hate them! They are not helpful at all. They used to confuse me. Now I know they precede a full-blown vision.
I crawl out of the bed. The summer air is refreshing at night, I’m glad I left the window open. I don’t tiptoe around. If the roaring outside has not woken my mum, dad, older brother and grandma up, a creaking wooden floor won’t do the trick. I only need to open the curtains.
What?! You gotta be kidding me!
There are bloody tanks on the street! Plural!
I keep looking down on the street. Now that I’m awake I hear aircraft flying over our block of flats. I start panting.
Something squeaks behind my back. Startled, I jump away from the window, my heart racing.
‘Stan! You gave me a fright!’
‘You should have seen me coming,’ my idiot of a brother teases me.
I don’t bother explaining that’s not how my visions work. He knows that. He’s the only one in my family who pays them at least some attention. The rest pretend I am a normal teenage girl making things up. Okay, so I do sometimes make things up too, but never when it matters!
‘What’s going on? Have you… seen?’ he asks me stressing the word, suddenly all serious.
‘Invasion,’ I answer.
I know he believes me until I’m proven wrong. Which happened only thrice since I started having this annoying ‘gift’. Others in my family keep bringing those three occasions up each time I dare to speak up. I gave up reminding them of all the instances when I was right. I know they’ll never trust me.
‘Oh my god, it’s war! We’re at war again! Oh my god!’ My mum’s wailing is getting closer.
She appears behind my brother’s wheelchair.
Could this lead to war? I am… not sure. No vision. Of course. They never come when I would need real answers. It’s pretty annoying if you ask me.
‘There’s no war, dear,’ my father says with a certainty I wish I had. ‘It’s just a misunderstanding. For sure. Calm down. Let’s have some tea. Maybe they’ll explain it on the radio. Come, come, dear.’
I take another peek through the window. The tanks keep crawling through my town. I see nothing else, neither with my eyes nor with my mind. A sense of danger however is growing inside me, and I can’t shake it off. It’s not fear. Fear feels different.
I join my parents in the kitchen. I remain standing, leaning against the doorframe. I can’t refrain from fidgeting. They do not dare to turn on the electric lights. Grandma lights two candles and sits down. I can see a mix of resolve and exhaustion on her face. She’s seen this all before. Should this be war, it would be her third. She had already buried most of her friends and family. My dad used to have three other siblings.
There is the usual night-time broadcast of soothing music. My father makes tea, my brother takes out a box of biscuits grandma baked two days ago. They taste comfortingly sweet and familiar. I can hear the rattling of the tanks. From time to time, we hear some aircraft.
‘Soviets?’ my father blurts out in surprise when a plane flies near us. He used to be a pilot during the war, I trust his ear.
‘Russians? Why? Why would they do that?’ my mum’s eyes are wide open. It’s strange to see her in dismay. Nothing ever unsettles her. She was a nurse during the war and now works as a surgical nurse in the operating theatre.
‘Don’t you want to sit down?’ grandma asks me in an obvious attempt to change the topic.
I shake my head and go back to my room with one candle lit. I can’t idle here like nothing is happening. I have to do something!
I set the candle on the table and take out my sketchbook. I don’t know what to draw. I doodle as I know it sometimes triggers my visions. I have never done it in the middle of the night in a room lit by candlelight. But hey, there have never been tanks on the streets, so I guess anything goes today.
Argh! Nothing! Not even a tiny glimpse of the future.
I go back to the kitchen and plonk down. The tea is cold already. Nobody is talking. The radio continues with boring music; the military parade outside continues unabated with the threatening sounds of their arrival. I think I heard distant gunshots. I can’t be sure. It wouldn’t have been the first time my overly active imagination had tricked me.
‘Shall we just sit here in silence all night, or do we try to get some sleep? It’s almost one o’clock in the morning,’ my brother points out. Practical as always. He’s so different than me that I sometimes wonder if I’m not adopted. Grandma indicated our parents already gave up hope for a baby at some point.
I suddenly see my big brother lying on the pavement. Dying. I know there’s no hope. The military vehicle did not notice him. His wheelchair’s broken wheel keeps squealing with every turn. My brother is bleeding out. There’s no hope.
I return from the vision to the present and almost yelp. The cry gets stuck in my throat, my eyes stare at my brother in dread.
I can’t let that happen!
‘You think you could fall asleep?’ grandma asks him. It takes me a while to remember that he suggested returning to our beds.
Stan shrugs and returns his attention to the hole in the table he’s been prodding with his fingernail. Grandma, surprisingly, doesn’t slap his hand. At any other time, she would have.
The night music stops and the radio starts cracking loudly. We almost jump.
The broadcaster’s voice sounds terrifyingly calm as he says we should go and wake up our neighbours. There’ll be an important announcement.
My parents comply immediately. Grandma makes us another tea.
‘It’s taking ages!’ I moan.
‘It’s been half an hour.’
Stan rolls his eyes. Nearly two o’clock and still… Hang on! It seems like this is finally it!
We don’t dare to breathe. Father was right. Soviets. Poles. Hungarians. They should not be here. This is my country, my home. I don’t want them here. I don’t want them to kill Stan!
The broadcast is cut off. I have a feeling that they wanted to tell us all to stay calm.
This time the vision is much clearer. People on the crowded streets are anything but calm. Throwing stones, shouting, protesting. Shots. Screams. They look frightened. Not as frightened as they should be. I see my father covered in somebody else’s blood. I see myself, much older than I’m now, scared to death…
‘Nina? What is it?’ Stan pulls me out of the vision.
‘Don’t start with your fantasies, Nina. Not now! Not now!’ my mum warns before I even open my mouth, her voice is almost a high-pitched whistle. A tear rolls down her cheek.
I look at my brother and shake my head. My hands clench into fists. I hide them behind my back. This is so unfair! It’s not as if I’ve chosen to have these horrible visions! I wish Stan and I never sat on that damn motorbike.
‘This is a huge misunderstanding. I am sure. They will leave soon, you’ll see. Once they clarify everything, they’ll leave. They can’t do this. There are laws against this. They will leave, you’ll see,’ father sounds as if he’s trying to convince himself as much as anyone else.
I know he’s wrong. They won’t leave anytime soon. I’m not sure how I know. I haven’t had any vision about that.
I just… know. Hey! This is new!
My face must have shown my surprise and my family looks at me conspicuously.
‘What is it, Nina?’ grandma asks in a soothing voice. I would answer her if we were here alone. She would have taken it with a, well, wagon of salt, but at least she’s always understood that I believe my visions.
‘Nothing,’ I make my excuses and hurriedly flee to my room to avoid further questions.
I sit down to the sketchbook again, this time with an artistic set of coloured pencils.
Before I know it, the visions are upon me and overwhelm me. I barely know what I’m drawing. I keep filling one page after another. Groovy.
The only thing I notice is that I use grey, black and red a lot. I only ever use grey and black if I want to convey something terrible or fearsome. And red? Red is always for blood.
When I finally feel like I’ve drawn everything I can, it’s almost five. I have cramp in my hand and my sketchbook is almost full.
I can’t wait to see them and I’m terrified of the prospect at the same time. The memory of my bleeding brother forces me to turn back to the first page.
The first picture is a gruesome display of war and suffering. Blood is dripping from every faceless person I’ve drawn. My head spins and I feel dizzy. I close my eyes. I don’t want to look at the rest of the pictures.
I hate these visions! I wish this had never happened to me. It’s turned me into a loony. Nobody trusts me. Nobody believes me! And for what?! For me to see strange warnings I often don’t understand? To see nameless faces deformed by fear? To know that the Beatles will only give us four more albums?! I don’t want to know these things!
I let out a silent scream – a gust of air through a widely open mouth. It helps. I eventually collect myself enough to open my eyes again. Taking a deep breath as if I am about to jump into freezing water, I start turning the pages one by one:
A man is standing right in front of the barrel of the tanks’s cannon. His shirt is wide opened as if he is goading the tank to shoot him right through his heart. I recognize the place. It’s right in front of the university building.
That place is in a different picture too. In most of them, people are covering their heads while soldiers are shooting. A girl on the university steps with a red flower pressed to her body. I am not sure why I’ve paid so much attention to her face. The rest of the crowd is roughly sketched, but she… even if the picture is not my best, I can see her eyes widened with surprise. Or is it terror? Probably both.
Why are so many things happening in front of the university building of all places? I fear we’ll all know the answer soon.
There aren’t many pictures of what feels like ‘today’ or upcoming days. Soon they are replaced by pictures that resemble war. I flip through them and I’m confused by my lack of emotions. Am I so cold-hearted?
I understand my indifference once I reach the end of the ‘war’ section. There’s a page filled with words in both languages I speak thanks to my mixed heritage. No sentences, just words:
Sacrifice. Peace. Do nothing. No war. No action. Observe. Cannot fight. Leave them. Internal matters.
As I read them, I expect another vision. Instead, I just ‘know’ we’ve been thrown to the lions. Nobody is coming to help us. We’re not important enough for other countries to start a conflict with the USSR and risk it getting nuclear. There’ll be no war.
I should be relieved, but I’m only angry. How could they do that to us?! That’s not right!
I suddenly realize why some of my visions have been wrong before. The future I see can be changed by decisions. War was a possibility until it wasn’t. Interesting. Having this unprecedented number of visions in one night has its uses.
Still. They should have helped us. Grinding my teeth, I look at what’s next. It’s a new section.
I now see myself in many pictures. One of my faces has no mouth, only scared eyes. In another I am closing my eyes and covering my ears. What is it that don’t I want to see or hear so badly? As I am looking at it, I feel imprisoned, trapped. Most pictures of me in the sketchbook are of me hiding somewhere; under a table, behind the doors, even under a blanket, as if that could ever help. Men with grim faces and sidearms on their belts are searching for me.
I thought my heart was racing before? Wrong. That was only a gentle trot.
One picture shows a pile of my paintings burning. I somehow know it’s not because of my vision, but because I have spoken my mind. I see myself kneeling with my hands cuffed behind my back. My mum is crying, my dad is holding her. Grandma looks like she’s can’t even stand. My brother… my brother is not there.
Where is he?!
I realize I haven’t seen him in any of the pictures.
I recall the vision I had of him in the kitchen and I start flicking through the pages looking for him. He’s not in the ‘today’ section with tanks and guns in my city, he’s not in the ‘war’ part either. I don’t mention him on the page full of words. He’s also not on the pages that make my love of freedom cringe.
My breathing quickens and shallows, I’m barely getting any oxygen. I’m going to faint. My hands are shaking.
Here he is!
I let out a sigh of relief. Too soon.
I look at the vision I’ve drawn. There’s a big lump in my throat. I feel dizzy again. I turn the page and realize I’ve created more of the same – pictures of my brother’s death.
Hit by a car, by a bullet, kicked by savage soldiers, held by men in leather jackets with guns on their belts in a small dark room…
‘No!’ I shriek and start sobbing.
‘What going on?’ my father demands storming into my room.
He sees my tears falling on a page on which my brother has his brains blown out and scattered over the wall of a police cell.
‘What is this?’ he asks in a different tone and I know without looking up that he’s referring to the picture.
‘What?’ I can hear in his voice that he doesn’t understand. Unlike my mother, my father sometimes reluctantly admitted that there might be some truth to my visions.
I look at him, but I have to blink a few times to actually see him; tears run down my cheek now. He’s puzzled and terrified. He should be. His gaze jumps to my sketchbook and back to me. I can see he’s making his mind up about something. I just hope…
‘This…’ he shakes his head in disgust and it’s like he’s stabbing me right through the heart. ‘You’ve taken it too far,’ he growls and leaves without even looking at me, slamming the door behind him.
This is exactly what I hoped he would not do. Why can’t he trust me?!
My tears stop with the sound of the door closing. I am completely emotionally drained. I haven’t slept all night and then this… Shaking my head I force myself to look at the pictures at the end of the sketchbook.
Once my visions got tired of showing me all sorts of deaths my brother could meet, they finally show me something useful.
Last three pictures fill me with some hope. Three options, three possibilities I have to take to save my brother, my family, myself.
With a new resolve, I storm out of my room to the bathroom to wash away the last remnants of my desperation. My Twiggi look with heavy eyeliners and loads of mascara is now like a war painting. Maybe there‘s no war outside, but there is one inside of me.
Mum leaves for work earlier than usual, saying they might need her at the hospital with what’s going on outside. She’s right, but I don’t tell her. Father teaches at a high school, so he’s got summer holidays off like me. He was ‘asked’ to leave the army long ago; the pilots who served in the UK during the war have not been favoured by the new regime. My brother Stan is also at home with us. As an invalid, he’s found it hard to find any summer job before he starts his mathematics degree. Grandma retired two years ago.
Once mother leaves, father drops his calm façade and starts pacing back and forth. He reminds me of a bear I’ve seen at the zoo. After a while, he gets dressed.
‘You stay here,’ he orders us as he’s about to leave.
‘Ok,’ I confirm quickly. It is one of the three ways to keep my brother safe for now.
‘No! No way,’ Stan says in a tone that he inherited from our father. ‘We live right in the centre. Have you seen what’s been happening right outside our windows? The streets are crowded as if it wasn’t six o’clock on a Wednesday morning. If we are not safe out there, we’re not safe anywhere. We might as well all go together and buy some groceries. I bet the shops will be cleared out soon. Besides, who would attack an invalid in a wheelchair?’
My father glances at me. I fiercely shake my head. We mustn’t go anywhere! I open my mouth to protest but before I do, my father sighs and nods. A fatal blow to my first hope.
‘I don’t want you guys to get into any trouble. You’ve heard what they said on the radio…’
There has been another broadcast, one that hasn’t been cut off this time. They said the presence of foreign forces has not been sanctioned by the government.
Yet. I add to myself. How do I know that?!
‘Ok, guys, come with me. Take the shopping bags. We’ll buy some food. But you will do exactly as I say, do you understand me? And no more of that vision nonsense of yours, Nina. I’m warning you.’
I don’t promise anything. I only take the sketchbook filled with pictures and put it in my bag.
The city is in chaos.
People are somehow trying to stop the tanks. It’s as crazy as it sounds. I’ve already saved my brother’s life twice. Once on the crossing when we stopped him from getting run over by an military car. They hadn’t seen him down there in the wheelchair. The second salvation was similar to the first, only this time it involved a tank. So far so good.
My brother and grandma keep asking me what’s wrong. They say I’m awkwardly silent. I can only agree. Normally, I would have commented on everything. An overly dramatic voice is going on and on in my head, driving me nuts. I keep it bottled up.
I must not speak. That’s what the second picture has shown me. No matter how wrong my father is about the war or how my grandma mistakenly thinks they’ll leave soon. I must not correct them. Even if I did, they wouldn’t trust me. They never do!
We buy some groceries, although not as much as we wanted. Many other people had the same idea. We take everything back home, have breakfast and soon return to the centre. Father can’t help it. He needs to be where the action is and Stan is just like him, grandma and I just follow their lead.
Grandma seems more disappointed with each passing tank. They were our allies, they helped us against the Nazis. Why are they here now? Just as our country started getting a bit freer, kinder, better!
Father is getting angrier. He looks as if he’s preparing for a battle.
At some point, we join a little crowd gathered around one of the army trucks. They talk to the soldiers. They seem as confused as we are. As it appears, they’ve been told a bunch of lies. Apparently, they’ve come to help us. We can’t seem to be able to explain that we did not need this kind of ‘help’.
‘It doesn’t matter why they’ve come. They are here,’ says Stan.
‘For now,’ says grandma.
‘To stay,’ I claim and immediately slapping my mouth shut.
‘Shut it, Nina, I said, shut it!’ father thunders.
A startled soldier turns in his direction and inadvertently points a gun at him. I jump in front of the gun with my arms up and explain in my poor Russian that everything is fine. We retreat cautiously, the soldier shouts something about us going home.
I’ve messed up. I’ve messed up big time! They haven’t killed Stan and nothing major actually happened, yet I know this is exactly what I shouldn’t have done. Why am I not able to keep my big gob shut?!
Father is furious with me, but I can assure him, I’m angrier with myself. I’ve lost my second chance to save my brother. If I spoil it with my third and last, I will never be able to live with myself.
I am not sure how many hours we’ve already spent in the chaos outside. I have suggested several times that at least Stan and I go back home but to no avail.
People around us are confused, scared, angry but also somewhat paradoxically kind. Some of them take food and water to the tanks and cars parked in our streets. The soldiers remain cramped inside. I pity them. It’s not their fault. Many of the soldiers are younger than Stan.
The city isn’t large, we walk through the same streets five or six time at least. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it so full of people. Once again, we find ourselves right in front of the university building. I understand why so many of my pictures showed this place. This is where the only bridge in the city starts. Or ends. Depends on your perspective.
Each time we’ve been here, I tried to hurry our family away from this place. Now it’s past noon. I dread staying here and yet something inside me tells me it’s the right place to be. Is it a premonition or a morbid curiosity to see whether my visions have been correct? I am no longer sure.
The tension is almost palpable.
‘I think… we shouldn’t be here,’ grandma hesitates for the first time.
Then does something I would never expect her to do. She looks at me, tilts her head and then asks: ‘Nina, have you had any visions about this?’
I am so startled I can’t even open my mouth. Father stares at her in disbelief. My brother’s eyebrows are raised.
I manage to nod.
‘What have you seen?’ she asks, and I hear she means it. She’s not mocking me, she’s not teasing, she’s not inquiring only store it up and shout at me later.
Why? Does she feel the upcoming tragedy like I do? Has she seen something too? Have I inherited it from her, and the motor bike accident only triggered it?
I pull the sketchbook out of my bag and find the correct page. The one with the girl who looks so surprised to be shot.
I barely manage to hand it to grandma when we hear the shots. I throw myself onto my brother’s wheelchair from the left, my father does the same from the right. Even if my dad did not believe me, somehow, he also decided to protect Stan. Or maybe he did believe me and just didn’t want to admit it?
They seem to be shooting in the air, trying to scare us. Angered by cobble stones thrown at them by the crowd. It doesn’t look like they’ve actually tried to hit anyone. But before the deafening sound of shots dies out, we see some of the bullets have found soft human targets to get buried into.
One looks like a soldier. The other is dressed like a labourer. The third has been hit in his back.
Fourth is a young girl, she could the same age as me. She seems surprised as she collapses to the ground, covered in her blood.
People start screaming and running away. Others just stand there rooted to the spot with their mouths wide open. They have not expected our allies to start shooting civilians. They have not wanted to provoke them. They’ve only wanted them to leave.
The word triggers a short but powerful vision. I recognise my aunt, the Tower Bridge and Big Ben. I see us cramped in our small Skoda car for a few days. I see us running and never coming back. I see us alive.
‘We have to leave. Now!’ I blurt out.
‘Yes, I agree, it’s not safe here,’ father says.
‘No, you don’t understand. We have to leave the country. Now. While we can! Let’s leave!’
I can’t say if my need for urgency is caused by hysteria, my overdramatic nature, or by my gift of vision but the impulse is strong. I want to act right now!
‘Hush! Lower your voice!’
I do as I’m told, but I am insistent: ‘We MUST leave Czechoslovakia. If we don’t, they’ll destroy us. We don’t have other living relatives here to worry about. We’re outcasts. Mum is from England, you have been forced to leave the army, I’m an artist and a seer, even if you hate the thought of it. Grandma and Stan are the easy targets; the way for them to get to us. Trust me, dad! Please! Even if you should never ever trust me again in my life, TRUST ME now. Trust me about this. I KNOW this. We have to leave Bratislava!’
I’ve learnt my lesson and I manage to stop talking once I’ve said all there was to say. Silence is golden, as The Tremeloes sing.
I am not sure what my father thinks right now. He seems confused and scared. I look at Stan. He’s not smiling.
Then I turn at grandma. She’s holding my sketchbook in her shaking hands; her lip is trembling. When she finally looks up, her eyes are glistening with tears.
‘Look at this, Ivan, look at all of this,’ she pushes the sketchbook right in front of his nose.
He takes a peek, then his eyes widen and he snaps the sketchbook out of her feeble fingers. He starts flipping through it.
As he finishes, he looks around. He pales and stumbles. He grabs the handles of my brother’s wheelchair to steady himself.
‘How… when… how…’
‘They are wrong,’ he says. It sounds like a poor attempt not to admit his daughter might actually see the future as she’s claimed.
‘Most of the times, they’re correct. I never had so many visions as tonight. I think I am starting to understand it. I saw war and then I didn’t. I think somebody somewhere made a decision not to intervene. That’s when the war stopped being a possibility. That’s why my vision changed. That’s why there were the three instances you keep mentioning when I was wrong Future is not set in stone.’
‘What is this?’ he points to the dreadful pictures of me without mouth or with men with guns on their belts.
‘I believe this is what they are bringing,’ I look around pointing at no one in particular. Scared people are running around us, we remain hidden from sight having found shelter in a nearby park. ‘The communist party, they’ll want everyone to be alike, to agree with their politics, to be… compliant and… normal.’
The word triggers another vision in which the troops remain in the country for many, many years to come. Neighbours fear each other. Anyone can be an informer. People utter their true opinions only behind the closed door.
I am nauseous. I’m not built for that kind of life. I know many will be fine with it, others will even thrive, most people will simply go on about their lives. But our family? Our family is doomed.
‘We’re doomed if we stay here,’ I state, for me it is a fact.
Father watches me for a while. Then he looks at all the pictures again. He looks around.
‘You are right,’ he says after what seems like an eternity.
I first stare at him in disbelief. Then I feel such a relief I think I’m going to whoop! Does he trust what I tell him?
‘You heard me. Let’s go home. We need to pack and find a way to leave safely. It will not be today when everyone is on edge, but soon.’
‘Will mum agree?’ Stan asks.
‘We wanted to leave before. We stayed because we felt we had some hope with Dubcek and the changes he brought but that is gone. There’s nothing for us here.’
‘Neither for me,’ grandma says.
‘So… so you trust me? You believe me when I say I see the future?!’
Is this really happening?! That is amazing!
Father shatters my dream with a short and clear ‘no’.
‘I don’t. But I believe you are very perceptive. I think you can judge the situation so clearly that it feels to you as seeing the future. It would be foolish of me to ignore your judgement, especially one that I share with you. But no, Nina, I don’t believe that you have visions of the future. Let’s go home and pack.’
With that he returns the sketchpad to me, turns on his heel and leads the way home, marching like a soldier.
I stare in disbelief.
Me perceptive and judging situation clearly? What?! Does he have another daughter I don’t know about?
‘But what about…’ I point at the picture of the young woman who has been shot just like I’ve drawn. She even looks alike! Is he blind?!
Grandma shushes me. ‘Ivan needs rational explanation for everything, so he made one up. It doesn’t matter what he believes. I believe you.’
‘Me too, sis.’
‘But with a gift such as yours, Nina, you’ll need to learn quickly, that you don’t always need people to trust your words. It is enough if they trust your heart and do what you tell them to do. Like my son does now. Let’s go.’
What? Trusts my heart? What does it even mean? But… I guess… It’s better than nothing. Right?
I wonder, will John Lennon trust my heart and avoid New York in twelve years? Now that the future I see can be changed. If yes, then I think I can live with people never trusting a single word I say.
‘Hey, Nina, tell me my fortune!’ my brother teases me as we go home.
Names of the characters and their personal story is fictional, but it is based on stories of people who lived in Bratislava in 1968.
On the night of the 21st of August 1968, the Warsaw Pact (Soviet Union, Poland, Bulgaria, Hungary) troops invaded Czechoslovakia that had been changing and opening to the West. The soldiers were told they were there to help, some never learned the truth. By the end of 1968, 108 people were killed in Czechoslovakia, 3 of them died in front of the university building in Bratislava, Slovakia. Other nations decided not to intervene. About 80,000 people fled Czechoslovakia in the upcoming few years. Those who stayed lived through times of extreme police control and prevailing fear which ended with The Fall of the Wall in Berlin and the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia in 1989. The last soldier of the Warsaw Pact left Czechoslovakia in 1991.
Title photography: Laco Bielik