On August 21, 1968, tanks rolled into Czechoslovakia from Warsaw Pact allies crushing the liberal reform known as Prague Spring. A Prayer for Martha (Modlitba pro Martu) became the anthem of occupied Czechoslovakia. Originally, the song written by Petr Rada was created for the popular TV series called A Song for Rudolf III. The ballad took on new meaning as tanks rolled into the country. Marta recorded the poetically poignant song singing, “Peace with this country should forever stay. Let anger, envy, grudge, fear and strife cease.” The communists later banned the song from the airwaves. With that song, Marta became the face for the opposition to the Soviet occupation. While cameras rolled, she also showed her support for Dubček by kissing him on the cheek and wanting to give him her lucky momento, which she lost along the way to the visit – perhaps a foreshadowing of the events to follow. “Not just me, everybody thought they (the Soviets) would be gone in two years at the latest. And they were here 10 times that long,” said Marta Kubišová in an interview with Czech Radio.
Photo courtesy of the Václav Havel Library