August 21, 1968 is the day that for those who experienced it reminds in memory to the very last details – where they were, what they did, how it all worked out… like 9/11 … I was just 11, but it was clear to me, that something extraordinary dramatic with far-reaching consequences happened. My grandfather, who survived two wars and overall tended to see the world very pessimistically, has made that feeling even stronger. After coming back from holiday to Bratislava I saw the tanks, soldiers, and protesting people for my own eyes. Imprinting experience, turning point of early political socialization.
I grew up in the years to come, during the so-called ´normalization´. My generation was too young to breathe the freedom of the 1960s, but fortunately not too old to be able to take full advantage of opportunities brought by November 1989. My lesson learnt from the historical developments is that the one-party dictatorship cannot be reformed or ´improved´. It must be changed and replaced by democracy. I am surprised that many people feel nostalgia for socialism and in countries that gained freedom just three decades ago, people are flirting with the idea of powerful authoritarian rulers. Be careful – they like to send tanks when things get out of their control.
Olga Gyarfasova, sociologist and university teacher, Bratislava