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Other countries

Page history last edited by Tia Caswell 6 years, 1 month ago



We would be wrong to assume that France was the only country affected by a radical transformation in 1968. Evidently, as previously mentioned the 'sixties' was a time period of international change, characterised by the rise of individualism. As a consequence, many countries were shaken by student demonstrations and public uproar.






Due to worldwide events such as the war in Vietnam, the cold war, the implementation of the Berlin wall and the fact that Germany was faced with the fear that the economic miracle, which had hit Germany shortly after World War Two, would soon be coming to an end, young people became highly dissatisfied. As a result, the revolutionary terrorist group: the RAF (Rote Armee Fraktion) (Red Army Fraction) soon gained popularity and media coverage throughout Europe. The RAF was a radical, leftist, political group which emerged in West Germany, influenced by Rudi Dutschke. 



The RAF's most celebrated members include:

  • Andreas Baader (6th May 1943 - 18th October 1977)
  • Gudrun Ensslin  (15th August 1940 - 18th October 1977)
  • Ulrike Meinhof (7th October 1934 - 9th May 1976)
  • Holge Meins (26th October 1941 - 9th November 1974)
  • Petra Schelm (August 1950 - 15th July 1971)
  • Astrid Proll (born 29th May 1947)
  • Ingrid Schubert (November 1944 - November 1977)
  • Thomas Weissbecker (February 1944 - 2nd March 1972)
  • Jan-Carl Raspe (24th July 1944 - 18th October 1977)


  RAF Logo - Photo is in the public domain


The Prague Spring: Czechoslovakia 



The Prague spring refers to the few months of 1968 where it looked like peace and democracy would be the future for Czechoslovakia, On January 5, 1968, Alexander Dubček became First Secretary of the Czechoslovak Communist Party. In the first few months, he had granted freedom of the press and was condoning more liberal ways of thinking and living. In April 1968, he proposed a reform program that included a revised constitution to guarantee civil rights and liberties for all his people, plans for the democratisation of the government and autonomy for Slovakia. Dubček claimed that he was offering “socialism with a human face.” By June many Czechs were calling for more rapid progress toward real democracy. Although Dubček insisted that he could control the country’s transformation,



Unfortunately, the proposed reforms had captured the attention of the Soviet Union and other Warsaw Pact countries (composed of the Soviet Union and Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Poland, and Romania) who viewed the developments within Czechoslovakia as tantamount to counterrevolutionary. Finally, on the evening of August 20, Soviet armed forces invaded the country and quickly occupied it, putting an end to Dubček plans for reform.3



Civil rights movement



The civil rights movement which began in 1954 with the case in the supreme court of Brown vs the board of education to end segregation in schools and included many memorable moments throughout history such as the 1955, Montgomery bus boycott; started by Rosa Parks. The 1963 march on Washington where Martin Luther King made his “I have a dream” Speech. A major turning point was the 1964 civil rights act: this legislation made it illegal to discriminate against blacks or other minorities in the workplace/when hiring employees, in public accommodations, within the education system or on any form of transportation.  



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Unfortunately,  in Memphis, Tennessee on the 4th of April 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. In the days that followed, riots broke out in more than 110 cities across the US. The death of Martin Luther King Jr is said to have led to the end of the civil rights moment. Which was “officially” ended in later that year with the Fair Housing Act, this prohibited discrimination in the sale, rental or financing of housing based on race, religion, sex and national origin. The Act was passed by the House of Representatives and signed into law by President Johnson this considered the last great legislative achievement of the civil rights era.2 However, it is widely contested that this movement is still on going, as people of different race’s, religion’s, sex and national origins' are still treat unequally today. 



The Vietnam War


In 1968 the Tet Offensive began, this was a series of North Vietnamese attacks on more than 100 cities and outposts in South Vietnam. The attacks during the first few months of 1968  were deadly and extremely violent, news coverage of the events shocked the American public and significantly diminished support for the war. The attacks marked a turning point in the Vietnam War and the beginning of the slow, painful American withdrawal from the region. 


As the anti-war sentiment mounted in the united states, some of President Lyndon Johnson’s advisers argued for scaling back U.S. involvement in the war. On March 31, 1968, President Johnson declared that he was limiting the bombing of North Vietnam and calling for negotiations to end the war. Five years later direct U.S. military involvement finally ended on 15  August 1973. 1



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As previously explored by the other groups, May 68 was a movement that erupted in France which threatened not only the survival of De Gaulle's government but also the capitalism that the system represented. The movement was supposedly sparked by the radical action of the youth and students of France, and at the peak of the movement an estimated 10 million workers were on strike and 600,000 students occupied their schools and universities. At the time, one in five French people were protesting. On a more global scale, The Vietnam War played a huge role in the radicalisation of young people, including the young students of France. It can be said that the war, as well as other worldwide events, fuelled the students throughout a decade of war prior to the revolt. This was as a result of the capitalist systems around the world that were supposedly supporting freedom, yet the US was carrying out a war that killed at least 3 million Vietnamese people. It was the actions of the students and workers, against the progression of a worldwide youth radicalisation that triggered the events of May 68, which took France to the brink of a revolution. This was sparked by what seemed to be small concerns at the beginning but rapidly it became a battle against discontent.4 





1History.com Staff, 2009, Tet Offensive https://www.history.com/topics/vietnam-war/tet-offensive [Accessed 30/04/18]  

2crdl.usg.edu, Civil rights digital libraryhttp://crdl.usg.edu/events/?Welcome  [Accessed 30/04/18] 

3The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica, https://www.britannica.com/event/Prague-Spring [Accessed 30/04/18]  

4Meerding, Duncan, The May-June 1968 revolt in France and its influence today, http://links.org.au/node/491, [Accessed 16/04/18]

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