Bernie Taft and 1968: Tanks in Prague, Turmoil in Australian Universities

 

Friday 24 August 2018
Forum Theatre, Arts West, University of Melbourne

In August 1968, the Soviet Union sent troops into Czechoslovakia to end the liberalising regime of Alexander Dubcek; the incident and its aftermath became known as the Prague Spring. The events in the Soviet bloc were part of an international wave of uprisings and movements throughout 1968 that would have a profound impact on the Australian Left. The Communist Party of Australia was one of the few in the international movement to publicly condemn the Soviet action. CPA leader Bernie Taft knew Dubcek personally and was instrumental in convincing the Party to take such a stand.

On the 50thanniversary of the Prague Spring, the University of Melbourne Archives is pleased to announce the opening of the Bernie Taft collection. The collection contains over 100 boxes ranging from the 1950s-1990s, comprising correspondence, personal notes, movement documents and much more. It will be one of the most significant collections on the history of the Australian Left to become available for research in recent years.

To mark these events, the University of Melbourne Archives and the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies will be hosting a free public symposium looking at the legacy of 1968, Bernie Taft and other political collections held in the Archives.

The symposium coincides with the Melbourne launch of the Routledge Studies in Radical History and Politics edition, The Far Left in Australia Since 1945 edited by Jon Piccini, Evan Smith, and Matthew Worley. The launch will be held at the Ian Potter Museum of Art, which will be showing the State of the Union exhibition. 

This symposium is a free public event but registrations are essential: https://events.unimelb.edu.au/events/10835-bernie-taft-and-1968-tanks-in-prague-turmoil-in-australian

1 Bernie Taft addressing a crowd at the Yarra Bank, c1960s. Communist Party of Australia collection, University of Melbourne Archives, 1991.0152.00099
1 Bernie Taft addressing a crowd at the Yarra Bank, c1960s. Communist Party of Australia collection, University of Melbourne Archives, 1991.0152.00099

 

Draft Program

9.30-11.30 Bernie Taft

Professor Stuart Macintyre

Professor Phillip Deery

Dr Jon Piccini: Bernie Taft in the Global 68

 

12-1 The Events of 1968

Professor Mark Edele: The Soviet repression of the Prague Spring

Max Ogden: The CPA and the events of 1968

 

2-3 Australian Left in 1968

Ken Mansell: The New Left

Dr Kate Murphy: The counterculture

 

3.30-5 The University of Melbourne Archives

Professor Andrew Reeves: Collecting labour records

Katie Wood: The CPA records and other collections

Jane Beattie: Bernie Taft’s papers

 

6-8 Launch of The Far Left in Australia since 1945

Ian Potter Museum of Art, University of Melbourne

 

Contact:

Katie Wood, University of Melbourne Archives

(03) 8344 6848 / kathrynw@unimelb.edu.au

 

The launch of The Far Left in Australia since 1945 is sponsored by the Melbourne Branch, Australian Society for the Study of Labour History.

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