The Czech Mother Tongue class concluded their unit ‘The Restless Century’ by exploration of practice of totalitarian regimes to ban certain books on grounds of their authors’ political persuasion, social attitude or religion.
In the aftermath of the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, books of inconvenient writers, as well as older books, offering an alternative to the official, Marxist line, were removed from print and from public libraries. Censorship and bias affected history books and textbooks and students of two generations left schools with skewed version of history and current affairs. Some writers chose to publish abroad or leave the country. Forbidden books were then smuggled back to the country and the perpetrators were persecuted. A small number of books was copied illegally, via so called ‘samizdat’.
Censorship still exists in various parts of the world and it is important that we celebrate and defend the freedom to read, write and publish against any attempts to silence voices and ideas.