The defining images of the Russian invasion of Prague in 1968 were smuggled out of Czechoslovakia and published anonymously, to protect the photographer and his relatives. Ironic, with the benefit of hindsight, since a glance at the pictures is enough to identify the perpetrator: Josef Koudelka, one of the least anonymous, most recognisable photographers in the medium’s history. These pictures – of the citizens of Prague, swarming the streets as tanks rumble towards them – fixed the events of August 1968 in the mind as firmly as the one of the student in front of a tank in Tiananmen Square would do two decades later. The difference is that, where the Tiananmen picture was detached, taken from a distance, Koudelka’s were snatched by someone caught up in the swirl and danger of events, as much a participant as his subjects.
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