The Prague Spring (Czech: Pražské jaro, Slovak: Pražská jar) was a period of political liberalization in Czechoslovakia during the era of its domination by the Soviet Union after World War II. It began on January 5, 1968, when reformist Slovak Alexander Dubček came to power, and continued until August 21, when the Soviet Union and members of its Warsaw Pact allies invaded the country to halt the reforms.
The Prague Spring reforms were an attempt by Dubček to grant additional rights to the citizens in an act of partial decentralization of the economy and democratization. Among the freedoms granted were a loosening of restrictions on the media, speech and travel. Dubček also federalized the country into two separate republics; this was the only change that survived the end of the Prague Spring.
The reforms were not received well by the Soviets who, after failed negotiations, sent thousands of Warsaw Pact troops and tanks to occupy the country. A large wave of emigration swept the nation. While there were many non-violent protests in the country, including the protest-suicide of a student, there was no military resistance. Czechoslovakia remained occupied until 1990.
This lovely instrumental - one of the last periods Patrick Wright would work with the band on strings for quite some time - captures perfectly the feeling of temporary reprieve and hope of a more permanent one from Soviet communists during the months between January and August 1968. The end of the song builds a distorted tension, and one can almost feel the tanks coming around the bend...