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History of Geology

Episodes 2023; 46(4): 671-677

Published online December 1, 2023


Copyright © International Union of Geological Sciences.

The 23rd International Geological Congress (Prague, 1968) and the five Warsaw Pact members occupation of Czechoslovakia

Zdeňka Petáková

Czech Geological Survey, Klárov 131/3, 118 21 Prague 1, Czech Republic

Correspondence to:E-mail: zdenka.petakova@geology.cz

Received: January 29, 2022; Revised: October 25, 2022; Accepted: October 25, 2022

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0) which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The 23rd International Geological Congress (IGC) hosted in 1968 in Prague, the largest congress of the IGC since the first held in 1878 in Paris (Ellenberger, 1978), was the only one to be cancelled due to a military occupation. The original planned length of the IGC was for a five-week period. The ten days of scientific symposiums were planned to be held from 19thAugust until 28th August. The excursions were planned to be held from 8th August until 7th September. The 23rd IGC, the largest ever planned meeting of geologists in Czechoslovakia, was unfortunately interrupted by the beginning of the Warsaw Pact invasion (on 21st August 1968) and cancelled by the organisers on 23rd August. This well-prepared congress by the earth scientists and institutions of Czechoslovakia for the international geological community and the International Union of Geoscientists (IUGS) unfortunately only lasted for a total of five days – a period that for many geologists present would never be forgotten as this historical event unfolded and the IGC organizing committee and council dealt with the consequences.