Acquisition of significant images by photographer Okky Offerhaus on events of August 1968



On 8 November 2011, the National Archives enriched their collections and fonds with a major acquisition in the form of negatives depicting events taking place in August 1968, whose author is Mrs. Okky Offerhaus, a photographer living in Küb in Lower Austria, a picturesque location on the famous mountain Semmering railway.


Okky Offerhaus was born in the Netherlands, but after the war grew up in Brazil where she became one of the first models in the country. Later she worked with documentary film teams as an assistant, advisor, and translator. Thanks to this work she met leading photographers of Magnum Photos René Burri and through him Elliott Erwitt. As an assistant of the latter she had taken a number of business trips around the world in the first half of the 1960s, among other things, also to Czechoslovakia. Here they both were working on a book on Eastern Europe issued by Life magazine. Later Okky Offerhaus became independent and worked for several magazines and newspapers in Brazil and Europe.


In August 1968, Okky Offerhaus took a private trip to Czechoslovakia where she got surprised by invasion of Warsaw Pact armies. On four films she captured events taking place on Wenceslas Square and its surroundings, the passage of military vehicles through Prague, Czechoslovak citizens interviewing members of the occupation armies, chaos in the streets, and even shop windows. Valuable images will expand the current collection in the National Archives, titled The Year 1968.


Mrs. Offerhaus made a very significant step when sold the National Archives not only contact sheets and nearly seventy authorized enlargements of her originals but also the original negatives of one hundred forty-five images, a set of Czech, English, German and Russian leaflets obtained from Czechoslovak citizens on the 20 and 21 August 1968, a copy of her diary notes from this period, and a German newspaper that published some of Mrs. Offerhaus’ images immediately after her departure from Czechoslovakia. At present, digitization of acquired documents is taking place which will be followed by their archival processing in cooperation with the Military History Institute.



Mgr. Pavel Baudisch and Okky Offerhaus in Küb

Mgr. Pavel Baudisch and Okky Offerhaus in Kübu

 

Author photo: Okky Offerhaus