“He wanted to wake up our citizens”: Jan Palach remembered

Photo: Anna Fodor, Radio Prague International

On 16 January 1969, Czech student Jan Palach set himself on fire on Prague’s Wenceslas Square in protest against apathy in the wake of the Soviet occupation of his country. He died three days later. Fifty-four years on, his actions are still relevant, says speaker of the Chamber of Deputies and leader of the TOP 09 party, Markéta Pekarová Adamová.

The top of Prague’s Wenceslas Square, just below the National Museum, was the venue for a memorial event to Jan Palach on Monday morning. It was there, exactly 54 years ago, that the 20-year-old Palach put down his coat and took out a bottle with the inscription “Éter” (Ether) from his briefcase. He opened it with a knife and, after briefly putting it close to his face, doused himself in the flammable liquid and set himself on fire.

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Author: Anna Fodor