The full title of this Czech public holiday is Day of Freedom and Democracy and International Student Day, and it commemorates two significant moments in the country’s history. What events are taking place for those who want to learn more about this history, enjoy some culture, or simply mark the day?
Struggle for Freedom and Democracy Day on November 17 commemorates not only the start of the Velvet Revolution in 1989, but also the 1939 Nazi storming of the university in Prague following student demonstrations against the occupation of Czechoslovakia, which led to the execution of nine student leaders and over 1200 students being sent to concentration camps.
In fact, the two events are closely interconnected – the peaceful march in 1989 that sparked the Velvet Revolution was initially intended to be simply a memorial march commemorating the 50th anniversary of the 1939 student revolt. It only turned into a series of mass protests, demonstrations and strikes which eventually toppled the regime after the authorities tried to suppress the march.
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Author:Anna Fodor, Sources:ČTK,ČT24