Prague Twin

Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Velvet Revolution Begins

Today marks 18 years since the official beginning of the Velvet Revolution. November 17th marks the day of intense protests in 1989 that led to the fall of communism in the Czech Republic.

The date became significant in 1939 when the Nazis suppressed a student protest, executing 9 organizers, imprisoning 1200 demonstrators, and shutting down the University system. In 1941, Great Brittan declared November 17th to be International Students Day. This is still the only Czech holiday with international significance.

So with communism falling all over eastern Europe, it was no surprise that the Czechs took to the streets in peaceful demonstration, filling Vaclávské Náměstí with about a half a million people shaking their keys, the keys to freedom.

It is an interesting story, and you can read about it in more detail here.

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  • It speaks of a spirit and a determination to be a sovereign nation. Of course,the road to the Velvet Revolution wasn't exactly bloodless as many suffered during and after WWII. And we must never forget Jan Palach. I'm not sure if what he did was of any import to the fall of communism, but I remember being there in 1973 and everyone still talked of him. I think he may have galvanized the nation and strengthened their resolve.

    By Anonymous rockync, at 5:16 PM  

  • Perhaps they should call it the Velvet completion of the Revolution. Protesters in Poland took the brunt of the pain in the eighties, but certainly the Czechs took their knocks after the Prague Spring.

    I would agree that Palach's action did something, and he remains a symbol of defiance to this day. When someone does something like that, it helps others put aside their petty fears.

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 5:36 PM  

  • Yep, I think when remembering the Czechs' bid for freedom we should also remember the Poles' pretty ballsy endeavor. And the Ukrainians. All in all, I think the slavic people just aren't going to go quietly into the night. You have to admire all of them in their ability to accomplish their goals in the least violent way possible. Takes a lot of thought, planning and discipline. They definitely have gotten more accomplished than those who choose barbarianism. (I'm thinking of Chechnya for one)

    By Anonymous rockync, at 5:59 PM  

  • Happy Anniversary. 1989 was a hell of a year -- the revolution in Prague, Khomeini dying, what's-his-name from Romania being executed and dragged through the streets. Of course there was Tiannemen (sp?) Square (which was on the same weekend as Khomeini's death), but still...

    By Anonymous Tom Harper, at 7:12 PM  

  • And don't forget the fall of the Berlin wall. You're right - one hell of a year.

    By Anonymous abi, at 7:47 PM  

  • PT, It is always good to revisit history and remember. We unfortunately are trying to forget the past and invent a new future here In the US. Hopefully, the sleeping giant will awaken before it is too late to stop the insanity. stay well.......

    By Blogger Tapline, at 10:05 PM  

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