If you were visiting Prague on the 17th November you might have been a little surprise to see gatherings of hundredths of Czechs in the city center, distracted tram service, and concert stages and coffee stands on the roads. On the 9th November the Germans and the whole world was celebrating the 25 years of the fall of the Berlin wall. In the former Czechoslovakia it took us just a little longer to go with the flow and to also put the end to the terrible totalitarian regime. It is hard to imagine it now, but back then without twitter, facebook and free press the former regime was doing quite well to keep people in dark from the events happening in Poland, Germany and Baltic states. All changed when a peaceful student’s demonstration was blocked and brutally beaten by the police at Národní třída. Since then, every day more and more people gathered in Prague, Bratislava and other large cities. The breakthrough of the protests were the workers unions joining the protests. Ten days after the brutal beating, the general strike was held in the whole country and the next day, on 28th of November the Communist party capitulate. It took ten days, no fatalities and larger damages on the properties, therefore the name ‘’Velvet’’ revolution. The most important figure of the time, the founder of Civic Forum, dissident and later first non-communist Czechoslovakia president, was Václav Havel.
For many Czechs, Havel is the icon not only of the revolution, but also of peace, human rights and democratic society. Many today are not satisfy with the current political and social situation and fear that we are turning away from the sincere legacy of Václav Havel. Therefore, you could also see demonstrations against a certain current political figures in the city center on this day. If you will be around next year around this holiday, stop by the Velvet Revolution memorial at Národní třída, hidden under the arches of baroque palace half way between the National Theater and Wenceslas Square. Or at Albertov where you can find a plaque with the words “When – if not now? Who – if not us?” In the end the events of 1989 changed not only the lives in Central and Eastern Europe, but of everyone.
Have you been in Prague during this celebration? What did you think?
Would you like to learn more about the current political situation? Just e-mail us:)
Foto above curtesy of magazine Tyden
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