Jan Palach, his memrial and funeral You maysee candles, flowers and small rallies right in Prague on 16th January was the 48th anniversary of the death of a young student – Jan Palach committed suicide by self-immolation in the upper part of the Wenceslas Square. Three days later he passed away in the hospital. Jan Palach was a student of faculty of Philosophy at Charles University, who strongly disagreed with the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia (1968 – 1989) and with the passivity of the population during this unfair situation and their loss of freedom. The Prague Spring was the period of political liberalization of the communist totalitarian regime. It lasted from January – August 1968. This so called “Communism with human face” approach was not very well received in Moscow, and it resulted in an invasion by Warsaw Pact armies (East Germany, Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria, Soviet Union) of Czechoslovakia. The Soviet troops then stayed in the country for the next 20 years, until the Velvet Revolution of 1989. It is said that his main reasons were not so much to protest for the people but rather against the demoralization of the population and the population giving in. His funeral turned into mass protest against the occupation. One month later, another student, Jan Zajíc, and three months later, Evžen Plocek in the city of Jihlava, followed Jan Palach fate.

Memorial of Jan Palach

People remember his legacy by giving flowers and candles to places connected to his life story. One of them is his memorial plaque on Wenceslas Square, just beneath the statue of St. Wenceslas. A cross has also been placed on the sidewalk in front of the National Museum at Wenceslas Square. And lastly, of course, a memorial plaque on the Philosophical Faculty by Rudolfinum. A mass was also held in the St. Nicholas Church at Old Town Square. There will be a rally with candles, starting at the grave of Jan Palach at Olšanská Graveyard and continuing to Wenceslas Square. Some students are also holding a hunger strike same as some students in 1969 did after Jan Palach’s death. There will also be couple public viewing of movie "Hořící keř" (Burning Bush) - about Jan Palach's life made in 2013. This important day to remember is not a national holiday in the Czech Republic, although there has been discussion to make it one.

Pictures in the title collage are courtesy of MyJsmeToNevzdali, MSFOTO at Panoramio, Kryl.Kat and JanPalach.cz.