National holiday of 17th November

Demonstranion on Narodni Trida the banner says - stop violence - 17th of November is the day of National holiday in the Czech Republic. Do you know why?

The day is officially celebrated as „The Struggle for Freedom and Democracy Day“ but it is also known as „The Day of students“. It is so because that day is in the Czech history connected with two very important students manifestations, during which the youth became the conscience of the nation.

The first Manifestation took part in Prague, in 1939, during the World War II, when the funeral of Jan Opletal turned into manifestation against Nazi occupation. Jan Opletal was a Charles University student, who took part in march celebrating the annual of the Czechoslovak Republic Independence on 28th of October, the march was suppressed by Nazi forces, Opletal was seriously injured and he died on 11th of November. 15th of November was the day of his funeral, which was attended by thousands of students and became the huge anti-Nazi demonstration. As a result, all the Czech universities and colleges were closed, over 1000 students were sent to concentration camps and 9 students were executed on 17th November. To commemorate these events, the 17th of November was marked as The International Student’s Day by the International Students Council in London in 1941.

Fifty years later, in 1989, when the communist rule over central-eastern Europe was already breaking down, the students manifestation commemorating the memory of Jan Opletal started so called Velvet Revolution, which led to Czechoslovakia freed of the deliberating communist regime. This peaceful demonstration, attended by thousands of people, was suppressed by police riots in order to not to let the students go to Wenceslas Square, the most symbolic place for the Czech nation in the modern history. A lot of people were injured; students went into strike and soon were joined by artists and then by other people who also wished the end of the communist rule in Czechoslovakia. And it was successful. On 10th of December the communist president Gustav Husak appointed largely non-communist government and resigned. On 29th of November, Vaclav Havel was elected the president of democratic Czechoslovakia. And finally, in June 1990, the first democratic election since 1946 was held in the country.

So the 17th of November is officially remembered as the Student’s day already since 1941, but only in 2000 this day was as „the Struggle for Freedom and Democracy Day“ made an official national holiday.

Nov 7, 13:39 (Filed under: Chapters from history )

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  1. Governments are to serve the people, I’m glad to see
    that people will stand up for their rights.

    David L. Kotaska    Nov 17, 22:56    #