In the centennial anniversary of the establishment of the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren, the Czech state commemorates 100 years since the end of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy and the foundation of the independent republic. Czech Protestants have been associated with the modern history of the country from the very beginning. Evennow, they are known as prominent statesmen, thinkers, human rights defenders, or opponents of communist totalitarianism.
For three autumn evenings, these figures were remembered by the visitors to the Václav Havel Library in the centre of Prague. Three film evenings, including a discussion with guests, took place here.
The first Czechoslovak President Tomas Garrigue Masaryk was featured in September with a documentary film and unique 100-year-old clips from the National Film Archive. In the light of his protestant faith, his relationship with the family, and his university work, he was then discussed in a session led by the Deputy Director of the National Museum, Michal Stehlík.
During the October meeting, visitors could see authentic shots from the fabricated political process concerning Milada Horáková. In 1950, representatives of the Communist regime accused her of high treason and in the manipulated trial in front of the lens of propaganda cameras sentenced her to death. The courageous protestant Milada Horáková has become a symbol of resistance to the totalitarian rule of the Communist Party, as well as an example of incredible personal bravery and devotion to truth. Dana Musil, a historian, narrated her story at the talk.
In November, the participants recalled the legacy of a young philosophy student, Jan Palach, who burned himself to death in January 1969 to protest against the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia. His funeral became a national demonstration, and 20 years later, the so-called Palach Week launched a wave of demonstrations culminating in the famous Velvet Revolution. Palach has been remembered in a new film, filmed in his home church. The current Synodal Senior, Daniel Ženatý, portrayed the then Palach’s minister, Jakub S. Trojan. The discussion was attended by the the film’s lead actor, Viktor Zavadil, and by the historian Jakub Jareš.
The three film-discussion evenings were received with great interest; the hall was always filled to capacity, and the number of participants in all three evenings was close to four hundred.