The Cost of Freedom. 50th anniversary of the death of Jan Palach

7. Jan_PalachOn the 16th of January 1969, to protest against the widespread apathy that took hold of Czechoslovak citizens following the country’s occupation by the armies of the Warsaw Pact, the young student Jan Palach set himself on fire at a public place in the centre of Prague, in front of the National Museum.

His act set in motion a wave a solidarity and civic activity, the funeral was attended by hundreds of thousands of people. In the ensuing two decades of the communist dictatorship, the anniversary of Palach’s death became the symbol of fighting for freedom and democracy. The protests culminated half a year before the fall of the communist regime, in January 1989, when thousands of people spent seven days demonstrating in Wenceslas Square.

Today, Jan Palach’s legacy is acknowledged by all democratic organisations and individuals. We are proud that Palach’s name was linked not only with the Charles University, but also with our church, the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren.

Ondřej Lukáš