Publication date: 
2019/01/17
A great public and academic interest was raised by the memorial act at the Jan Palach Memorial Plaque on the building of the Charles University's Faculty of Philosophy at Jan Palach Square on 16 January 2019. This was organized by the Student Council of the Faculty of Philosophy of the Charles University on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of burning of student Jan Palach on Wenceslas Square in protest against the increasing passivity of the society in regard to the soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia in January 1969.

The CTU rector doc. Vojtěch Petráček gave a speech and highlighted Palach's deeds:

It's January 16, 2019, a cold day, just like it was fifty years ago. It was Thursday, January 16, 1969, and a terrible flame flared up on Wenceslas Square.

The total sacrifice of a young man - Jan Palach - had hit deep the whole country, tested by the occupation, the normalization process, and the loss of freedom, and provoked it to act.

Jan Palach was the first of a number of those who, at the time, full of harsh feelings of betrayal and vanity, were committed to an absolute sacrifice and paid with their lives. They were Josef Hlavatý, Jan Zajíc, Evžen Plocek, Michal Lefčík, an Sándor Bauer abroad.

The cruel and difficult times brought a number of young people to such a radical form of protest and defiance as self-immolation. It was a cruel period for the whole country and all of us who lived in it. For many of us, the comments of these moments are difficult for half a century. I was a boy at the time, but I remember the feelings of those days. My dad was Professor of the Faculty of Philosophy, so we were very close to the events and their consequences. At the time of Palach's self-immolation, son of one of my father's friends and my later classmate was not allowed to study for a mere participation in the students' strike committee ! The sense of shock and weight of those moments and the resentment and dedication can still be recalled at university today.

If I look back over those fifty years, it gives one shivers on how long it took for something to change after the occupation ...

Let it be remembered that if we were to get into a similar marasm today ... it could take very, very long to overcome it.

We might have to wait and endure his weight for a long time ...

The memory of those who have committed themselves in the difficult times to provoke with their radical act must be passed on along with the remembrance of the time and of what has led to it.

Palach's absolute sacrifice is a milestone that should forever be reminded of what is at stake with the loss of freedom.

We must watch and take care there will be no longer a time full of despair and enslavement and unfreedom, moments that could lead to further human torches. Let's do everything for that people never stand alone against state power!  

Other speakers were: prof. Tomáš Zima, Rector of the Charles University, prof. Hana Machková, rector of University of Economics, MgA. Hana Třeštíková, Councilor of the Prague Town Hall,  doc. Michal Pullman, Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy at Charles University, Michal Zima, President of the Student Chamber of the Council of Universities and Martin Jelínek, Vice-Chairman of the Student Council of the Faculty of Arts, Charles University.

Rector of the Czech Technical University doc. Vojtěch Petráček together with the president of the CTU Student Union Jozef Šebák laid a wreath on the memorial plaque of Jan Palach and lit candles.

The memorial act on Palach Square concluded with a one minute silence.

 

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