Czechia celebrates "Day of Fight for Freedom and Democracy" today
This public holiday is always celebrated on 17 November in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
The 20th century was a tumultuous time for both these countries. Indeed, until 1993 they were both part of the same country - Czechoslovakia.
During that time, they had to endure occupation by the Nazis during World War II and following that, the country was under communist rule until 1989.
During both regimes, it was students who lead protests and this day essentially celebrates the political role of students. 17 November is sometimes referred to as World Students Day.
The date of 17 November commemorates the 1939 Nazi storming of the University of Prague following demonstrations against the occupation of Czechoslovakia. It led to the execution of nine student leaders and over 1200 students were sent to concentration camps.
In 1989 a memorial march to mark the 50th anniversary of the student revolt was organized. In the following days, protests grew into non-violent strikes at first involving students and later all citizens of Czechoslovakia. This became known as the Velvet Revolution and marked the beginning to the end of the communist regime in the country.
Do you want to learn more? Practice your Czech by reading Den boje za svobodu a demokracii on Czech Wikipedia!
That evening 28 years ago, I was one of the students beaten by the police, and having seen so many people just standing on the sidewalks or watching us from behind their window curtains, I said to myself, this was the last thing I did for you, you cowardly bums who would rather complain over beer than grow a pair. I decided to leave the country, and not even the apparent victory of democracy was going to change that. Seeing Havel ascend to the Castle was certainly worth hanging around for a bit more.
Of course, given what lives in that Castle now, I do not regret leaving, even if such self-inflicted tarnishing of once potent symbols of the good in a nation is not limited to the "old country".
Not much else left than that old "prayer" for Marta:
Zloba, závist, zášt, strach a svár, ty ať pominou, ať už pominou.
This Google Doodle covers just users in Czechia. Anyways, thank you Google for celebrating with us :)