Let’s walk along the route of the student manifestation which triggered the events of the Velvet Revolution exactly 29 years ago! Along the way we will learn what and where happened on that fateful day.
MEETING POINT & TIME: I.P.Pavlova at 16:00
(see the map below)
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Why do we celebrate 17th November?
As you know, the 17th of November is a public holiday in the Czech Republic, called “The struggle for Freedom and Democracy Day”.
It is also celebrated as the International Students’ Day since 1941, commemorating the Nazi repressions against Czech Students in 1939.
17th November 1989
In 1989, another generation of college and high school students, gathered on a rally, officially to honor the memory of the students murdered and imprisoned in 1939. Yet, everyone knew, that there was more going on. Estimated 15 000 students joined the event at Albertov in Prague 2. The crowd started to chant anti-government slogans and booed the speech of the pro-regime Union of Socialist Youth (SSM) representative.
The official program ended at Vyšehrad but some 5000 students carried on marching to the city center, in an attempt to voice their discontent on the country’s main public place – the Wenceslas Square. More people were joining the protest and special police units were called to manage the situation. In the end, the crowd was cornered and closed off on Národní třída. All the escape routes but one were sealed off and all the remaining demonstrators, young and old, men and women were brutally beaten up by the members of the special police unit armed with batons and heavy boots.
The Velvet Revolution
Shortly after it was over, news of a student being killed spread around. That was the last drop, finally arousing the passive majority. The students and actors of Prague theaters initiated a general strike and were joined in by almost everybody in the country. The television needed another week to throw off the shackles of censorship and start broadcasting the true events to everyone in the country. The regime started to crumble, totally imploding in less than 6 weeks.
You know my friends that I have a passion for history. This is a special case since this is a historic event I actually lived through. Yes, I was only 8 years, nevertheless, I remember that atmosphere of excitement, the continuous stream of live TV from huge rallies and then in December, Vaclav Havel being sworn the president.
The walk on Saturday
Let’s walk in the footsteps of the student manifestation which violent suppression became the last drop leading to the end of the communist rule in Czechoslovakia.
I want to convey a bit of this history to you and that’s why I came up with this event. Hope you will join me. Let’s make a big crowd, to make it feel authentic!
If you, or somebody you know, took part at the events of 17th November 1989, ask them to come along! It would be great to have an eye-witness with us!
Do I need to register for this walk?
It’s not mandatory, but if you want to go for a drink in Cafe Louvre after the walk, please click “add to cart” button and place an order (by 14th November). It will help me to know how many people to make a reservation for in the Cafe. Thank you for cooperation!
We will meet at 16:00 at I.P.Pavlova. In front of the Oberbank branch by the exit from the metro.
First, we’ll walk about 1 km to Albertov where the student procession started, in 1989 as well as in 1939. It’s quite possible that some event will be taking place there so we can join in.
From Albertov we’ll set off in the footsteps of the students to the street Na Slupi and then up to to the Slavín Cemetery on Vyšehrad where the students put flowers on the grave of Karel Hynek Mácha, the Czech 19th century poet.
From here we will go to Národní třída via Rašínovo nábřeží, following the unauthorized march of the students and general public in November 1989.
I’m going to book a couple of tables at Cafe Louvre for after the walk chat over a cup of tea or something stronger.
Altogether it will be some 5 km of easy walk. As we walk, I’ll share with you stories of how the day unfolded and what happened at the authentic locations.
Watch original footage from the 17th November 1989 student rally in Prague. The title is “Prague 17.11.1989 The Velvet Revolution 1989 is starting”