Czechs pay homage to student martyr Jan Palach

Viktor Orbán, Sebastian Kurz, Mateusz Morawiecki, Andrej Babiš, Peter Pellegrini, photo: ČTK/Michal Krumphanzl

Czechs have been marking the 51st anniversary of the self-immolation of Prague university student Jan Palach, who set himself alight in protest at apathy in the face of the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia. A memorial ceremony was held in Palach’s hometown of Všetaty, in Central Bohemia, where his childhood home recently became a museum in his honour, as well as in towns and cities around the country many of which have squares or streets named in his honour.

Viktor Orbán, Sebastian Kurz, Mateusz Morawiecki, Andrej Babiš, Peter Pellegrini, photo: ČTK/Michal Krumphanzl

Jan Palach, photo: Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 3.0 CZ
Czechs have been marking the 51st anniversary of the self-immolation of Prague university student Jan Palach, who set himself alight in protest at apathy in the face of the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia.

A memorial ceremony was held in Palach’s hometown of Všetaty, in Central Bohemia,where his childhood home recently became a museum in his honour, as well as in towns and cities around the country many of which have squares or streets named in his honour.

In Prague people gathered to pay homage to his memory on Wenceslas Square where he set himself alight, at Charles University, where he studied at the Faculty of Arts and at Olšany Cemetery where he is buried.

In the morning, the prime ministers of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary as well as Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz who were in Prague for talks, laid roses at the memorial plaque to Jan Palach at the upper end of Wenceslas Square.

Jan Palach died in agony on January 19, three days after setting himself on fire. Some 200,000 people turned out for his funeral. In death, he would become known as “the conscience of the nation”.