Nazi shutdown of universities on November 17, 1939 commemorated in Prague's Albertov

At Hlávkova kolej in Prague's Albertov neighbourhood, around 200 people attended the commemoration of the tragic events of autumn 1939, when during an anti-Nazi protest, German occupation units shot and killed the student Jan Opletal and then, on November 17, closed down Czech Universities. The event saw speeches by members of the academic community and politicians including the deputy head of the Czech Senate Milan Štěch of the Social Democrats, who said that the events of November 17 1939 and 1989 are connected by a common strive for freedom and democracy. Charles University rector Tomáš Zima urged those attending to focus on what unites them rather than on divisive issues.

The commemoration was also marked by some attendees booing and whistling during rector Zima’s speech. Dr. Zima has been in the spotlight in recent weeks for his role in establishing the Czech-Chinese Centre at Charles University, where some events seem to have been funded by the Chinese Embassy. The centre was closed earlier this week, but students demonstrating against the rektor and for a greater awareness towards climate change at the university, have vowed to continue occupying its main building until the end of the weekend.

Author: Tom McEnchroe