Office Holidays‘ Today’s Memory
Struggle for Freedom and Democracy Day
Originally shared by Office Holidays
Nov 17, Czech Republic, Slovakia: Struggle for Freedom and Democracy Day
This public holiday is always celebrated on 17 November in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.
The Twentieth 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.
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