17November

Remembrance Day

Beginning of the Velvet Revolution

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The Velvet Revolution was a large-scale, non-violent revolution that led to the collapse of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic at the end of 1989. It lasted from November 17 – December 29, 1989, when Václav Havel was elected President and the country began to democratize.

On November 17 in 1989, the riot police suppressed a peaceful and non-violent student demonstration in Prague. The demonstration was originally focused on International Students’ Day and commemorating Jan Opletal, a student who was shot by Nazi forces, but quickly transformed into a protest against communism. 

When the students attempted to convene peacefully at Wenceslas Square in the center of Prague, they were violently accosted by police and blocked from escaping.  This event caused an uproar amongst the Czechoslovak population and led thousands of people to partake in general strikes and further political protests.  Those involved in the Velvet Revolution pushed for the resignation of the communist government after forty-one years of repressive rule.  The dissolution of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic set the country on the path towards democracy and signified the end of Soviet-backed, totalitarian policies. 

17th of November is Celebrated as Struggle for Freedom and Democracy Day in Czech Republic and Slovakia.