jan zajic

Jan Palach and Jan Zajíc Commemoration in Prague - May their flames continue burning in Europe

Germans, Czechs, Poles and Ukrainians met July 8, 2017 in Prague to commemorate Jan Palach and Jan Zajíc.

Jan Palach was a Czechoslovak student who burned himself in protest against the defeat of the Prague Spring and the pressure of the Soviet Union since January of 1968. He wanted to rise against the suspension of the reforms conducted by Alexander Dubček’s government, and the consequent lethargy and hopelessness of the Czechoslovakian public, almost five months after the invasion of Czechoslovakia in accord with the Warsaw Pact.

Jan Zajíc did the same in Prague in February of 1969 to condemn the occupation of his homeland by Soviet troops. He set himself on fire as a “torch No. 2” at Prague’s Wenceslas Square.

These two people embody what many people in Europe today lack and what they often miss painfully. Community, culture and identity have always been the cornerstones of our coexistence.

Looking at the history of Europe and learning from it, it is important to recognize that chauvinism and revisionism must be overcome. The basis for this can be the gradual establishment of a cross-border commemorative culture of nationalist forces. Historical resentment, which often complicates the urgently needed cooperation, can be defeated in this way. Mutual respect and dialogue with the European neighbors do not mean abandoning one’s own identity or interests, but strengthening them and strengthening Europe as a whole.