• Henrieta Duffner

November 17th, the Velvet revolution and me in Dubai on the Beach.

November 17th 2017, Westin Beach Resort, Dubai

Today is17th of November 2017, in Czech Republic is today special day, for exactly 28 years started the Velvet revolution. Definitively a very special day to remember, I am thinking of my all friends living around the world, which have the chance to do so because of this special day.

November 17th is not at all just an ordinary day in the Czech Republic. If you take a look at the Czech calendar, you will see that November 17th is marked as a public holiday. It is called the Day of a Struggle for Freedom and Democracy. It is a very important day for Czechs not only for one, but for two reasons!

On this day, Czechs commemorate two remarkable events in the Czech history – one happened in 1939 and another one exactly fifty years later, in 1989. The former commemorates the student demonstration against Nazi occupation, the later the demonstration against the communist government, which was again held by students, and led to the so called Velvet Revolution. Both evens are significant in fighting for freedom and democracy of the Czech people.

But why both events took place on November 17 and not on some other day? Well, both evens are connected.

It all started on October 28, 1939, which was the 21st anniversary of the independence of the Czechoslovak Republic. On this day there were big anti-Nazi demonstrations in Prague, which were suppressed by Nazi forces – you probably know that Czechs were occupied by Hitler’s Germany back then. One student, whose name was Jan Opletal, a nineteen year old student of the Medical Faculty of the Charles University in Prague, was seriously wounded there and died few days later.

His funeral, attended by thousands of students, turned into another anti-Nazi demonstration. This provoked the Nazis so much that on November 17th they ordered to close all Czech universities and colleges, plus over 1200 Czech students were sent to concentration camps, and nine students were executed.

Because of this terrible act, November 17th is since 1941 marked as International Students Day by the International Union of Students.

Fifty years after such oppression, in 1989, Czech students organized a demonstration to commemorate the student martyr Jan Opletal and the International Students Day. It started off as an officially-sanctioned march, but turned quickly into demonstration demanding the resignation of the country’s communist government. Students were brutally beaten by riot police. This annoyed the public so much that they went on strike as well, demanding the same thing.

Demonstrations, which were held afterwards, were attended by more and more people. With the growing street protests and with other communist regimes falling around, the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia finally announced on November 28th they would step out.

November 17, 1989, started the so called The Velvet Revolution. As a result, the first democratic elections since 1946 were held in June 1990 and brought the first completely non-communist government to Czechs and Slovaks in over 40 years.

Thanks to this day I am able to sit here with my lovely family, enjoy my life the way I was dreaming about, but never believed it will come true. Thank to all of you going on the streets to fight for the freedom. We should never forget that we have the power to change things, as individuals we will have it hard but we can succeed but as a union, we are strong and our chances are much higher. Please keep that on mind, for the next step for better future.

Big kiss to all my lovely friends from Czech republic.

(Part of the text copied from

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