Jan Palach Memorial
Jan Palach (11 August 1948 – 19 January 1969) was a Czech student who sacrificed himself in protest against the invasion of Czechoslovakia by the Soviet Union. Palach set himself on fire in Wenceslas Square on the 16th of January 1969. Prague-born Palach was a student of history and political economy at Charles University and the most common belief is that he chose self-immolation to protest the end of the Prague Spring (the brief period of liberalization in Czechoslovakia under Alexander Dubček in 1968). Palach did not die from the burns until several days later. The burns specialist at the hospital claims that Palach stated he set himself on fire to protest against the “demoralization” of Czechoslovak citizens in response to the Soviet occupation. His funeral became a protest itself against the communist occupation. Following his self-immolation, there were several others in the same location in Wenceslas Square in the political center of Prague. A bronze cross was laid into the cobblestone at the location where Palach (and another martyr, Zajic) after the 1989 Velvet Revolution or liberalization of the Czech Republic. Several places throughout Europe have been named in tribute to him including Jan Palach Square.