Jan Palach and Prague Spring
During the Prague Spring the Czechoslovak student Jan Palach crossed himself on fire (January 16, 1969) in protest against the occupation of the Warsaw Pact troops. He wanted to arouse the Czech public from lethargy following the August Invasion of Czechoslovakia. Palach was taken to hospital with severe burns (85 percent was burned). He died three days later in hospital. On the day of his death, on January 19, 2000,000 people attracted to Wenceslas Square to commemorate him. On the day of his funeral there was a minute of silence across the country. Over 10,000 people attended his funeral. With this action Jan Palach made a statement against the Stalinist regime. Earlier he had written letters to the government in which he claimed, among other things, lifting of censorship and propaganda. He spoke on behalf of a group of people who were willing to sacrifice themselves for their requirements. Following the example of church reformer Jan Hus he wanted to win the truth by stabbing himself on fire. Palach's funeral culminated in a large demonstration against the occupation. A month later, another student Jan Zajic, closed himself in flammable material and set himself alight in a building on Prague’s Wenceslas Square. More people crossed themselves on fire in protest against Stalinism. A Memorial to the university students Jan Palach and Jan Zajic who died from self-immolation is installed at Wenceslas Square. In the Czech Republic, many towns have streets or squares named after Palach, of which the most notable is the Jan Palach Square in central Prague.