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IPFS News Link • Czechoslovakia

Czech student Palach set himself alight for freedom 50 years ago

• Pulse News Agency International by AFP

Jan Palach was a student activist who burnt himself to death 50 years ago this week to protest at the Soviet-led occupation of then Czechoslovakia. "He loved history and he was also interested in philosophy," Ivana Zizkova, who went to school with Palach, told AFP of the young man, an introvert always immersed in books and magazines. "He was good-looking. Very close to his mother," added Zizkova, who was in the same class as Palach at the school in the Czech town of Melnik just north of Prague. "And what was unusual during the Communist era: he dared to argue with the professors when he disagreed with them," added the now 70-year-old pensioner. Three years after they passed their school-leaving exams, Palach, studying philosophy at Charles University in Prague, set himself alight in the central Wenceslas Square on January 16, 1969. He wanted Czechoslovaks to resist a new hardline regime absolutely loyal to the Kremlin, following the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia