For the 30th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution, bridges over the Vltava River, Prague, Czech Republic
© Markus Lange/Offse
Remembering the Velvet Revolution. Remembering the Velvet Revolution
Today we're visiting Prague for the 30th anniversary of the start of the Velvet Revolution in what was then Czechoslovakia. On November 17, 1989, during their annual International Students Day observance, 15,000 students in Prague began demonstrating against the Communist Party's authoritarian rule over the country. After the official end of the demonstration, the students continued marching to the center of the city. When they reached Národní Street, they were met by security forces who, after blocking all escape routes, began attacking. Afterwards, unfounded rumors of an injured or possibly dead student triggered strikes among students, actors, and others.
Within days, mass demonstrations were happening in Prague's Wenceslas Square and spreading to other cities. By November 27, the movement had grown so large that 75 percent of the population participated in a general strike across the country. Demonstrators and dissidents would successfully achieve the nonviolent end to communist rule over Czechoslovakia on December 10 and within months Soviet troops would leave the country.