1969 – Jan Palach commits suicide to protest the invasion of Czechoslovakia

Jan Palach was a twenty year old student in Prague when he set himself on fire. His action was intended as a protest of the brutal suppression of the Prague Spring the previous August, when Soviet tanks rolled into Czechoslovakia to put an end to the liberalisaton that was taking place under the government of Alexander Dub?ek.

Palach spent three days in excrutiating pain before he died of his injuries on January 19, 1969. In death, he became a martyr to the cause of Czechoslovakia liberation (and liberation in general). When the Velvet Revolution freed the Czechs and Slovaks from Soviet rule in 1989, Palach was one of those honoured with memorials by the new government.

Referenced in:
Euromess — Jean-Jacques Burnel
Nuuj Helde — The Janse Bagge Bend
Va De Du Jesus — Åge Aleksandersen
Pochodnie (Torches) — Jacek Kaczmarski
The Funeral of Jan Palach — The Zippo Band