pragueBlog

2004-11-16  

So another November 17th anniversary. Number 15 to be exact. I had been in Prague for a few months when the second anniversary rolled around. That it happened is the single reason all us cynical ex-pats are here, lest we forget.

The day of the actual infamous student march which ended up meeting ranks of riot police on Narodni trida in the center was meant to commemorate International Students Day, which in turn, I believe, began after the war as a memorial to students murdered by the Germans during the early days of the protectorate. Correct me if I'm wrong. International Students Day apparently is still an ongoing concern - here they are a few years ago declaring an international day of action for peace by deploring the war in Afghanistan.

The p.a. system in the metro blared an announcement this morning that trams would not run tomorrow in the area around Narodni, Lazarska etc. from which I deduce that there will be a ceremony of some kind. Does any well-informed person know what's going on?

An anecdote: There was a nice program yesterday on tv about Jaroslav Hutka, the Moravian folk singer who tends to sing a bit off-tune but is one of those characters that literally everyone knows. Living in exile in Holland, he got on a plane a few days after November 17th and flew to Prague. He was denied entry. On the other side of the barriers a crowd was growing as hundreds of people swarmed out to the airport to, I suppose, greet him and other returning exiles. He timed his flight and day well; after about four hours the crowds were such that the Czech immigration staff quietly packed it in and disappeared and the gates were thrown open. That would have been something to see.

Hutka was driven to Letna where one of the biggest demonstrations (half a million people?) so far was going on. They brought him up on stage and he started singing. He'd been gone for years and suddenly half a million people were singing along - everybody knew all the words. The crowd demanded songs and more songs, and suddenly Havel leaned over and said, "hey, this isn't a concert. We're replacing a government here."

Steve | 17:50 |
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