29 October 2011

Czechoslovak Independence Day

Yesterday was Czechoslovak Independence Day. I asked a Czech why they still celebrate Czechoslovakia, which technically ceased to exist in 1993, when Slovakia became an independent nation. She told me “we still think of ourselves as Czechoslovakia, even the the Slovaks don’t agree.”

Here is part of the explanation of the holiday given at the US Embassy website.

"On October 28, 1918 the first independent Czechoslovak state was founded from territories that were previously part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. President Tomáš G. Masaryk became the leader of a state that was based on President Woodrow Wilson’s 14 points, especially the principle of self-determination.

Czechoslovakia became one of Europe’s first successful multi-party parliamentary democracies, and it was stable enough to withstand the international depression of the 1930s. The First Republic only lasted two decades until Nazi Germany occupied the Czech Lands in 1938/9. Although Czechoslovakia no longer exists today, Czechs continue to view October 28 as the day of their national founding."

We spent part of our day at Wenceslas Square. It was here that independence was declared on October 28, 1918. It was crowded with people who were just out for a stroll, or shopping, or spending time at the several monuments commemorating the lives and deaths of several Czech heroes.

The photo at the right is the statue of Good King Wenceslas at one end of Wenceslas Square.

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