The "Living Altar" at Narodni trida
On November 17th, 1989, police beat men, women, and children as they held a peaceful protest to commemorate the death of a student fifty years prior during the Nazi occupation. They gave flowers to the police, lit candles, and jangled their keys as the police blocked them in, determined to stay peaceful.
Eventually, a passage was opened where people escaped, enduring severe beatings as they ran to nearby buildings where strangers took them in. This indiscriminate violence injured hundreds of citizens, most of whom were too scared to find medical help. Despite the fact that no one was killed, despite rumors of one death, people began referring of this day as the November 17th Massacre.
The site at Wenceslas Square, at Narodni trida, became something like a sacred place, attracting people all throughout the revolution. They set candles out, as seen in the picture.
This picture was taken on November 17th, detailing the peaceful efforts of the people in contrast to the terrifying police force behind them.
Similarly to the shrine at Narodni Trida, there were other shrines set up around the country in order to commorate November 17th. They were set up extraordinarily quickly, as this photograph was taken on the same day as the massacre, but in Bratislava.
Shrines like these emphasize the importance of this event to the Czechoslovakians. They would not allow themselves or the government to forget with shrines like this one set up as a constant reminder. It was efforts like this that forced people into action and led to increased unity and solidarity 10 days later during the General Stirke.