The "Living Altar" at Narodni trida

Dublin Core


The "Living Altar" at Narodni trida


The Velvet Revolution, November 17th


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.


Krapfl, James. Revolution with a Human Face: Politics, Culture, and Community in Czechoslovakia, 1989-1992. Cornell University Press; Ithaca, 2013.


Masaryk University Archive, Brno (fond G39, box 42, folder 22).


November 17th, 1989