Jan Palach Square – Jan Palach Memorial


palachWhere: You can find these sculptures close to the Mánesův bridge at the Jan Palach Square on the Alšovo Riverbank just next to the Prague academy of Arts in Prague 1. GPS 50.088870, 14.414111

What: The artwork is named “the House of the Suicide and House of the Mother of the Suicide” and is created by the artist John Hejduk. The light statue symbolizes the figure of a son carrying light, the House of the Suicide, and the dark one a suffering mother, the House of the Mother of the Suicide. It was officially unveiled on January 16th of 2016. The artwork honors the Czech dissident Jan Palach who committed suicide by setting himself on fire as a protest against the Sovjet invasion of 1968. Besides the 2 sculptures there is a plaque with a poem written by David Shapiro called the “Funeral of Jan Palach”.

When I entered the first meditation
    I escaped the gravity of the object,
I experienced the emptiness,
    And I have been dead a long time.

When I had a voice you could call a voice,
    My mother wept to me:
My son, my beloved son,
    I never thought this possible

I’ll follow you on foot.
    Halfway in mud and slush the microphones picked up.
It was raining on the houses;
    It was snowing on the police-cars.

The astronauts were weeping,
    Going neither up nor out.
And my own mother was brave enough she looked
    And it was alright I was dead.

Who: Jan Palach (11 August 1948 – 19 January 1969) was a Czech student of history and political economy at Charles University in Prague. After the Sovjet invasion in August of 1968, which stopped the liberalizing reforms in Czechoslovakia and thus ending the Prague Spring, Palach decided to sacrifice himself in protest of that invasion. After he had posted letters to several public figures explaining the reasons and his demands he set himself on fire on Prague’s central square (Wenceslas Square), on 16 January 1969. His funeral on the 25th of February turned into a major protest against the occupation.He is buried at Olšany Cemetery in Prague 3.





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