Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Memorial to Jan Palach on Wenceslas Square - Prague (April 2004)

Jan Palach was a Czech university student who protested the foreign occupation of the former Czechoslovakia following the Warsaw Pact in the late 60s by burning himself to death on this spot just below the National Museum. His action sparked a series of such acts by young people in protest of the occupation. Today he is a Czech national hero. On January 16th, 2003, the anniversary of Palach's 1969 act of protest, another Czech student burned himself to death here in protest of the American occupation of Iraq. I was working two blocks away at the time.

This set of photos was taken late on a spring night. I set up my equipment (with a long lens) on the steps of the museum and waited for someone to pass by the memorial. I had been waiting for perhaps 45 minutes with no luck when a well-dressed elderly man passed by below me. Initially, he passed the spot indifferently, but after passing he glanced back at it as if it had called his name. He stepped back to it and stood for a moment with head bowed, then made the Catholic sign of the cross with his hand before continuing on his way. I had time to snap two shots, which you can see here.


Post a Comment

<< Home