history Eastern_Europe Czecho-Slovakia



“The Velvet Revolution of 1989”

by James K. Yang


Within the history of all nations there exist occasions which show a sense of nationalism by its citizens.   These occasions show how people pull together to show or celebrate all of their pride for their nation.  Some of these occasions mark a nations break from an oppressing country that may have had a hold on the smaller nation.  Such an occasion was that of July 4th in the United States, which marks the break away from the English and their rule over all of the new settlers of the New World.  Another such occasion in an Eastern European nation is that of the Velvet Revolution of 1989 in Czechoslovakia.  This revolution marks the break away from the Soviet Communism by the Czechoslovakia citizens.
Tle were always crushed under the hard hand of Communism of the Soviet Unhroughout history the nation of Czechoslovakia has existed as a nation which has been taken advantage of by other stronger military nations.  They were repressed by the German Nazi, who had taken over power over many East European nations during their attempt to spread the power of the Arian race.  They were also repressed under the military forces of Stalin and forced to join his ideal of Communism.  Czechoslovakia, which once existed as a democratic federal republic with an open market economy, could not protect itself against military power overpowering them by fifty to one.  It is because of the fact that Czechoslovakia was a generally peaceful nation that caused it to remain under the control of Communism for so long.  All of their small attempts to break free and promote more democratic aspects for their peopion. 


However, as the years continued on, Czechoslovakian citizens began to grow tired of Communism and its repressing force.  On January 1,1977 more than 250 human rights activists signed a manifesto called Charter 77.  This was a manifesto that criticized the government for failing to implement human right provisions of a document it had signed.  Such human rights provisions as states own constitutions, and international covenants on political, economic, civil, and cultural rights.  This manifesto showed the beginning of the desire of the citizens of Czechoslovakia to have their human rights respected by the government.
In the second half of the 1980’s there began increasing talks between the Soviet Union and the Western Democracies.  The citizens became more and more unwilling to accept repressive policies of the Communist regime.  This unwillingness can be seen by the petition “A Few Sentences,” which was written by Vaclav Havel and other intellectuals of the time.  Ten thousand Czechoslovakian citizens signed this petition.
The inevitable social change began with a peaceful demonstration of Czechoslovakian students on November 17,1989 on the 50th anniversary of when the students went to the streets to protest the Nazi’s and were killed.  After the students had paid their respects to those who were killed they began to realize that this was the perfect opportunity for them to protest against the governing Communist regime of the Soviet Union. The crowd of students left the Vysehrad cemetery and headed for Wenceslas Square.  Unfortunately, the crowds of students were beat by the policemen as they sang songs about freedom.


In the following days, Charter 77 and other groups united to become the Civic Forum, an umbrella group which was fighting for bureaucratic reform and civil liberties.  Its leader was Vaclav Havel.  The Civic Forum gained support from the Czech citizens very quickly.  The Slovaks also had its counterpart, the Public against Violence.  It was this overwhelming support by the citizens of Czechoslovakia, which brought upon the collapse of the Communist regime.  The leaders of the regime, Husak and party chiefs Milos Jakes resigned from their positions in December of 1989.  After this fall of Communism in Czechoslovakia, Vaclav Havel was elected president of Czechoslovakia on December 29,1989.
In June of 1990, the first free election since 1948 took place without ant incidents.  More than 95% of the voting population voted.  The Civic Forum and the Public against Violence won by a landslide victory for their respective republics.  However, democratic elections not only occurred on this level.  It spread to local town levels also.
This revolution of the Czechoslovakian nation was one that was won without any casualties.  It had brought many of the citizens together to fight for that, which was robbed from them time and time again, their freedom.  No longer were they powerless against the military of the German Nazi’s of the iron grip of the Soviet Unions Communist regime.  The people had joined together as a nation and fought back on a large scale to gain their own personal human rights and privileges back.  November 17,1989 a day in which a feeling of nationalism of an entire nation had prevailed to overpower even the strongest grips of repression that existed for decades.         


   List of Sources

1) Wheaton, Bernard.  The Velvet Revolution – Czechoslovakia 1988-91.  Westfield Press. San Fransisco, CA 1992.

2)      Background notes – Czechoslovakia.  http://www.shsu.edu/~hp_ncp/EeurBN.html

3)      Czechoslovakia. http://www.infopls.com/ce5/CEO13727.html

4)      Vaclav Havel. http://www.hrad.cz/president/havel/cvp_uk.html

5)      Year 1989. http://www.geocities.com/TheTropics/resort/3353/




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