A ceremony is set to take place in Prague on Thursday commemorating 110
years since the birth of Ryszard Siwiec, a Polish man who set himself on
fire in protest at Poland’s involvement in the occupation of
Czechoslovakia in August 1968.
Siwiec died on September 12, 1968 after setting himself alight at a Warsaw sports stadium. The commemorative event will take place at a monument to the Polish protester in front of Prague’s Institute for the Study of Totalitarian regimes.
Otakar Dušek is a designer and artist with a passion for history and historical justice – something he hopes to instil in his students at the prestigious Václav Hollar School of Art in Prague. That passion helped propel him from a teacher of graphic design, fonts and computer graphics to world renowned medallist – an artist specialising in commemorative medals.
Roman Catholic Bishop Václav Malý on Sunday served a special mass at Prague St Vitus Cathedral for the Czech and Polish nations. The mass also commemorated Ryszard Siwiec, the Polish man who set himself alight on September 12, 1968 in protest at his country’s participation in the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia. The name of Ryszard Siwiec was unknown for decades after his self-immolation, as Poland’s communist government tried to erase his act from the public consciousness. A monument to the Polish protester was unveiled in 2010 in front of Prague’s Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes.
Senior Czech and Polish officials on Friday unveiled a monument in Prague honouring a Pole who died in 1968 after setting himself on fire to protest the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia. The monument commemorates Ryszard Siwiec, who set himself alight on September 8, 1968 in a packed stadium in the Polish capital Warsaw, where a crowd of 100,000 including senior communist leaders were attending a festival. Poland's communist regime took part in the invasion, sparking the desperate step by Siwiec, a veteran of the non-communist World War II resistance. The father of five died of burns on September 12, 1968.
The Polish parliament on Friday honoured Polish accountant Ryszard Siwiec,
who set himself on fire in 1968 in protest of the Warsaw Pact invasion of
Czechoslovakia in the summer of that year. Addressing the lower house of
parliament, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk praised the deed as a
defining sacrifice of the generation and the parliamentary distinction as
testament to the importance of Polish-Czech-Slovak relations.
Siwiec, a former Home Army officer and father of five, set himself alight during a harvest festival on September 8, 1968, in front of roughly 100,000 onlookers. Several similar self-immolation protests would follow, including that of Jan Palach.
A street in Prague has been renamed in honour of a Polish man who committed suicide in protest at the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. Ryszard Siwiec set himself alight in a Warsaw stadium in September 1968, and died four days later. His protest was long covered up by the communist authorities, and only recently have details begun to emerge.