In Photos: Jan Palach’s Funeral 53 Years Ago

On January 16, 1969, Jan Palach set himself on fire in Prague in protest against the August 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia by Warsaw Pact troops. The 20-year-old university student died of his burns three days later.

Palach’s funeral turned into a mass demonstration of opposition against the Soviet Union’s crushing of the liberal reforms of the Prague Spring.

His act of protest inspired two other Czechs — Jan Zajic and Evzen Plocek — to commit suicide by self-immolation in the following months, followed by similar acts by protesters in other communist countries.

Thousands gather on Prague’s Wenceslas Square on the day of Palach’s funeral.

Mourners mark Palach’s funeral

People carry Czechoslovak flags during Palach’s funeral on January 25, 1969.

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