Updated Nov. 17, 2023 at 12:10 p.m.
In the push for an end to the Communist regime, Prague's international students took to the streets to have their demands heard on November 17, 1989. It was the beginning of what would come to be known as the Velvet Revolution.
How did the Velvet Revolution begin?
On international students day in 1989, a student demonstration against Czechoslovakia’s one party drew around 15,000 to the nation’s capital city of Prague. The demonstrators were met with force, as the protest was suppressed by riot police.
A fabricated story about a student being killed at the protests quickly made its way around, sparking the beginning of the Velvet Revolution. In the days following the initial demonstration, the number of protestors in the city rapidly increased to 500,000, demanding an end to the country’s Communist, one party rule.
By the end of the month, there was massive turnout at the largely non-violent street demonstrations that would go down in history as the Velvet Revolution.
What did the Velvet Revolution accomplish?
The protests led the government to withdraw, abolishing the parts of its Constitution that gave the Communist party complete control. In June of the following year, Czechoslovakia would hold its first democratic elections. The country would later split into the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic.
Why was it called the Velvet Revolution?
The name Velvet Revolution refers to the final protests against the Communist regime that started in November 1989. Because Czechoslovakian protests and government reaction were much more peaceful and smooth compared to the conflict 21 years earlier that put an end to the Prague Spring anti-government activism, as well as other clashes that brought an end to the Cold War.