November 17th – The Velvet Revolution (Nežná revolúcia)

November 17th marks the beginning of the Gentle Revolution (Nežná revolúcia) or Velvet Revolution in 1989. On this date, riot police suppressed a student demonstration in Prague commemorating the 50th Anniversary of a violently suppressed demonstration against Nazi occupation.  This event sparked a series of demonstrations in Prague and other cities in Czechoslovakia from November 19th into late December. At several demonstrations in Prague up to 500,000 protesters gathered.

Following a general strike, the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia on November 28th announced that it would relinquish power and dismantle the one-party state ending 41 years of one-party rule. Two days later, the legislature formally deleted the sections of the Constitution giving the Communists a monopoly of power. On December 10th, President Gustáv Husák appointed the first largely non-communist government in Czechoslovakia since 1948 and resigned. Alexander Dubček was elected speaker of the federal parliament on December 28th and Václav Havel was elected President of Czechoslovakia on December 29th by the federal assembly.

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