|St Wenceslas Square looking down from the National Museum|
The Prague Spring was a period of political liberalization in Czechoslovakia during the era of its domination by the Soviet Union after WWII. It began on 5 January 1968, when reformist Slovak Alexander Dubcek came to power, and was ended on 21 August when the Soviet Union invaded the country to halt the reforms.
Jan Palach and Jan Zajíc burned themselves in protest of the demoralization of the Czechoslovakian people due to the Soviet occupation. The events took place just to the left of the entrance to the National Museum in St. Wenceslas Square. Jan Palach's name became known world wide and his funeral turned into a large protest against the occupation. One month later on February 25, 1969, another university student Jan Zajíc, burned himself to death in the same place. Out of fear of a similar protest, the Soviet Union did not allow Zajíc to be mentioned at all. He was burried in his home town of Jihlava, where that April Evzen Plocek also took his life in protest against the demoralization of the occupation.
After the Velvet Revolution a bronze cross and a small mound was placed where the men burned themselves.