One of very few photos of Zajíc
3 July 1950|
25 February 1969 (aged 18)|
|Cause of death||Self-immolation|
|Honours||Order of Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk|
Jan Zajíc (July 3, 1950 – February 25, 1969) was a Czech student who committed suicide by self-immolation as a political protest. He was a student of the Střední průmyslová škola železniční (Industrial Highschool of Railways) technical college in Šumperk, specializing in railroads, and was also interested in poetry and humanities.
On the day of the twenty-first anniversary of the Communist takeover (25 February 1969), he travelled to Prague accompanied by three other students. His intention was to warn the public against the forthcoming political "normalization" of the country. He had several letters challenging the people to fight against the Warsaw Pact's military occupation of Czechoslovakia. Around 1:30 in the afternoon he walked into the passageway of the building at No. 39 on Wenceslas Square and ignited his chemical-soaked clothes. He was unable to run out of the door, and collapsed and died in the hallway.
In a letter he left behind he wrote:
Mother, father, brother, little sister!
When you read this letter, I will already be dead or close to death. I know what a severe blow my act will be to you, but don't be angry at me. Unfortunately, we are not alone in this world. I am not doing this because I would be tired by life, on the contrary, because I cherish it too much. Hopefully my act will make life better. I know the price of life and I know it is the most precious thing. But I want a lot for you, for everyone, so I have to pay a lot. Do not lose your heart after my sacrifice, tell Jacek to study harder and Marta too. You must never accept injustice, be it in any form, my death will bind you. I am sorry that I will never see you or that, which I loved so much. Please forgive me that I fought with you so much. Do not let them make me a madman.
Say hi to the boys, the river and the forest.
His death mask by sculptor Olbram Zoubek is situated at his high school (now Vyšší odborná škola a střední průmyslová škola Šumperk).
- Thích Quảng Đức
- Ryszard Siwiec
- Jan Palach
- Evžen Plocek
- Romas Kalanta
- List of political self-immolations
- A biography of Jan Zajic - Website of Charles University in Prague
- A biography of Jan Zajic - Website of Czech Radio
- Media related to Jan Zajíc at Wikimedia Commons