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“It was a time of continuous and glorious surprises, a time of great improvisation, a time of collective imagination. Suddenly people were once again able to be together” Václav Havel, November 21, 2016

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Have We Learned Any Lessons? An article written by Martin Palouš and David J. Kramer  25/02/20

Thirty years ago, on February 21, 1990, the new president of Czechoslovakia addressed a joint session of the U.S. Congress in Washington, DC. Less than four months before, in a remarkable contrast to the position he had assumed as leader of his country, Vaclav Havel had been under arrest as a “subversive element” in his country under a Communist regime that was soon to come to a spectacular end. Continue reading here.


Conference Global Challenges to Liberal Thought  28/01/20

Dear guests, Due to organisational reasons on the side of our partner, we are obliged to postpone the conference "Global Challenges to Liberal Thought" on 31 January and 1 February to which you have registered. We will inform you about the new date in advance. We apologize for any inconvenience and we are looking forward to seeing you at some other event at our premises. Václav Havel Library Team


Support Hong Kong with 5 fingers raised!  10/12/19

On 10 December 2019, Human Rights Day, the Vaclav Havel Library is launching a Facebook happening to support the protesters in Hong Kong. We call upon everyone to upload their photographs with their 5 fingers raised under this Facebook event. More


It’s here again – the Velvet Weekend is coming!  06/11/19

Do you recall that time of euphoria? Thirty years ago when the Czech and Slovak nation united and said a clear NO to the Communist government? Let’s celebrate this round anniversary together and remember Václav Havel, the first democratically elected president of Czechoslovakia after 1989. More

Program for November 2019<>

David Hrbek: Words, Images, Rock’n’Roll

David Hrbek: Words, Images, Rock’n’Roll

  • Where: Václav Havel Library, Ostrovní 13, Prague 110 00
  • When: November 1, 2019, 18:00 – 20:00

In his book Slovo, Obraz, Rokenrol (Words, Images, Rock’n’Roll) David Hrbek speaks to musicians, photographers, writers and composers about the 1960s, rock’n’roll, the Beatles, freedom in art and first and foremost their own work, personal recollections and experiences. Among his interviewees are Mike McCartney, Václav Havel, Lou Reed, Suzanne Vega and Michael Nyman, while stories about Andy Warhol, Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton also feature.

David Hrbek is a lecturer at the Olomouc Museum of Art, the dramaturge of the On-Stage Interviews series at theatre Švandovo divadlo, an occasional musician and the author of a number of books, including Šumný Vávra (Buzzing Vávra), Všechno je sázka (Everything’s a Wager) and Dvacet zářících drahokamů (Twenty Shining Gems).

The book’s editor Jitka Hanušová will conduct on-stage interviews with the author and his guests.

Organised at the Václav Havel Library by the Kniha Zlín publishing house.

Stay Strong! Letters from Prison

Stay Strong! Letters from Prison

  • Where: Václav Havel Library, Ostrovní 13, Prague 110 00
  • When: November 4, 2019, 19:00 – 21:00

The letters present two individuals joined by a stale romance but also considerable life experience. They capture attempts to maintain freedom of speech but also fear of the censorship that would hold back messages for the other person. They reveal the hardship that the married couple, civically engaged individuals, had to face during normalisation.”

Vydržať! Dopisy z vězení (Stay Strong! Letters from Prison), a book of correspondence between Jaromír Šavrda and his wife Dolores between 1978 and 1984, will be introduced by Jiří Gruntorád, Iva Málková and Jiří Fiedor. Markéta and Roman Polách will read excerpts while video interviews with Dolores Šavrdová will be screened.

Organised by the Václav Havel Library in cooperation with the Pulchra publishing house.

Czechoslovaks’ Journeys to Freedom in the Antipodes – Havel in the Pacific

Czechoslovaks’ Journeys to Freedom in the Antipodes – Havel in the Pacific

  • Where: Václav Havel Library, Ostrovní 13, Prague 110 00
  • When: November 5, 2019, 19:00 – 21:00

A debate focused on the Czechoslovak exile community in Australia and New Zealand. What form did waves of Czechoslovak migration to the Antipodes in the 20th century take, particularly post-1948? What conditions welcomed newly-arrived exiles in Australia and New Zealand in the 1950s, and why did that change after the 1968 occupation of Czechoslovakia?

We will look back at the community of Czechs and Slovaks Down Under, while exiles themselves will describe life in Australia and New Zealand. Also discussed will be the Czech men and women who found success in Pacific countries. As part of the discussion we will also recall Václav Havel’s presidential visit to the region in 1995.

Markéta Vozková from the Aussie and Kiwi Film Fest team will compere the evening.

The event takes place within the accompanying programme of the sixth edition of the festival of Australian and New Zealand cinema, whose theme is FREEDOM. For more, go to

Like in Heaven, But Different

Like in Heaven, But Different

  • Where: Václav Havel Library, Ostrovní 13, Prague 110 00
  • When: November 7, 2019, 19:00 – 21:00

Lone wolves don’t only live in the Šumava. Aleš Palán, author of the bestselling Raději zešílet v divočině (Best to Go Crazy in the Wilderness), describes encounters with other solitary types living off the grid. He spent a year and a half visiting them in remote parts, from Chodsko to the White Carpathians, from the Jizera Mountains to the Beskids.

The book Jako v nebi, jenže jinak (Like in Heaven, But Different) includes an interview with a woman who has lived virtually her entire life in mountain solitude a few kilometres from the Slovak border. It also features a man who bought an old military vehicle 20 years ago and has holed up in it since then among the fishponds of southern Bohemia. We also visit the hermitage of a contemporary pilgrim, the Franciscan monk Anděl.

These encounters with Moravian and Bohemian loners are accompanied by singular outlooks, unrepeatable life stories and a good degree of natural mysticism.

The main guest will be photographer Johana Pošová, who took the pictures in the book, while the moderator will be Denisa Novotná.

Vladimír Mikulka: Battering Rams of the Future

Vladimír Mikulka: Battering Rams of the Future

  • Where: Václav Havel Library, Ostrovní 13, Prague 110 00
  • When: November 8, 2019, 19:00 – 21:00

Beranidla Budoucnosti (Battering Rams of the Future) is a theatre play that demonstrates that conspiracy theories have always been true.

Who gave away the results of the Mariáš cards league? Who is my real dad? Who sold out the Velvet Revolution? What happened at Prague Castle in the 1990s? Who’s spraying chemtrails on us? Only a fool would continue to swallow such deception – something should be done about it immediately.

Stage reading featuring Vladimír Mikulka, Kateřina Rudčenková, Jakub Škorpil and Martin J. Švejda. Music by Petr Mazúr.

The Antonín Puchmajer theatre group grew out of the ruins of the Antonín Theatre Company, which itself grew out of the ruins of the Puchmajer Cultural Theatre Company founded in the early 1990s by then students at the Department of Theatre Science at Charles University’s Faculty of Arts (today theatre critics and historians).

Krzysztof Miller: Breakthroughs and Conflicts

Krzysztof Miller: Breakthroughs and Conflicts

  • Where: Leica Gallery, Školská 28, Praha 1
  • When: November 8, 2019, 19:00 – January 5, 2020, 21:00

Work by the Polish photo reporter from the Velvet Revolution and around the world.

1989. The Eastern Bloc is falling apart. Krzysztof Miller, then a fledgling Polish reporter, captures in his pictures demonstrations and changes in Poland, the Velvet Revolution in Prague and the bloody fall of the regime in Romania.

Between 1990 and 2008 he documented a series of military conflicts and victims of massacres and famines. Miller, who is today famous, has undertaken almost 60 international trips, returning to a number of places several times. Among other spots, he has taken pictures in Romania, Iran, Georgia, Nagorno-Karabakh, Bosnia, Croatia, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Cambodia, Burundi, Zaire, Kosovo, Congo, Iraq, Uganda, Southern Sudan and Kenya.

Miller immortalised key moments and central conflicts of the 20th century, as this exhibition bears out. The images on show deliver not just a picture of the contemporary world but also of a perceptive and exceptional photo reporter who, thanks to his perceptive eye, has managed to capture ordinary people in their everyday reality.

The exhibition is an accompanying event to Festival of Freedom, celebrating the anniversary of 17 November 1989.

Co-organisers: Polish Institute in Prague, Václav Havel Library, Leica Gallery Prague, Dom Spotkań z Historią and Agencja Gazeta. The project has been supported by the Czech-Polish Forum of the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Psí Vojáci 40: Day and Evening of Remembrance

Psí Vojáci 40: Day and Evening of Remembrance

  • Where: Václav Havel Library, Ostrovní 13, Prague 110 00
  • When: November 10, 2019, 12:00 – 21:00

In honour of the 40th anniversary of their first official concert, we will recollect moments shared with the band Psí Vojáci during a day and evening of remembrance.

These celebrations are very much at the right venue in the Václav Havel Library. After all, it was thanks to Václav Havel that the group’s front man Filip Topol appeared in public for the first time, playing before The Plastic People of the Universe at Hrádeček. A year later the full band performed their first official concert within the Prague Jazz Days festival in 1979. In the afternoon we will remember them via the interactive exhibition Psí Vojáci: Music on the Canvas by Sára Svobodová, whose brushes moved to the rhythm of music that you can listen to on headphones placed by the paintings. We will also look back in an interview with the artist due to follow as part of the evening programme. VHL dramaturge Jáchym Topol will also take part, delivering a reading of one of his brother’s poems.

The evening will conclude with performances by Vladivojna La Chia, with a repertoire of Psí Vojáci songs, and the duo Déjà vu. The whole nation of “Dog Soldiers” are invited to come along and remember and listen in the company of fellow fans.

The evening will be moderated by Anna Řeháková, coordinator of the exhibition Psí Vojáci: Music on the Canvas.

Beatrice Landovská: It’s Never Too Late (For a Happy Childhood)

Beatrice Landovská: It’s Never Too Late (For a Happy Childhood)

  • Where: Václav Havel Library, Ostrovní 13, Prague 110 00
  • When: November 11, 2019, 19:00 – 21:00

Beatrice Landovská’s autobiographical book Nikdy není pozdě na šťastné dětství (It’s Never too Late for a Happy Childhood) details the contented childhood of the daughter of actor Pavel Landovský. Excerpts will be read by Libuška Šafránková, his old colleague from the golden age of the theatre Činoherní klub, when Russian dramas were performed (as referred to many times in the book), as were the greats of the 1960s: Pavel Juráček, Jan Němec, Václav Havel and Ludvík Vaculík. The memoir centres on the period 1962–1976 and recount events in the Prague district of Vokovice, Pardubice, Kytlice and other spots in Bohemia, as well as on a trip to Bulgaria.

Is there such a thing as childhood? All that exists is what we remember. And when our memories go, even that won’t exist. When we become adults only we adults are responsible for our childhoods.”

Whoever was around then will remember and whoever wasn’t will learn how wonderful a Prague childhood could be.

Jáchym Topol will conduct a talk with Beatrice Landovská. The book’s editor, Petr Himmel, will launch the gathering.

Organised by the Václav Havel Library in cooperation with the Garamond publishing house.

Debate with Respekt

Debate with Respekt

  • Where: Václav Havel Library, Ostrovní 13, Prague 110 00
  • When: November 12, 2019, 19:00 – 21:00

Debate with editors from the weekly Respekt and their guests on a topical issue.

Who Knows What Tomorrow Brings?

Who Knows What Tomorrow Brings?

  • Where: Václav Havel Library, Ostrovní 13, Prague 110 00
  • When: November 13, 2019, 19:00 – 21:00

What does it mean to be a journalist in the 21st century?

What will happen with respected commentator Jindřich Šídlo sits down to discuss journalism with Tomáš Etzler, who cooperates with CNN in the US and is a former Czech Television China correspondent? In the era of Facebook and YouTube, what does the profession entail? How does American journalism differ from the European, respectively Czech, variety? And why do people go abroad? The two journalists will discuss a range of issues, serious and otherwise.

The Václav Havel Library at the Farmer’s Market in Dejvice

The Václav Havel Library at the Farmer’s Market in Dejvice

  • Where: Farmers' Market at Kulaťák, Vítězné náměstí, Praha 6 - Dejvice
  • When: November 16, 2019, 08:00 – 14:00

A stand offering fare from the Václav Havel cookbook and publications produced by the VH Library.

A day before the anniversary of 17 November, we will not only recall the major role played by Václav Havel in the revolution and the importance of his legacy for freedom and democracy but also savour some tastes and aromas associated with his name.

Visitors to the market will be able sample dishes from the recently published Václav Havel cookbook Kančí na daňčím (Boar on Fallow Deer), such as the unrivalled Lukashenka’s Rage, which will surely spur them to purchase this unique collection of Havel-related recipes or other recent titles published by the Václav Havel Library that will also be on sale.

Later, their mood brightened, they may like to exercise their civic viewpoint at Letná Plain. Bon appétit!

(Theatre) Night at the Václav Havel Library

(Theatre) Night at the Václav Havel Library

  • Where: Václav Havel Library, Ostrovní 13, Prague 110 00
  • When: November 16, 2019, 19:00 – 24:00

19.00 – 20.30

The Garden Party Here and Now

The Sedlčany theatre company Našlose

The young theatre group will render Václav Havel’s first play, and one of his most famous, as a documentary about contemporary society in a town with a population of 8,000.

The hero of the first Czech absurdist drama, the eager, docile and malleable Hugo Pludek, a chess-loving member of the middle classes, soon grasps the mechanisms of career advancement; he becomes a master of empty phrases and dominates the world of initiators and liquidators.

Featuring: Martin Pešek, Zuzana Trojanová, Jana Durďáková, Jakub Feldstein, David Krůta, Anna Novotná, Petr Bilina, Filip Hodys, Radek Strnad, David Feldstein, Director: Jaroslava Trojanová.

21.00 – 23.00

Theatre and Revolution

A compilation of archival documentary footage from November 1989, when students and theatre people took history into their own hands, unleashing what became known as the Velvet Revolution.

Thirty Years of Freedom – Live Czech Radio Broadcast from the VHL

Thirty Years of Freedom – Live Czech Radio Broadcast from the VHL

  • Where: Václav Havel Library, Ostrovní 13, Prague 110 00
  • When: November 17, 2019, 10:00 – 11:00

On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution, Czech Radio’s Dvojka station will broadcast a special edition of the programme How They See It live from the Václav Havel Library. Zita Senková’s guests will reflect on the ethos and significance of November 1989, how Czech society and politics have changed, how the legacy of the previous regime has been dealt with and what freedom and democracy mean to us.

Organised by the Václav Havel Library and Czech Radio Dvojka.

Visitors are requested to take up their seats by 9:50.

One Day We’ll Have Made Progress

One Day We’ll Have Made Progress

  • Where: Václav Havel Library, Ostrovní 13, Prague 110 00
  • When: November 17, 2019, 12:00 – 18:00

A little remembrance of events 30 years ago and contemplation of how to convey those events to the young generation. Every hour and a half hour we will screen footage from 1989 and continue with educational videos from the Year of Revolution series (, while you will also learn how Václav Havel imagined life in the Czech Republic in the year 2029. The event will conclude at 17:30 with a 20-minute performance by Dance Studio Light entitled The Republic is Waiting for Us, or Where is My Home.

It’s Back Again

It’s Back Again

  • Where: Činoherní klub, Ve Smečkách 26, Prague 1
  • When: November 17, 2019, 21:00 – 23:00

The Velvet Revolution began with a student march on Friday 17 November 1989. On the evening of Sunday 19 November, the Civic Forum was born at the Činoherní klub theatre. It led the revolution to victory and opened a new, democratic chapter in Czech history. Following a day of celebrations, marches and reminiscences, we will meet at the Činoherní klub on Sunday 17 November 2019 for an evening of period footage, recollections of participants in that fatal evening at the same venue 30 years earlier, music of that time and an examination of the raw reality of the present day. It’s guaranteed to be captivating, though the outcome is far from certain.

Among those due to speak are Martin Palouš, Edward LucasTimothy Garton AshAlexandr Vondra, Michael Žantovský and representatives of the groups Million Moments for Democracy, Národní Promenade and Festival of Freedom as well as other civic initiatives.

Musical accompaniment will take the form of Jiří Černý’s Civic Disco and Vladimír Merta’s stirring songs.

The Václav Havel Library and co-organisers Činoherní klub extend a warm invitation.

VH’S Living Room on Národní

VH’S Living Room on Národní

  • Where: Vaclav Havel Square, Prague 1
  • When: November 17, 2019, 12:00 – 18:00

This year once again we are opening up a space for lounging, public readings and purchasing books and listening to Václav Havel texts as part of the Národní Promenade, during with Národní St. will again be transformed into a pedestrian zone packed with street art, concerts and other arts activities. Come along and read Havel or listen to him being recited by well-known faces.

Confirmed participants this year include Václav Marhoul, Michael Kocáb, Tomáš Etzler and Dagmar Havlová.

We will publish the names of other well-known figures taking part on our Facebook page.

The Transitions to Democracy in Spain and Czechia/Czechoslovakia

The Transitions to Democracy in Spain and Czechia/Czechoslovakia

  • Where: Václav Havel Library, Ostrovní 13, Prague 110 00
  • When: November 18, 2019, 18:30 – 20:30

Debate organised on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution and the 100th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Czech Republic and Spain. It will address how Spain and the then Czechoslovakia were able to move from dictatorship to democracy in processes globally considered to be successful, how the two countries have evolved since then, and what challenges still lie ahead.

The speakers will be Michael Žantovský and Charles Powell, the Director of the Spanish think tank Real Instituto Elcano, Spain’s leading international relations think-tank, and a Professor of Contemporary History. He was Lecturer in Oxford. He has published six books and dozens of articles on Spanish history, politics and foreign policy, with special emphasis on its European dimension.

The event will be held in English.

Admission is free on the basis of registration until capacity has been met. For registration form go to:

Organised in cooperation with the Embassy of Spain in Prague andthe Instituto Cervantes, Spanish finger food and wine will follow after the discussion.

Charles Powell is Director of the Elcano Royal Institute, Spain’s leading international relations think-tank, and a Professor of Contemporary History at CEU San Pablo University. Prior to settling in Spain in 1997, he was Lecturer in History at Corpus Christi College (Oxford), J. A. Pye Fellow at University College (Oxford), and Junior Research Fellow at St. Antony’s College (Oxford). He has published six books and dozens of articles on Spanish history, politics and foreign policy, with special emphasis on its European dimension. Dr. Powell holds a BA in History and Modern Languages from Oxford University, where he also obtained his D. Phil for a thesis on Spain’s transition to democracy, which was supervised pointed a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG) for his services to British-Spanish relations.

That Day, 17 November 1989

That Day, 17 November 1989

  • Where: Václav Havel Library, Ostrovní 13, Prague 110 00
  • When: November 19, 2019, 19:00 – 21:00

Everybody took to the streets of Prague that day. They just didn’t know yet they had become part of an event that changed our history.

The gathering at Prague’s Albertov, the euphoric march along the embankment and the subsequent violent repression on Národní St. have entered the history books. Ten den 17. listopad 1989 (That Day – 17 November 1989) is a new book bringing together over 200 eye-witness accounts from experienced demonstrators as well as those who took to the streets for the first time that day, student organisers and rank and file participants, random passers-by and police officers. What was their experience of 17 November and what expectations did it give them? What thoughts did they wake up with that morning and what future did they imagine when the demonstration was broken up and they were counting their cuts and bruises? It isn’t a detachment of actors in those events but the actual day itself that speaks to the reader. The book gives a voice to well-known and unknown attendees, including those who have never previously spoken publicly about their experiences.

The authors, Michal Beck, Matouš Hartman, Alžběta Ambrožová and Anna Palánová, who were still students when the book was being written, have created in cooperation with writer Aleš Palán a compelling collage mapping the story of that unique day. It allows contemporary readers to vicariously experience that crucial date and brings to life the legacy of days of revolution and hard-fought freedom.

Petr Schwarz will moderate an evening featuring both the authors and a number of their interviewees.

Václav Havel: The Beggar’s Opera – A Play About Morality and Manipulation

Václav Havel: The Beggar’s Opera – A Play About Morality and Manipulation

  • Where: Václav Havel Library, Ostrovní 13, Prague 110 00
  • When: November 20, 2019, 19:00 – 21:00

Discussion about a new radio recoding (premiered on Czech Radio on 16 November).

Václav Havel wrote his version of The Beggar’s Opera in 1972 after being commissioned by the Činoherní klub theatre, though it was not performed until 1975, when the theatre Divadlo na tahu staged it in Horní Počernice, directed by Andrej Krob. It was filmed by Jiří Menzel in 1971.

The new CD will be presented by actors Jiří Dvořák, Dana Černá and Klára Sedláčková-Oltová, director Lukáš Hlavica and dramaturge Renata Venclová.

Moderated by Robert Tamchyna.

Organised by the Václav Havel Library in cooperation with publishers Radioservis.

Europe 1989–2019: How to Sustain the Path Towards Europe Whole and Free?

Europe 1989–2019: How to Sustain the Path Towards Europe Whole and Free?

  • Where: House of European History, Rue Belliard 135, Brussels
  • When: November 20, 2019, 18:00 – 20:30

Thirty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Velvet Revolution, the conference will summarise and analyse the transformation of Europe achieved so far. The dream of Europe “Whole and Free” seems to be fading away, despite the historic enlargements of NATO and the European Union. Besides Russia’s coercive actions to prevent its neighbours from choosing this vision for themselves, there are new challenges stemming from the EU’s internal developments, including Brexit.

Confirmed guests: Commissioner Věra Jourová, commissioner Frans Timmermans, former Polish Prime Minister and currently MEP Marek Belka, MEPs Alexandr Vondra, Nathalie Loiseau and Michal Šimečka, the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Director Jamie Fly.

Chaired by: Michael Žantovský, Director of Václav Havel Library

Co-organized by the Václav Havel Library, the Czech Embassy in Belgium, the Czech Permanent Representation to the European Union and the Czech Centre in Brussels.

Reflections on a Czech Thirty Years, 1989–2019

Reflections on a Czech Thirty Years, 1989–2019

  • Where: Václav Havel Library, Ostrovní 13, Prague 110 00
  • When: November 21, 2019, 19:00 – 21:00

Thirty years have elapsed since the collapse of communism and Soviet-Russian hegemony in Central Europe and also since the renewal of state sovereignty and democracy in Czechoslovakia, respectively the Czech Republic. Currently, however, we are witnessing in the Central European region (and beyond) uncertainty regarding the functioning of liberal democracy, the process of European integration and the development of Western civilisation, despite the fact that the dialogue-based, reflexive and self-critical West remains quite a decent civilisation. These are some of the reasons for the creation of the publication Nesamozřejmý národ? Reflexe českého třicetiletí 1989–2019 (An Uncertain Nation? Reflections on a Czech Thirty Years, 1989–2019), which attempts to examine our present situation critically and to identify important trends.

It will be discussed by its co-authors: historian and philosopher Petr Hlaváček, journalist Jakub Patočka and historian Petr Placák.

Moderated by Jáchym Topol.

Václav Havel: Protest, Divadlo na tahu

Václav Havel: Protest, Divadlo na tahu

  • Where: Václav Havel Library, Ostrovní 13, Prague 110 00
  • When: November 25, 2019, 19:00 – 21:00

To sign or not to sign? A play about a complicated question and an even more complicated answer. A one-acter on a dilemma that for authors of dramatic works remains a fiendish question.

Times are bad again, with petitions and protests multiplying at home and abroad – but what is the point of them? Do the actions and consciences of politicians influence the will of (certain) citizens? Is that enough? We will remember a lesser-known “Vaněk” play, Václav Havel’s 1978 work Protest.

Performed by the Divadlo na tahu theatre.

Directed by Andrej Krob and featuring Karel Beseda and Radek Bár.

Humour in Revolution

Humour in Revolution

  • Where: Václav Havel Library, Ostrovní 13, Prague 110 00
  • When: November 26, 2019, 19:00 – 21:00

The confirmed guests all boast an original sense of humour: songwriter, lyricist poet and novelist Jiří Dědeček; psychiatrist, journalist and teacher Radkin Honzák; historian and political scientist Petr Koura; actor moderator and co-founder of the Society for a Merrier Present Bára Štěpánová.

Places of Memory: United States

Places of Memory: United States

  • Where: Václav Havel Library, Ostrovní 13, Prague 110 00
  • When: November 27, 2019, 17:00 – 19:00

Slavery, concentration camps for Japanese Americans during WWII, Native Americans… What are the sensitive locations in American history, and how are they served by museums and national parks in the United States today? Can we compare the American approach to its own past to Czech and Russian experiences of coming to terms with totalitarian regimes?

Štěpán Černoušek, chairman of the association will share his experiences of a Fulbright scholarship and study trip around the US, during which he visited 40 institutions focused on the past. The event will also include a projection of photographs from the institutions in question.

Organised in cooperation with the J.W. Fulbright Commission in the CR.

Andrej Bán: The Elephant in Zemplín

Andrej Bán: The Elephant in Zemplín

  • Where: Václav Havel Library, Ostrovní 13, Prague 110 00
  • When: November 27, 2019, 19:00 – 21:00

The face of Slovak society changed utterly in 2018. The murders of journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancée Martina Kušnírová rocked the whole society and connections came to light between the mafia and top politicians. Andrej Bán witnessed all of this at close quarters, just as he did many other important events in Slovakia over the last 30 years.

Bán, a Slovak photographer and reporter mainly focused on war zones, knows his native country like the back of his hand. He has travelled its roads and dusty paths over three decades, during which time he has come to know the Slovak people and their stories. His texts reflect the observant eye of the photographer, while for their part his photographs show the keen eye of an excellent narrator.

The book of reportage Slon na Zemplíně (Elephant in Zemplín), published in Czech on the Absynt imprint this month in a translation by Miroslav Zelinský, is an intimate account of the landscape and people who live their lives way beyond the horizon of general attention. It is a winding journey from east to west, from Čierna nad Tisou to Bratislava, but also a long pilgrimage through time, from Jánošík through Tiso to the ´Ndrangheta and “our people”. Stories include a man who decided to live as one with nature near the village of Sečovce, swindled farmers and the agro-mafia and the Romany man whose torturing to death by the police touches on the Slovak tragedy of the aryanization of Jewish property.

The book is a colourful fresco of tales from the country that is closest to us but also the one we know the least.

Organised in cooperation with the Absynt publishing house on the occasion of the publication of the Czech translation.

On the Dole in 30 Years: Who Will Thrive?

On the Dole in 30 Years: Who Will Thrive?

  • Where: Václav Havel Library, Ostrovní 13, Prague 110 00
  • When: November 28, 2019, 19:00 – 21:00

We dreamt of becoming astronauts, refuse collectors, teachers – but what will our children or grandchildren want to be? How will the labour market look in 10, 20, 30 years? Will we have more free time? What professions will thrive, and are manual and repetitive jobs on the way out? We will search for answers in the company of experts in many fields and in a discussion touching on, among other things, new technology, which will also transform traditional fields such as health care, philosophy and media. How to prepare for the professions of the future will also be explored. Will work opportunities be available to all? And how is Czech education responding to this epoch of rapid change?

Confirmed guests include Vojtěch Hodboď, an expert on artificial intelligence at Charles University and Mikuláš Křen from the company VR_Musashi, which is focused on new technologies in health care, including the treatment of autism through the usage of virtual reality.

Aneta Štokrová will moderate.

Organised by the Václav Havel Library in cooperation with the Faketicky association.

Havel Channel

Ve zkušebním provozu jsme na začátku května 2020 spustili televizní kanál, jehož smyslem je naplňovat poslání Knihovny VH moderními technologiemi, bez ohledu na hranice a nouzové stavy všeho druhu. V tuto chvíli probíhá výběr a testování vhodných formátů. Vzniká rovněž základní programové schéma, jehož páteř budou tvořit debaty, vzdělávací projekty, rozhovory, záznamy akcí a v neposlední řadě archivní záběry s Václavem Havlem. Oficiální spuštění televize je plánováno na září 2020.

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Publications / E-shop

The central focus of the Library’s publishing programme is the life and work of Václav Havel, his family and close collaborators and friends. For clarity, the programme is divided into six series: Václav Havel Library Notebooks, Václav Havel Library Editions, Student Line, Talks from Lány, Václav Havel Documents, Works of Pavel Juráček and Václav Havel Library Conferences. Titles that cannot be incorporated into any of the given series but which are nonetheless important for the Library’s publishing activities are issued independently, outside the series framework.

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Václav Havel European Dialogues

The Václav Havel European Dialogues is an international project that aims to initiate and stimulate a discussion about issues determining the direction of contemporary Europe while referring to the European spiritual legacy of Václav Havel. This idea takes its main inspiration from Václav Havel’s essay “Power of the Powerless”. More than other similarly focused projects, the Václav Havel European Dialogues aims to offer the “powerless” a platform to express themselves and in so doing to boost their position within Europe.

The Václav Havel European Dialogues is planned as a long-term project and involves cooperation with other organisations in various European cities. Individual meetings, which take the form of a conference, are targeted primarily at secondary and third-level students, as well as specialists and members of the public interested in European issues.


Václav Havel Human Rights Prize

The Václav Havel Human Rights Prize is awarded each year by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in partnership with the Václav Havel Library and the Charta 77 Foundation to reward outstanding civil society action in the defence of human rights in Europe and beyond.

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Václav Havel

Václav Havel
* 5. 10. 1936 Praha
† 18. 12. 2011 Hrádeček u Trutnova

Václav Havel grew up
in a well-known, wealthy entrepreneurial
and intellectual family.
Václav Havel completed primary schooling. Because
of his "bourgeois" background, options for
higher education were limited.
Václav Havel worked as a chemical laboratory technician
while attending evening classes at a high school
from which he graduated in 1954.
Václav Havel studied at the
Economics Faculty of the Czech
Technical University in Prague.
Václav Havel began working at Prague's Theatre on
the Balustrade, first as a stagehand and later as
an assistant director and literary manager.
Havel´s first play The Garden
Party was staged at Prague's
Theatre on the Balustrade.
Václav Havel
married Olga
VH finished studies at at the
Theatre Faculty of the Academy of
Performing Arts in Prague .
Václav Havel played an active role in
democratization and renewal of culture during the
era of reforms, known as Prague Spring.
Havel's work were banned in Czechoslovakia. He
moved from Prague to the country, continued
his activities against the Communist regime.
Václav Havel worked as a manual laborer
at a local brewery near Hrádeček in
the north of the Czech Republic.
Václav Havel wrote an open
letter to President Gustav Husak,
criticizing the government.
Václav Havel co-founded the Charter 77
human rights initiative and was one
of its first spokesmen.
Václav Havel co-founded The
Committee for the Defense
of the Unjustly Prosecuted.
Václav Havel was imprisoned several times
for his beliefs, his longest prison
term lasting from 1979 to 1983.
Václav Havel emerged as one of the
leaders of the November opposition movement, also
known as the Velvet Revolution.
Václav Havel is elected
President of Czechoslovakia on
December 29.
Václav Havel is elected, after the
dissolution of Czechoslovakia, the first President
of the Czech Republic.
On January
27, Olga
Havlova died.
Václav Havel married Dagmar Veskrnova,
a popular and acclaimed Czech theatrical,
television and movie actress.
Václav Havel enabled the entry of
the Czech Republic into the North
Atlantic Treat Organisation (NATO).
Václav Havel left office after
his second term as Czech
president ended on 2 February 2003.
Foundation of Václav
Havel Library in
The Czech Republic became the 35th
member State of the Council of
Europe on 30 June 1993.
Václav Havel directed
a film adaptation of
his play Leaving.
Václav Havel died at his
summer house Hrádeček in the
north of the Czech Republic.
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Educational projects


Man of inspiration

This six-part series of educational videos introduces young viewers to the most important events in Czechoslovak history in the second half of the 20th century, with an accent on the human rights struggle. It is presented by singer and TV moderator Emma Smetana and choreographer and producer Yemi. The presenters of the English versions are native speakers.


Year of Revolution

The year of the Velvet Revolution from the perspective of young YouTubers. A series of seven video lessons aimed at elementary and secondary schools mapping the revolutionary year from January to December 1989 and introducing viewers to key moments in totalitarian Czechoslovakia’s transformation into a democratic country.


Read Havel

A collection of short videos in which well-known young people in Czech public life present iconic and lesser-known texts by Václav Havel.


Václav Havel here and now

A travelling series of discussions about VH and more with Michael Žantovský, intended for secondary school students, libraries and arts centres.


Best Student Essay Competition

One of the key genres of Václav Havel’s work is essays – on literary, artistic, social, political, and spiritual topics. His essays, such as the The Power of the Powerless and A Word About Words, have become classic texts of Czech literature; they have been translated into tens of languages, and are among the few truly world-famous works of Czech culture. This is also why it is necessary to keep cultivating the essay genre in the Czech language – not in the sense of imitating Václav Havel’s writing, but in the spirit of his courage to name unpleasant problems and search for unconventional solutions to them. For this reason, the Václav Havel Library is announcing the next year of the literary competition for secondary students: the Václav Havel Library Prize for Best Student Essay.


Václav Havel´s Bookshelves

The Václav Havel Little Libraries are a key new Václav Havel Library project aimed at establishing a nationwide network of elementary and secondary schools that, with the support of the VHL, will spread the legacy of Václav Havel among their pupils and students. The aim of the Little Libraries is to create in schools (on the model of the existing Václav Havel’s Places) book shelves on which the schools will gather both texts by Václav Havel and texts closely linked to him. They may also contain other written materials, audio and video recordings and photographs.


Lets rock!

Are your students (whether at elementary, arts-focused elementary or secondary schools) interested in history? Do you have a theatre or film club at your school, or are you teaching young people who “just” like to act? If so, we cordially invite you to join the Václav Havel Library in celebrating in a creative manner the centenary of the foundation of Czechoslovakia with the theatre-education project Tomorrow!


Guided tour – Havel In A Nutshell

The Václav Havel Library’s permanent exhibition Havel In A Nutshell introduces pupils and students the life of Václav Havel through a collage of photographs and quotations. Touch screens make use of detailed information and sound recordings to place individual chapters – family, theatre, dissent and presidency – in a broad cultural-historical context, while a large interactive map creates a tangible sense of Václav Havel’s global “footsteps”.


Václav Havel – a Czech myth, or Havel in a Nutshell

This interactive workshop lasting for about 180 minutes takes place in the “Havel in a Nutshell” exhibition hall. Primary and secondary school students are divided into groups within which they deal with various “research” projects. Students work with selected texts and are provided with particular books. The workshop is related not only to the teaching of Czech history, but also to personal, literary, artistic and media training, and increasing student’s democratic consciousness as citizens.


Workshop: The Audience

An interactive 90 minutes’ workshop for secondary school’s students deals with Havel´s well known play The Audience.


Workshop: The Life Story of Vaclav Havel

An interactive 90 minutes’ workshop for primary school pupils (6 – 12 years) brings the ideas and work of Václav Havel on human rights and civil society to children through Havel´s book for children Pizh'duks.



Havel in a nutshell

The Václav Havel Library’s permanent exhibition brings Václav Havel’s story to life via a collage of photographs and quotations. Touchscreens place individual chapters of his life in the broader cultural and historical context, while a large-scale interactive map allows visitors to gain a tangible sense of Václav Havel’s global “footsteps”.  


Oldřich Škácha – Occupation 1968

A collection of photographs by Oldřich Škácha from the Václav Havel Library’s collection.


The Faces of Resistance

Pavel Hroch’s online photographic exhibition captures the stories of those who, across several decades of Czechoslovak history, stood up to evil, inhumanity, oppression and coarseness and who at certain moments displayed courage, will to freedom, love of those around them and common sense.


Via the East to the West

In autumn 1989, Prague was flooded with citizens from the German Democratic Republic. For them, the Czechoslovak capital was to be a transfer station on the journey to freedom, to the western part of their country, whose division was symbolised by the Berlin Wall. One of the main reasons for the sudden growth in the number of refugees was the fear that the GDR would close its borders with Czechoslovakia, the only country East German citizens could enter without a visa, ahead of 40th anniversary celebrations of its foundation.


With a Passion for Freedom

Pavel Hroch’s photographs capture the revolutionary period springing from November 1989 as well as the era of transformation, the start of the 1990s, when things happened in Czechoslovakia that had previously been impossible and unimaginable, a period of joy and carnivalesque festivity, a period of visions, hopes and a great and perhaps somewhat naïve belief in the future. Twenty-five years later, the photographs hold a mirror up to the manner in which those dreams and visions have been realised and to where we find ourselves today.



Story of Václav Havel’s final play and first film (1988–2011)


August invasion of Hrádeček

A meeting of the children of dissidents and others who shared recollections of Václav Havel. The exhibition is a colourful collage of photographs, audio recordings – from talks by individual participants on the subject “My life with Václav Havel”, to a concert by Monika Načeva and Michal Pavlíček – and unique archival materials.


Za dobu svého trvání Knihovna Václava Havla připravila a uspořádala desítky výstav. Část z nich – přibližující nejen život a dílo Václava Havla, ale též nejrůznější kulturní, historické a společenské fenomény českých zemí 2. poloviny 20. století – se stala součástí jejího archivu. Nyní bychom je rádi prostřednictvím tohoto digitálního depozitáře nabídli dalším vzdělávacím a kulturním institucím (školám, knihovnám, klubům…) k bezplatnému využití.  

  • 03/09/19 – 30/09/19foyer knihovny Petra Bezruče v Opavě, 1. patro
  • 03/09/19 – 26/10/19Opava, Galerie Hřivnáč
  • 09/2019Štěpánek Netolický House, Třeboň
  • 01/10/19 – 30/10/19
  • 21/10/19 – 31/12/19Městská knihovna, Žamberk
  • 30/10/19 – 30/11/19Kinský Château, Valašské Meziříčí
  • 10/2019Vysoké Mýto
  • 01/11/19 – 31/12/19Městská knihovna Písek
  • 01/11/19 – 30/11/19
  • 01/11/19 – 02/12/19
  • 01/11/19 – 30/11/19
  • 01/11/19 – 29/11/19Městské kulturní středisko, Dobřany
  • 01/11/19 – 30/11/19SSJS, Tábor
  • 01/11/19 – 30/11/19SSJS, Tábor
  • 01/11/19 – 30/11/19Gymnázium a Střední odborná škola ekonomická, Sedlčany
  • 01/11/19 – 30/11/19Gymnázium a Střední odborná škola ekonomická, Sedlčany
  • 01/11/19 – 29/11/19Základní umělecká škola, Teplice
  • 01/11/19 – 30/11/19Střední průmyslová škola na Proseku, Praha
  • 01/11/19 – 30/11/19Střední průmyslová škola na Proseku, Praha
  • 01/11/19 – 31/12/20České centrum v Sofii, Bulharsko
  • 01/11/19 – 02/12/19Pečky
  • 01/11/19 – 29/02/20OA a SOSŽE v Žatci
  • 04/11/19 – 10/01/20Municipal Library, Ústí nad Orlicí
  • 10/11/19 – 17/11/19Pětašedesátka, Úvaly
  • 11/11/19 – 08/12/19
  • 11/11/19 – 29/11/19Střední škola letecké a výpočetní techniky, Odolena Voda
  • 11/11/19 – 30/06/20Gymnázuim, základní škola a mateřská škola Hello, Ostrava
  • 11/11/19 – 30/11/19ZŠ a MŠ Velký Újezd
  • 14/11/19 – 19/11/19SŠŽTS, Šumperk
  • 15/11/19 – 01/02/201st International School of Ostrava
  • 15/11/19 – 30/11/19Nadační fond ZUŠ Alfréda Radoka, Valašské Meziříčí
  • 17/11/19
  • 17/11/19TJ Sokol, Brozany
  • 11/2019
  • 11/2019
  • 03/01/20 – 21/01/201. Základní škola Hořovice
  • 01/2020Gymnázium Jana Palacha, Mělník
  • 01/2020
  • 01/2020 – 02/2020
  • 02/03/20 – 30/09/20SPŠ akademika Heyrovského, Ostrava
  • 02/03/20 – 23/03/20Gymnázium Jana Keplera, Praha
  • 02/03/20 – 31/03/201st International School of Ostrava
  • 02/03/20 – 20/03/20
  • 24/03/20 – 30/04/20Gymnázium Jana Keplera, Praha
  • 01/09/20 – 31/10/20Městská knihovna Ústí nad Orlicí
  • 01/09/20 – 30/09/20
  • 01/11/20 – 31/12/20
  • 02/11/20 – 02/12/202.11. – 2. 12. 2020
  • 12/11/20 – 01/12/20
  • 01/11/21 – 30/01/22
  • 30/11/21 – 05/01/22










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Archive / Documentation centre / Research projects

Dokumentační centrum

The Václav Havel Library is gradually gathering, digitizing, and making accessible written materials, photographs, sound recordings and other materials linked to the person of Václav Havel.

  • 52968 records in total
  • 15303 of events in the VH's life
  • 2994 of VH's texts
  • 2086 of photos 
  • 280of videos
  • 558of audios
  • 6523of letters
  • 14722of texts about VH
  • 6627 of books
  • 27210of bibliography records

Access to the database of the VHL’s archives is free and possible after registering as a user. Accessing archival materials that exist in an unreadable form is only possible at the reading room of the Václav Havel Library, Ostrovní 13, 110 00 Prague 1, every Tuesday (except state holidays) from 9:00 to 17:00, or by prior appointment.

We will be glad to answer your queries at


Vladimir Hanzel's revolution

Collage of recollections, images and sound recordings from Vladimír Hanzel, President Václav Havel’s personal secretary, bringing the feverish atmosphere of the Velvet Revolution to life.


Václav Havel Interviews

A database of all accessible interviews given to print media outlets by the dramatist, writer and political activist Václav Havel between the 1960s and 1989. The resulting collection documents the extraordinary life story of an individual, as well as capturing a specific picture of modern Czechoslovak history at a time when being a free-thinker was more likely to lead to jail than an official public post.


Pavel Juráček Archive

The Pavel Juráček Archive arose in February 2014 when his son Marek Juráček handed over six banana boxes and a typewriter case from his father’s estate to the Václav Havel Library. Thousands of pages of manuscripts, typescripts, photographs, documents and personal and official correspondence are gradually being classified and digitalised. The result of this work should be not only to map the life and work of one of the key figures of the New Wave of Czechoslovak film in the 1960s, but also to make his literary works accessible in the book series The Works of Pavel Juráček.

The aim of the Václav Havel Library is to ensure that Pavel Juráček finds a place in the broader cultural consciousness and to notionally build on the deep friendship he shared with Václav Havel. Soon after Juráček’s death in 1989 Havel said of him: “Pavel was a friend of mine whom I liked very much. He was one of the most sensitive and gentle people I have known – that’s why I cannot write more about him.”  

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All about Library

The Václav Havel Library collects, researches, disseminates, promotes and advocates the spiritual, literary and political legacy of a great figure of modern Czech history - the author, playwright, thinker, human rights defender and Czechoslovak and Czech president. It also focuses on people, events and phenomena related to the legacy of Václav Havel and strives to place them in the context of the times and of the present.

From August 2014, the Václav Havel Library is located at the address Ostrovní 13, Prague 1. The building’s ground-floor spaces is dedicated to an exhibition "Václav Havel or Havel in a nutshell" and used for VHL club events – all kinds of seminars, readings, exhibitions, lectures, concerts and theatre performances. The Library’s offices, archive, constantly expanding library, and reading room are located on the first floor.

The main aims of the Václav Havel Library include

  • Organizing archival, archival-research, documentary, museum and library activities focused on the work of Vaclav Havel and documents or objects related to his activities, and carries out professional analysis of their influence on the life and self-reflection of society
  • Serving, in a suitable manner, such as through exhibitions, the purpose of education and popularisation functions, thus presenting to the public the historical significance of the fight for human rights and freedoms in the totalitarian period and the formation of civil society during the establishment of democracy
  • Organizing scientific research and publication activities in its areas of interest
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Staňte se členy Klubu přátel Knihovny Václava Havla

„Domnívám se, že se nám daří naplňovat vizi Václava Havla, jenž při založení Knihovny prohlásil, že má smysl jedině jako živoucí organismus, který zaujímá své nepřehlédnutelné místo v celku veřejného a politického života. Vnímáme to jako závazek a inspiraci do budoucna. Rádi bychom využili záznamů ze stovek našich akcí ve vlastním kanálu internetové televize, rozšířili publikační program, připravili další e-learningové série, začali pořádat workshopy pro učitele… To vše si však vyžádá nemalé finanční prostředky. Proto jsme se rozhodli obrátit na naše návštěvníky a příznivce s prosbou o podporu.“ – Michael Žantovský

Pomozte nám inspirovat své okolí i Vy!
Přijdete se k nám a staňte se členem Klubu přátel Knihovny VH!


Podpořte nás


200 KČ / měsíc

Váš příspěvek nám pomůže s organizací pravidelných akcí pro veřejnost.


1200 KČ / měsíc

Váš příspěvek nám pomůže rozvíjet náš ediční plán a publikační činnost


? Kontaktujte nás
pro další informace

Váš příspěvek nám pomůže s vývojem vzdělávacích miniserií, audivizuálních projektů, přípravou mezinárodních konferencí...

Support us

Financial donations

If you would like to support the work of the Václav Havel Library or its specific activities or projects by means of a financial donation you can do so via the VHL’s PayPal account

Or by bank transfer to:

ČSOB a. s., Na Poříčí 24, 115 20 Praha 1

  • Crown account number 7077 7077 / 0300 CZK
  • Euro account number 7755 7755 / 0300 EUR
  • Dollar account number 7747 7747 / 0300 USD

If an individual makes a donation of over CZK 1,000, or if a company makes a donation of over CZK 2,000, in one calendar year we will create for you a donation contract confirming the amount of the donation involved; the donor can use this to reduce their tax base in compliance with the law on taxation. For more information, contact us.

Donors with US citizenship can support us through the Vaclav Havel Library Foundation New York.

Donations and loans to the VHL archive

The Václav Havel Library administers an archive of written materials, documents, photographs, video recordings and other materials related to the life and work of Václav Havel. The archive is predominantly digital in form. If you or somebody close to you is the owner of original texts, photographs, speeches or other works produced by Václav Havel we would appreciate it greatly if you contacted us. We will oversee the digitalisation of these documents and place them in our digital archive. If you would like to keep possession of such documents or items, we will return them in perfect condition.  

If a copy or original is donated to the Václav Havel Library, the terms of donation and use will in all cases be agreed with the owner. The names of all donors or owners will be listed alongside the documentary materials in question.


We offer short and long-term internships at the Václav Havel Library to Czech and foreign students. Interns are particularly welcomed in the fields of library studies and archival science, arts management, journalism, Czech Studies and other areas of the humanities.

We welcome knowledge of English (German and French are also a plus), while knowledge of Czech is an advantage for foreign interns.

Internships range in duration from six weeks to one year, while it is possible to agree on individual duration depending on the requirements of schools. On completion of the internship, the participant receives a certificate with an appraisal. Internships take place on the basis of prior agreement with applicants and dates must be agreed around two months in advance. Václav Havel Library internships are unpaid and we do not cover transport or accommodation costs.

If you are interested in an internship at the Václav Havel Library, contact us at the email address:

Media and promotion cooperation with the VHL

The Václav Havel Library welcomes the mutual exchange of links and the publication of our banners and information about our events. For more information, contact us directly.


The Václav Havel Library welcomes volunteers who would like to assist in our work.  

Bakala PhilanthropyRockefeller Brothers FundJan BartaAsiana GroupMoneta Money BankThe Vaclav Havel Library FoundationNadace Charty 77Sekyra FoudationVŠEMRicohP3chemTechsoup ČRNewton MediaHlavní město PrahaMinisterstvo kultury ČRMinisterstvo zahraničních věcí ČRUS EmbassyStátní fond kultury