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Three candidates shortlisted for the 2023 Václav Havel Prize  05/09/23

The selection panel of the Václav Havel Human Rights Prize, which rewards outstanding civil society action in defence of human rights in Europe and beyond, has today announced the shortlist for the 2023 Award. Meeting in Prague today, the panel – made up of independent figures from the world of human rights and chaired by the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) Tiny Kox – decided to shortlist the following three nominees, in alphabetical order: More

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Three candidates shortlisted for the 2022 Václav Havel Human Rights Prize  06/09/22

The discussion among the seven-member jury helmed by the president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe centred on the importance of the issue of human rights during this tense period. The finalists include Vladimir Kara-Murza, a political prisoner and leading Russian democracy campaigner; Ukraine’s 5 AM Coalition, which gathers evidence of human rights abuses stemming from Russia’s invasion of the country; and Hungary’s Rainbow Coalition defending LGBTQIA+ rights. “This year’s selection reflects the central role that human rights play in the current European crisis,” says Michael Žantovský, jury member and executive director of the Václav Havel Library, which bestows the prize in cooperation with the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and Nadace Charty 77.

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The Other Europe  27/04/22

Dear Friends, After three years we have completed the international project The Other Europe, during which, in cooperation with partner institutions, we have processed and made public recordings of interviews shot in 1987 and 1988 behind the Iron Curtain, and in exile, with important representatives of the opposition and the arts, as well as random citizens. Over those three years we have prepared video, audio and text of 106 interviews in speakers’ native languages and English translation. Despite public health restrictions in the Covid period, we have jointly prepared 16 international conferences and public presentations in six Central and Eastern European states. More

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From Schuman to Havel – what next?  16/02/22

The Václav Havel Library is a proud partner of the project Beyond Robert Schuman’s Europe More

Program for February 2023<>

entry-free

Břetislav Štorm: Knights, Dragons and Pilgrims

Břetislav Štorm: Knights, Dragons and Pilgrims

  • Where: Václav Havel Library, Ostrovní 13, Prague 110 00
  • When: February 2, 2023, 19:00 – 21:00

Evening in tribute to a major figure in Czech 20th-century culture, Břetislav Štorm (1907–1961), who was an architect, fine artist, book designer, prose writer, heraldry expert, liturgist, journalist and founder of Czech monument care. The event is being held in connection with the publication of an extensive anthology of his work entitled Rytíři, draci a poutníci (Knights, Dragons and Pilgrims). Štorm was a frequent collaborator of publisher Ladislav Kuncíř and was a good friend of Karel Schwarzenberg. The evening will be helmed by the collection’s editor, Jan Šulc, with the main part dedicated to a projection of unique photographs of Štorm’s visual art taken by his grandson František Štorm.

Debate N: What Should State Media Policy Be?

Debate N: What Should State Media Policy Be?

  • Where: Václav Havel Library, Ostrovní 13, Prague 110 00
  • When: February 7, 2023, 19:00 – 21:00

There is growing discussion of how, and whether at all, the state ought to influence the media sphere. An amendment to the copyright law and a mooted government plan to support the media and combat disinformation have recently stirred up emotions. What should the rules guaranteeing independence and enabling media development be?

Debate with Respekt

Debate with Respekt

  • Where: Václav Havel Library, Ostrovní 13, Prague 110 00
  • When: February 14, 2023, 19:00 – 21:00

Discussion involving editors from the weekly Respekt and their guests. For more details and the names of guests visit www.vaclavhavel.cz prior to the event.

Keep This Letter as a Memory of Me

Keep This Letter as a Memory of Me

  • Where: Václav Havel Library, Ostrovní 13, Prague 110 00
  • When: February 15, 2023, 18:00 – 20:00

In Nazi Germany nearly 900 Czechoslovaks were executed by the guillotine in Dresden alone between 1939 and 1945. Most of them had actively stood up to the German occupation. Tento dopis si nechte na památku na mě (Keep This Letter as a Memory of Me) is a bilingual Czech-German critical edition containing biographies of those sentenced to death and around 100 letters that they were able to send to relatives. The book and the circumstances of its creation will be discussed by the author of the original study, the historian Pavla Plachá, and Birgit Sack, historian and director of the Dresden Memorial, and relatives of the victims.

Introduced by Jiří Fiedor, director of the Pulchra publishing house.

Organised by the VHL in cooperation with the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes.

A Century of Czech(oslovak)-Albanian Relations

A Century of Czech(oslovak)-Albanian Relations

  • Where: Václav Havel Library, Ostrovní 13, Prague 110 00
  • When: February 16, 2023, 19:00 – 21:00

Little attention is devoted to historical and contemporary Czech-Albanian relations in Czech public discourse or academic research. The recently published volume from Adrian Brisku (ed.) Sto let česko(slovensko)-albánských vztahů: Vzájemné sympatie a rostoucí interakce (A Century of Czech(oslovak)-Albanian Relations: Mutual Sympathy and Growing Interaction) (Karolinum, 2022) offers an opportunity for debate between historians from both countries, Afrim Krasniqi, Ladislav Hladký and Adrian Brisku, as well as diplomats: Albania’s ambassador to the Czech Republic HE Ilirian Kuka and a Czech deputy minister of foreign affairs (name to be confirmed). Moderated by historian Kateřina Králová.

The Free Academy: Alice Koubová

The Free Academy: Alice Koubová

  • Where: Václav Havel Library, Ostrovní 13, Prague 110 00
  • When: February 20, 2023, 19:00 – 21:00

Resilience Between Trauma and Burnout

The term “resilience” is used in connection with the need to face up to, go through and process the crises that we experience at the level of individual lives, society and also the socio-environmental system. It is valuable for many reasons, both practical and theoretical. However, it contains a hidden risk. This makes attempts to analyse and interpret it more closely even more attractive.

Echo from the Library

Echo from the Library

  • Where: Václav Havel Library, Ostrovní 13, Prague 110 00
  • When: February 21, 2023, 19:00 – 21:00

Debate series of editors from the weekly Echo and their guests in cooperation with the Václav Havel Library. Dalibor Balšínek will chair the discussion. For the topic and the names of guests visit www.vaclavhavel.cz prior to the event.

A Message from Ukraine

A Message from Ukraine

  • Where: Václav Havel Library, Ostrovní 13, Prague 110 00
  • When: February 24, 2023, 19:00 – 21:00

Since 24 February 2022 Ukraine has been facing Russian aggression – and since the very start of the war Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, has been informing the world of the brave efforts of the country’s defenders. The book A Message from Ukraine delivers a collection of the president’s war-time speeches. Zelensky himself selected them for the book and wrote a powerful introduction reflecting on what he has learned about both himself and Ukraine since the start of the invasion. The book will be discussed by its Czech translator Viktor Janiš, Rita Kindlerová and others.

Tainted Democracy in Hungary

Tainted Democracy in Hungary

  • Where: Václav Havel Library, Ostrovní 13, Prague 110 00
  • When: February 27, 2023, 19:00 – 21:00

Zsuzsanna Szelényi is a Hungarian foreign policy specialist and former politician, director at the Democracy Institute Leadership Academy of the Central European University. In the 1990s, she was an activist and member of parliament for Fidesz, then a liberal anti-Communist party. After working at the Council of Europe for fifteen years, she returned to politics representing the liberal opposition 'Together party' until 2018. (Zsuzsanna was a recipient of a Europe’s Future fellowship from the IWM and Richard von Weizsäcker fellowship from the Robert Bosch Academy.)”

The discussion around her recently published book 'Tainted Democracy, Viktor Orbán and the Subversion of Hungary' will reflect on how Orbán consolidated his grip on power, what is the impact on its neighbours and Europe and the lessons to be drawn from the Hungarian experience.

Moderated by Anna Urbanová.

The discussion will be in English.

Sorbian Lusatia – Reflection of the Czech Soul and Laudable Czech Foreign Policy Goal

Sorbian Lusatia – Reflection of the Czech Soul and Laudable Czech Foreign Policy Goal

  • Where: Václav Havel Library, Ostrovní 13, Prague 110 00
  • When: February 28, 2023, 19:00 – 21:00

Lusatia is home to the smallest Slavic nation, the Lusatian Sorbs, and is also one of the historical lands of the Czech crown. That is why the Czechs have always been intensely interested in Lusatia. For that matter, they like to affirm that Lusatia should have become part of their country when it was established. However, this is not a relationship burdened by the past, but a strong coexistence of two peoples, which is still active, albeit with the bigger one having little awareness of it. What are the lives of Lusatian Sorbs in Germany like? What have Czechs done for them since 1989? And did you know that Václav Havel was only the second foreign head of state to officially meet with politicians from Sorbian Lusatia?

These questions and more will be answered by the organiser of the Havel meeting, poet Milan Hrabal, the ethnologist Leoš Šatava, who lived in Sorbian Lusatia for several years, and guests from Sorbian Lusatia.

Lukáš Novosad, a Tydeník Echo editor, will moderate.

Havel Channel

Havel Channel je audiovizuální projekt Knihovny Václava Havla, jehož cílem je šířit myšlenkový, literární a politický odkaz Václava Havla, bez ohledu na vzdálenost, zeměpisné hranice či nouzové stavy. Jeho páteř tvoří debaty, vzdělávací projekty a rozhovory. Velký prostor je věnován též konferencím, autorským čtením, záznamům divadelních inscenací a koncertům. Audiovizuální projekt Knihovny Václava Havla Havel Channel se uskutečňuje díky laskavé podpoře Karel Komárek Family Foundation.

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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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Conferences & prizes

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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.

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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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Havel - Albright Transatlantic Dialogues

Since the first Václav Havel Transatlantic Dialogues at GLOBSEC and FORUM 2000 conferences last year, we have lost another stalwart advocate of the transatlantic bond and of the need to face threats to democracy and international order together on both sides of the Atlantic, the former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. In view of the close bond between Václav Havel and Madeleine Albright and, after Havel's death, between the Secretary and the Library, the Václav Havel Library, with the approval of Madeleine Albright's family, renamed and rebranded the program as The Havel-Albright Transatlantic Dialogues (HATD), after the two major figures with roots in Central Europe who have personified the bond. Together, Václav Havel and Madeleine Albright symbolize the transatlantic relationship and the fundamental values underpinning it perhaps better than any other two people in recent history. The upcoming Dialogues “The Indispensable Woman: The Legacy of Madeleine K. Albright”, at the FORUM 2000 conference on September 1, and at the “Havel and our Crisis” conference at Colby College, ME, on September 28, will thus become venues for a well-deserved tribute to the pair we all respected and admired.

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Václav Havel

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

1936
Foto
Václav Havel grew up
in a well-known, wealthy entrepreneurial
and intellectual family.
1951
Foto
Václav Havel completed primary schooling. Because
of his "bourgeois" background, options for
higher education were limited.
1951
Foto
Václav Havel worked as a chemical laboratory technician
while attending evening classes at a high school
from which he graduated in 1954.
1955
Foto
Václav Havel studied at the
Economics Faculty of the Czech
Technical University in Prague.
1960
Foto
Václav Havel began working at Prague's Theatre on
the Balustrade, first as a stagehand and later as
an assistant director and literary manager.
1963
Foto
Havel´s first play The Garden
Party was staged at Prague's
Theatre on the Balustrade.
1964
Foto
Václav Havel
married Olga
Splichalova.
1966
Foto
VH finished studies at at the
Theatre Faculty of the Academy of
Performing Arts in Prague .
1968
Foto
Václav Havel played an active role in
democratization and renewal of culture during the
era of reforms, known as Prague Spring.
1969
Foto
Havel's work were banned in Czechoslovakia. He
moved from Prague to the country, continued
his activities against the Communist regime.
1974
Foto
Václav Havel worked as a manual laborer
at a local brewery near Hrádeček in
the north of the Czech Republic.
1975
Foto
Václav Havel wrote an open
letter to President Gustav Husak,
criticizing the government.
1977
Foto
Václav Havel co-founded the Charter 77
human rights initiative and was one
of its first spokesmen.
1978
Foto
Václav Havel co-founded The
Committee for the Defense
of the Unjustly Prosecuted.
1979
Foto
Václav Havel was imprisoned several times
for his beliefs, his longest prison
term lasting from 1979 to 1983.
1989
Foto
Václav Havel emerged as one of the
leaders of the November opposition movement, also
known as the Velvet Revolution.
1990
Foto
Václav Havel is elected
President of Czechoslovakia on
December 29.
1993
Foto
Václav Havel is elected, after the
dissolution of Czechoslovakia, the first President
of the Czech Republic.
1996
Foto
On January
27, Olga
Havlova died.
1997
Foto
Václav Havel married Dagmar Veskrnova,
a popular and acclaimed Czech theatrical,
television and movie actress.
1999
Foto
Václav Havel enabled the entry of
the Czech Republic into the North
Atlantic Treat Organisation (NATO).
2003
Foto
Václav Havel left office after
his second term as Czech
president ended on 2 February 2003.
2004
Foto
Foundation of Václav
Havel Library in
Prague.
2004
Foto
The Czech Republic became the 35th
member State of the Council of
Europe on 30 June 1993.
2010
Foto
Václav Havel directed
a film adaptation of
his play Leaving.
2011
Foto
Václav Havel died at his
summer house Hrádeček in the
north of the Czech Republic.
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Educational projects

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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.

  • 71392 records in total
  • 28314 of events in the VH's life
  • 2831 of VH's texts
  • 2125 of photos 
  • 403of videos
  • 568of audios
  • 6598of letters
  • 15101of texts about VH
  • 8278 of books
  • 40860of 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 archiv@vaclavhavel-library.org.

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Havel in a nutshell

The virtual exhibition Václav Havel in a Nutshell places the life story of Václav Havel in the broader cultural and historic context in four chronologically distinct chapters with rich visual accompaniment. The exhibition is supplemented by the interactive map Flying the World with Václav Havel, which captures in physical form Havel’s global “footprint”.

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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.

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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.

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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 works to preserve the legacy of Václav Havel, literary, theatrical and also political, in particular his struggle for freedom, democracy and the defence of human rights. It supports research and education on the life, values and times of Václav Havel as well as the enduring significance of his ideas for both the present and future.

The Václav Havel Library also strives to develop civil society and active civic life, serving as a platform for discussion on issues related to the support and defence of liberty and democracy, both in the Czech Republic and internationally.

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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Podpořte nás

We are well aware that freedom and democracy must be nurtured. Here at Ostrovní 13, but also on the audiovisual platform Havel Channel, we strive to do so through our own educational programmes, talks, discussion meetings, books, exhibitions, concerts, theatre performances. We honour Václav Havel's legacy and wish that the Library be a living organism and open to all. That is why our programme is free of charge for everyone. This would not be possible without regular financial support from our supporters. Become one of them...
Václav Havel

Support us with a financial donation

Does our work make sense to you and do you want to support the activities of the Vaclav Havel Library?

You can easily make a one-time payment by scanning the QR code.

Would you like to contribute regularly? Then we invite you to become a member of the Friends of the Vaclav Havel Library Club. What are the benefits of membership? Find out more.

Help us expand the archive

The Vaclav Havel Library manages an archive of writings, documents, photographs, video recordings and other materials related to the life and work of Vaclav Havel. This archive is predominantly in digital form. If you or someone close to you owns any original texts, correspondence, photographs, speeches or any other work by Vaclav Havel, we would be grateful if you could contact us.

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Supporting a specific charitable or public benefit organization whose activities you appreciate or have been supporting for a long time is also possible through a will. This form of donation is quite common abroad, but in the Czech Republic this tradition is only just taking root.

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At the Vaclav Havel Library, we uphold a transparent, responsible and ethical way of dealing with all those who contribute to fulfilling our purpose and implementing our strategy. Our code of ethics summarizes the basic rules of donations.

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