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If I consider myself to be a European, it does not mean at all I cease being a Czech. It is really the other way round. As a Czech, I am also a European. Somewhat poetically I say that Europe is the mother of all fatherlands Václav Havel, A Speech to the European Parliament, November 11, 2009

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Club / News / Program

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THE WINNER OF THE 2018 VÁCLAV HAVEL HUMAN RIGHTS PRIZE  08/10/18

Today, on Monday 8 October, 2018, Oyub Titiev was ceremonially announced as laureate of the 2018 Václav Havel Human Rights Prize at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg. The award is presented by the Council of Europe in cooperation with the Václav Havel Library and the Charter 77 Foundation. For more information about the Prize visit us here.

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The Unbearable Lightness of Evil – registration open!  30/08/18

Dear friends, please allow us to inform you that we have just launched registration for the sixth annual conference in honour of the laureate of the Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize, which is entitled The Unbearable Lightness of Evil, and the subsequent concert A Tribute to the Brave. You will find more information here.

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Three candidates shortlisted for the 2018 Václav Havel Prize  28/08/18

The selection panel of the Václav Havel Human Rights Prize, comprising independent figures from the world of human rights and chaired by the President of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) Liliane Maury Pasquier, drew up the shortlist of candidatures in Prague today. The shortlisted nominees, in alphabetical order, are: More

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Have a great summer!  02/07/18

Dear visitors, though our club programme ended over a week ago, we’re still here for you: From Tuesday to Friday you can visit our permanent exhibition Havel in a Nutshell (always from 12:00 to 17:00) and, in the case of prior agreement, also our reading room. At any time you can access our digital archive and YouTube channel, where you will find close to 900 videos from our events… Have a wonderful summer and see you again in September!

Program for May 2019<>

Miloš Doležal: Protectorate Stories

Miloš Doležal: Protectorate Stories

  • Where: Václav Havel Library, Ostrovní 13, Prague 110 00
  • When: May 2, 2019, 19:00 – 21:00

(Three documentary short stories from the Protectorate)

How do people respond in intense situations? What are the consequences of collaborating with occupiers or doing a deal with the devil? Our modern history isn’t solely paved with heroism, sacrifice and principle but also with personal failure, betrayal and collaboration. Three faces, three Czech stories: Gestapo officer Felkl from Bělá, parachutist Čurda from Hlína and Gestapo informer Bušta from Cerekev.

Presentation of the new book by Miloš Doležal. Also appearing will be psychologist Daniel Štrobl, who has worked with the Centre for Stress Research and been on a number of army missions.

Hynek Chmelař will read excerpts from the book.

Charta 77 – Three Generations of Opposition: Reflections on Totalitarianism

Charta 77 – Three Generations of Opposition: Reflections on Totalitarianism

  • Where: Václav Havel Library, Ostrovní 13, Prague 110 00
  • When: May 6, 2019, 19:00 – 21:00

The impact of Charter 77 and other opposition groups on the pre-Velvet Revolution regime in our country is well-known. However, the fates of many signatories are less familiar. What did signing the Charter mean under totalitarianism? And does being active in the opposition remain an obligation?

Jan Souček (1899–1983), a sociologist, psychologist and philosopher, taught at apartment seminars and was involved in organising “Patočka’s flying university.” His life and activities will be discussed by historian Prokop Tomek from the Military History Institute.

Also due to speak is writer Petr Koudelka, who will introduce his book Peříčka, peříčka (Feathers, Feathers), which was written without hope of publication in 1988. In the grotesque novel the author reflects on 20 years in the “grey zone” of socialist normalisation.

The youngest generation will be represented by Charter signatory Karel Koutský, the grandson of Jan Souček, who attended unauthorised concerts and demonstrations and distributed the underground publications Vokno and Informace o Charta. He was also a student at apartment seminars given by, among others, Radim Palouš, Oto Mádr and Josef Zvěřina. Today he is a photographer, the founder of Ateliér Fotorenesance and a publisher.

The evening will begin with a screening of a “from the vaults” 1970s Televizní kulturní revue documentary, entitled Petr Koudelka’s “Steps”, and a projection of photographs by Karel Koutský that evoke the period from the 1980s to the present day.

The discussion will also feature underground Roman Catholic priest Ladislav Heryán, who will in addition play guitar. Ota Lébr will perform on violin.

Hosted by Prokop Tomek.

Civic (Dis)Obedience Across the Generations

Civic (Dis)Obedience Across the Generations

  • Where: Václav Havel Library, Ostrovní 13, Prague 110 00
  • When: May 7, 2019, 17:00 – 19:00

What forms can civic engagement take? How are Czechs when it comes to getting involved in making changes? Is active citizenship a regular part of life here, or is it instead viewed as something suspicious?

Engagement in the public arena as one element of active citizenship will be discussed by dissident and Charter 77 spokesperson Dana Němcová, People in Need director Šimon Pánek, Scout Institute director Miloš Říha and the Czech spokesperson for Fridays for Future, the secondary school pupils’ climate campaign, Petr Doubravský.

The discussion will be chaired by Martin Churavý.

During the debate there will be a projection of selected photographs from demonstrations and happenings in the Czech Republic and abroad by Petr (Zewlakk) Vrabec.

Organised in cooperation with the Good Will Committee – Olga Havlová Foundation.

Josef Rauvolf – Ginsberg’s Wanderings Behind the Iron Curtain

Josef Rauvolf – Ginsberg’s Wanderings Behind the Iron Curtain

  • Where: Václav Havel Library, Ostrovní 13, Prague 110 00
  • When: May 7, 2019, 20:00 – 22:00

Allen Ginsberg was not only an outstanding poet but also a keen traveller. On his wanderings he got to know the entire world and countless noteworthy people, as well as finding a great deal of inspiration. The trips he took in 1965, when he visited in succession Cuba, Czechoslovakia, the Soviet Union and Poland – when he was expelled from both Castro’s Havana and Prague – undoubtedly meant a lot to him. As was his habit throughout his life, Ginsberg kept a diary on his travels. These have been published as Iron Curtain Diaries and have just come out in Czech.

The translator Josef Rauvolf, an expert on and personal friend of Ginsberg’s, will discuss the book’s contents.

Serhiy Zhadan – How to Write About War Today

Serhiy Zhadan – How to Write About War Today

  • Where: Václav Havel Library, Ostrovní 13, Prague 110 00
  • When: May 9, 2019, 19:00 – 21:00

War is above all a political, social and security matter. However, it is also a subject that resonates deeply in culture, particularly in literature. Unlike Ernest Hemingway, for instance, the most famous Ukrainian writer Serhiy Zhadan has never fought. However, he was been visiting the front regularly since 2014 as a humanitarian volunteer. War has left a deep imprint on his intimate poetry and socially-conscious prose. The hero of his most recent novel Boarding School, a teacher from a small town in the Donbass, where the army of a foreign state arrives unexpectedly, experiences war.

Discussing how contemporary literature reflects the theme of war will be Zhadan and the journalist and Radio Free Europe contributor Igor Pomerancev.

The evening will conclude with a theatrical rendition by Brno’s Agadir Theatre of Music and Poetry of poems from Zhadan’s collection The History of Culture at the Beginning of This Century, translated by Alexej Sevruk.

The event will take place in Ukrainian. Interpretation into Czech will be provided.

The VH Library at Book World Prague

The VH Library at Book World Prague

  • Where: Book World, Výstaviště, Holešovice, Prague
  • When: May 10, 2019, 10:00 – May 11, 2019, 16:00

Friday 10 May 2019

10.00 Professional forum / Václav Havel: It’s Worth Doing!

Ceremonial presentation of Václav Havel: Má to smysl! (Václav Havel: It’s Worth Doing!), a book of interviews with Václav Havel conducted by journalists from around the world between 1964 and 1989. Its editors, Anna Freimanová and Tereza Johanidesová, will be in attendance. The event will also include readings from the 1987 one-act play The Pig, or Václav Havel´s Hunt for a Pig.

Saturday 11 May 2019

11.00 Cooking the Books in the foyer / Wild Boar on Venison, or Cooking With Václav Havel

Presentation of Kančí na dančím aneb Kuchařka Václava Havla (Wild Boar on Venison, or Cooking With Václav Havel), a book of recipes associated with Václav Havel, whether in the role of diner or highly idiosyncratic cook. The title will be introduced by Michael Žantovský. Come savour the aromas and tastes!

15.00  Literary hall / Václav Havel and Film

Launch of Václav Havel a film (Václav Havel and Film), a collection of film reviews, essays and screenplays written by Václav Havel in the years 1957–1989. Editors Jan Bernard and Anna Freimanová will take part. The event will take place in cooperation with the National Film Archive.

American Spring at the Václav Havel Library: Philip Roth – Great American Storyteller

American Spring at the Václav Havel Library: Philip Roth – Great American Storyteller

  • Where: Václav Havel Library, Ostrovní 13, Prague 110 00
  • When: May 15, 2019, 19:00 – 21:00

On May 22 a year will have passed since the death of Philip Roth (born 1933), one of the most important post-war US novelists. His life and extensive oeuvre, his close relationship to Czechoslovakia and more will be discussed by Hana Ulmanová, an expert on modern American literature, Jiří Hanuš, translator of 12 Roth novels, Ivan Klíma, who was friendly with Roth from the early 1960s on and Irena Pavlásková, who is directing an adaptation of Roth’s novel The Prague Orgy.

Moderated by Jan Zelenka.

Organised by the Václav Havel Library in cooperation with the American Spring festival.

The Vaclav Havel European Dialogues: The EU between Yesterday and Tomorrow

The Vaclav Havel European Dialogues: The EU between Yesterday and Tomorrow

  • Where: DOX Centre for Contemporary Art
  • When: May 20, 2019, 12:30 – 20:00

In the year of the 15th anniversary of the Czech Republic’s accession to the EU, and just four days before key elections to the European Parliament, we will evaluate together the Czech Republic in the European Union and the European Union in the Czech Republic, while at the same time looking to the future, mainly through the eyes of the young people whose lives will be influenced by the EU.

Registration

12.30–13.00 Registration

13.00–13.15 Introduction

Michael Žantovský (Vaclav Havel Library), Dana Kovaříková (European Commission Representation)

13.15–13.35 A performance by Bohdan Bláhovec on the theme of “The EU between Yesterday and Tomorrow”; musical accompaniment by Jakub Cermaque

13.35–14.50 Panel I.: EU – A Matter of Love or Marriage of Convenience

In his address at the European Parliament back in 1994, Václav Havel said that having studied the Maastricht Treaty and other documents on which the EU is based, the appeal was to his reason, not to his heart. Prior to accession to the EU, a considerable part of the population was influenced by the euphoria from “returning to the West”. In the 2003 referendum, 77% of people voted for to join. Can we say now, 15 years later, that the citizens’ hearts burn for the EU? How are we experiencing European identity today? Isn’t it just a marriage of convenience, stripped of all emotion? Where can the EU’s positive ‘charisma’ be found, especially for young people?

Věra Jourová (European Commission)
Lenka Zlámalová (Echo24)
Martin Povejšil (Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
Pavel Rychetský (Constitutional Court of the Czech Republic)

Speaker: Jiří Hošek (Seznam TV)

14.50–15.10 Coffee Break

15.10–16.25 Panel II: Central Europe in the EU and the EU in Central Europe

In some respects, Central Europe has been living through the European identity crisis in recent years. Efforts appear to turn the wheel of the pro-western direction towards the East. What is causing this crisis, and how is it manifested in individual countries of the region? And how is the EU perceived by young active people who are engaged in civic life and are trying to struggle against the other direction? Could the approaching European elections indicate a positive turning point?

Jan Spiewak (Wolne Miasto Warszawa association)
Karolína Farská (Iniciativa za Slušné Slovensko initiative)
Karoly Nagy (Youth organisation of the Momentum party)
Václav Němec (philosopher, pedagogue)

Speaker: Michael Žantovský (Václav Havel Library)

16.25–16.45 Coffee Break

16.45–18.00 Panel III: The Millennials and the Future of the EU

For young people, the EU is an obvious part of their life. How do they view it, and how do they see its future? How do they perceive the approaching European elections? Are they pro-European by rule of thumb? What can they do so that other countries do not follow the example of Great Britain? What specific steps and recommendations do young people have for the EU and their peers?

Kovy (youtuber)
Jaroslav Miller (Principal of Palacký University in Olomouc)
Barbora Kollárová (finalist in the essay contest of the Václav Havel Library)
Vojtěch Dyk (singer)

Speaker: Zuzana Tvarůžková (Czech TV)

18.00–18.15 Closing Remarks

Tomáš Petříček (Minister of Foreign Affairs)

18.45–20.00 Music programme: The Odd Gifts

The whole conference will be simultaneously translated between English and Czech languages.

Migration in the Eyes of Africa

Migration in the Eyes of Africa

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

Stage reading and debate with Sédjro Giovanni Hounsou, a Beninese playwright and recipient of the RFI Prix Théâtre 2018.

Nothing’s Land is a play about rage, youth, conscience and hope. After several years abroad Malik opts to throw himself under a train rather than die of shame because he has returned home empty-handed. (Translation by Michal and Matylda Lázňovský; stage reading directed by Jiří Hajdyla).

Sédjro Giovanni Hounsou (born 1987), a Beninese playwright and initiator of a platform for other young Beninese artists, has been focused on theatre since the age of 16. He took social studies at university. His first play, 7 Billion Neighbours, was written in 2012 and became the most performed play in Benin.

Afterwards those in attendance are invited to a tasting of culinary specialities organised by the Alliance of Beninese Citizens in the CR.

Interpretation into Czech provided.

The evening takes place as part of the 15th edition of the festival Creative Africa, or We Are All Africans www.tvurci-afrika.simplesite.com

The Republic Awaits Us, or Where Is My Home

The Republic Awaits Us, or Where Is My Home

  • Where: Václav Havel Library, Ostrovní 13, Prague 110 00
  • When: May 22, 2019, 19:00 – 21:00

Young performers employing music, dance and playful staging ideas will dazzle the audience with their energy. This show by students and graduates of the Na Popelce arts-focused school in Prague 5 began as a school production within a Václav Havel Library project centred on the 100th anniversary of the country’s foundation and inspired by Václav Havel’s play Tomorrow.

Scenario and direction L. Tretiagová, musical collaboration M. Drdová, motion collaboration D. Králík, D. Ryska, L. Tretiagová and collective. Performing, dancing and singing A. Tretiagová, D. Králík, V. Gajdoš, A. Hodková, O. Zavřel, M. Kučera, J. Kozáková, R. Žižková, V. Budinská, O. Stanzin, V. Bárta, K. Klibková, B. Vondráčková, M. Mihalčiková, T. Solarová, J. Podhorská, E. Vorlová, A. Solar, E. Pušová, C. Hodek.

Quo Vadis, Visegrad?

Quo Vadis, Visegrad?

  • Where: Václav Havel Library, Ostrovní 13, Prague 110 00
  • When: May 23, 2019, 18:00 – 21:00

What ideas, frames of mind and visions circulate among the Visegrad Four countries? Is there something unique to Visegrad? Is there a unique perception of this space? Which issues connect Czechs, Slovaks, Poles and Hungarians today, and which ones divide them? These and other questions will be addressed by leading intellectuals from the four states in a debate chaired by Michael Žantovský.

Speakers: 
Wojciech Przybylski is the editor-in-chief of Visegrad Insight and chairman of Res Publica Foundation in Warsaw
Gábor Berczeli - Acting Director Robert Schuman Institute, Budapešť
Ivan Gabal is a sociologist and a security expert. From 2013 to 2017 he was a Member of the Parliament of the Czech Republic

The discussion is part of the project Our.Future: Visegrad 2025, which is aimed at sparking domestic and international dialogue on possible future scenarios for the development of the V4 countries.

The debate will take place in English without interpretation.

The event is organised in cooperation with the Strategic Policy Institute (Bratislava) and the Centre for Security Analysis and Prevention (Prague). The project is supported financially by the International Visegrad Fund.

A Hundred Student (R)Evolutions

A Hundred Student (R)Evolutions

  • Where: Václav Havel Library, Ostrovní 13, Prague 110 00
  • When: May 24, 2019, 09:00 – 17:00

It is exactly 30 years since the Velvet Revolution. While the “big history” of 1989 has for the most part been examined by historians, the post-revolution lives of those who set the events of that time in train are generally unknown. Now, however, they are at the centre of an oral history project by the Institute for Contemporary History at the Czech Academy of Sciences entitled 1989 University Students in the Long-Term Perspective: Biographical Stories 20 Years Later.

What are they doing today? How do they view the world around them? And has their personal experience of the Velvet Revolution helped shape this outlook? These questions and more will be answered by the authors of the forthcoming book Sto studentských (r)evolucí (A Hundred Student (R)Evolutions) (Academia, 2019), which follows on from the very successful Sto studentských revolucí (A Hundred Student Revolutions) (Nakladatelství Lidové noviny 1999 and Karolinum 2019).

The conference has been organised by the Institute for Contemporary History at the Czech Academy of Sciences in cooperation with the Václav Havel Library, the Faculty of Humanitarian Studies at Charles University and the Oral History-Contemporary History centre at the university’s Faculty of Social Sciences.

Registration: https://1url.cz/@soudobedejiny

American Spring at the Václav Havel Library: NATO – How it Was Back Then

American Spring at the Václav Havel Library: NATO – How it Was Back Then

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

A return to the hectic days of the Czech Republic’s adolescence organised on the eve of celebrations of the 20th anniversary of the Czech Republic’s acceptance into NATO. This gathering of representatives of the Czech Republic and the US will lift the curtain on preparations for accession.

Debate participants: Petr Bísek, publisher of newspaper Americké listy in 1990–2010, Karel Kovanda, the first Czech ambassador to NATO in 1998–2005, Julie Stejskalová, CTK correspondent in the US 1996–1998, and Alexandr Vondra, Czech ambassador to Washington in 1997–2001.

Organised by the Václav Havel Library in cooperation with the American Spring festival.

Karel Hvížďala: The Exile Astronomical Clock

Karel Hvížďala: The Exile Astronomical Clock

  • Where: Václav Havel Library, Ostrovní 13, Prague 110 00
  • When: May 28, 2019, 17:00 – 19:00

Exilový Orloj (The Exile Astronomical Clock) is a book of memoires that loosely follows on from Karel Hvížďala’s two collections of essays Osmý den týdne (The Eighth Day of the Week) and Dobře mrtvý dědeček (Well Dead Grandpa). The trio of highly personal testimonies showcase distinctive recollections that reveal connections between the author’s childhood years and the present, contain admissions of his own naivety and weakness and reflect with compassion on his friends’ motivations and actions.

The astronomical clock of the title refers to the companions with whom Hvížďa shared the exile’s lot, in particular his peers Václav Bělohradský, Jiří Gruša, Antonín Brousek, Karel Kryl and Karol Sidon, and from the older generation Milan Kundera, Arnošt Lustig and Josef Škvorecký.

The book will be “baptised” by Radkin Honzák, Karol E. Sidon and Jan Kerhart. Jiří Lábus will read excerpts while Dáša Vokatá and Oldřich Kaiser will provide musical accompaniment and Renata Klusáková will moderate.

Organised by the Václav Havel Library in cooperation with publishers Novela bohemica.

Civics Teaching

Civics Teaching

  • Where: Václav Havel Library, Ostrovní 13, Prague 110 00
  • When: May 28, 2019, 20:00 – 22:00

Increasing numbers of organisations are highlighting the fact that civics teaching in the Czech Republic is a systematic problem that is having a deep impact on the behaviour of society. Unfortunately, many people do not understand the system in which they live. Distrust and scepticism then have a direct impact on election results and the degree to which we are influenced by fake news and populist campaigning.

Speakers: Karel Strachota (People in Need), Radim Štěrba (Faculty of Education, Masaryk University), representative of the Civics Commission at the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, Jaroslav Poláček (TOPAZ).

Debate chaired by Jiří Kozák, director of CEVRO.

Organised by the Václav Havel Library in cooperation with the TOPAZ think tank.

American Spring at the Václav Havel Library: Voice of America and its Czech Voice from Vienna

American Spring at the Václav Havel Library: Voice of America and its Czech Voice from Vienna

  • Where: Václav Havel Library, Ostrovní 13, Prague 110 00
  • When: May 29, 2019, 19:00 – 21:00

Voice of America in the context of the bipolar world is the theme of the gathering held in connection with an exhibition dedicated to Ivan Medek, who was for many years a correspondent and contributor with Radio Free Europe, the BBC and other outlets.

The programme is linked to a repeat of an exhibition entitled Ivan Medek: A Sincerely Honest Gentleman, which the National Museum created in 2015 to mark the 90th anniversary of his birth. The exhibition can be viewed from 1.5 to 31.5 at the Church of St. Wenceslas in Smíchov.

Taking part in this discussion with historian Prokop Tomek will be one-time colleagues of Medek’s: Libor Rouček, who was later a deputy chairman of the European Parliament, and Jolyon Naegele, a former Voice of America and Radio Free Europe journalist.

Journalist Petr Brod will moderate.

Organised by the Václav Havel Library in cooperation with the American Spring festival.

Timothy Snyder: The Road to Unfreedom

Timothy Snyder: The Road to Unfreedom

  • Where: Václav Havel Library, Ostrovní 13, Prague 110 00
  • When: May 30, 2019, 19:00 – 21:00

A debate about the US historian’s latest book

Liberal democracy has not been the outright winner of the Cold War and the declared end of history never came to pass. Vladimir Putin has reinforced his position of power and fascist ideas about the need for a strong hand are once more beginning to resonate.

Russia is waging a cyber war on Europe and the US and using new allies among nationalists, radicals and oligarchs to undermine the trustworthiness of democratic institutions. This current trend has resulted in Brexit, Donald Trump, the general rise of populism and the increasingly palpable vulnerability of Western society.

Drawing on broad research and his observations of recent events in Russia, Ukraine, the US and Europe, Snyder points to the essence of the threat. He highlights the benefits of traditional politics and explores which of the choices on offer we ought to choose: equality or oligarchy, individualism or totalitarianism, truth or lies. The book is a compelling account of the rise of authoritarianism and delves behind the headlines to offer a way out of widespread uncertainty.

Timothy Snyder’s The Road to Unfreedom, which is just being published in Czech by the Paseka and Prostor publishing houses, will be discussed by historians David Svoboda and Petr Hlaváček, teacher and politician Alexandr Vondra and translator Martin Pokorný.

Chaired by Václav Havel Library director Michael Žantovský.

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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

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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.

Illustration

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

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

Illustration

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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”.

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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.

Exhibitions

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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”.  

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Oldřich Škácha – Occupation 1968

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Leaving

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

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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.

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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.

  • 50587 records in total
  • 15290 of events in the VH's life
  • 2994 of VH's texts
  • 1784 of photos 
  • 275 of videos
  • 555 of audios
  • 5625 of letters
  • 14718 of texts about VH
  • 5451 of books
  • 15274 of 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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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 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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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.

Internships

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.

Volunteers

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