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Wenceslas Square
Photo: Daniel Antal (Flickr); Licence: CC BY 2.0
 
On Prague's famous Wenceslas Square during the Velvet Revolution of November 1989

 

In the third part of our mini series commemorating the 25th anniversary of the fall of communism in many parts of Central and Southeastern Europe, Kamila Kubásková, a recent graduate, currently based in Munich, shares her experiences of growing up in the Czech Republic.

It must have been wonderful to have been living in Czechoslovakia in November 1989. Although I belong to the lucky ones who never had to put up with communist rule, I could not particularly enjoy the events of the year, as I was a baby with entirely apolitical interests. But I can vividly imagine the atmosphere of the day. I can feel the excitement, the air of anticipation and expectation. I picture people all over the country waiting impatiently for news from the capital, trying to comprehend what was happening and knowing that everything in their lives was about to change. The revolution was a peaceful event that filled the people with euphoria and, for the first time in many decades, with hope for a better future.

My parents could not join the spontaneous celebrations that were happening in the streets, because they had to look after me and my older brother. However, the knowledge that their children would grow up with the freedom to travel, study and live without constant fear of their own government, was satisfying enough for them. Parents of our generation also knew that our lives will be very different to their own and they would not always be able to prepare for all the choices that would lie ahead of us.

Published in Under Eastern Eyes
640px-Havla 1989
Photo: MD (Wikimedia Commons); Licence: CC BY-SA 3.0
 
Demonstrators during the Velvet Revolution in 1989

 

As a way of marking the 25th anniversary of the fall of communism in many parts of Central and Southeastern Europe, E&M asked young people from some of the countries involved to tell us what the anniversary means to them. First up is Timea Szilvássy, who lives in Bratislava and was a year and a half old when the Velvet Revolution took place.

To understand how much the post-communist countries have changed, one must recall how they started out. Recall, what freedom meant at that time and how has it changed over the last 25 years.

Our parents and grandparents might talk about the fragility of freedom, about how distant and unclear the term could be in their lives and how far away we are from that perception nowadays. Back then, propagandists of the state told the people what to think, the secret police watched basically everyone and put regime critics behind bars. Only dreams stayed safe, but it was better to not dream big, but rather to stay dutiful so as to lead a convenient life of sorts.

Something changed a quarter of a century ago. Thousands of people took the risk and stood out from the line. They exposed themselves and their families to high risks, sometimes even imprisonment. But the power of those people as well as similar actions all over Europe made a non-violent transition possible, overthrowing the communist leaders. At that time democracy and prosperity seemed to be just around the corner. In Czechoslovakia, it led to the country's first non-communist government in more than four decades. And the transition was just the beginning. On New Year's Day 2015 Slovakia will celebrate its 22st anniversary as an independent nation.

Published in Under Eastern Eyes
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