Vaclav Havel, hero of Czechoslovakia’s ‘Velvet Revoluation, dies
December 19, 2011 by staff
Vaclav Havel, hero of Czechoslovakia’s ‘Velvet Revoluation, dies, The end of Czechoslovakia’s totalitarian regime was called the Velvet Revolution because of how smooth the transition seemed: Communism dead in a matter of weeks, without a shot fired. But for Vaclav Havel, it was a moment he helped pay for with decades of suffering and struggle.
The dissident playwright spent years in jail but never lost his defiance, or his eloquence, and the government’s attempts to crush his will ended up expanding his influence. He became a source of inspiration to Czechs, and to all of Eastern Europe. He went from prisoner to president in 1989, the year the Berlin Wall fell and communism crumbled across the region.
Havel died Sunday morning at his weekend home in the northern Czech Republic. The 75-year-old former chain-smoker had a history of chronic respiratory problems dating back to his time in prison.
Shy and bookish, with a wispy mustache and unkempt hair, Havel helped draw the world’s attention to the anger and frustration spilling over behind the Iron Curtain. While he was president, the Czech Republic split from Slovakia, but it also made dramatic gains in economic might.
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