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On Saturday, November 22nd, Vaclav Havel was written into the history of Slovakia. That day the Slovak National Theater presented his new play Odchazeni (Leaving). Havel’s last plays were introduced in Slovakia more than 40 years ago. The theater also could have been the first place in the world to introduce this play, but ultimately it was premiered in Prague first. Havel’s play was also unique in a way since the author started writing it before the Velvet Revolution in 1989, but completing it just last year (2007). Odchazeni was not only interesting for its creative development throughout Havel’s life, its own story with a political focus, but also the circumstances under which it was presented to the public.
Almost two weeks ago, the Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg presented sixteen individuals and three organizations with the Gratias Agit award in appreciation of promoting the Czech Republic abroad. The award was given in a form of a crystal globe. One of the recipients was Paul Rausnitz, a Czech citizen living abroad but always proud of his country.
Paul Rausnitz was only 11 years old when he was put in prison in Ostrava, North-East of the Czech Republic. It was right after the occupation of the Sudetenland in 1938 by Germans. Then he was thrown to Poland, where he was waiting, along with his parents and two brothers, for visas to America. During that time the war broke out and instead of traveling to the United States, he continued to move the opposite direction – to the Eastern part of Poland.
It has been 40 years since Russians occupied Czechoslovakia (last Russian soldier left in June 1991) and started a 20-year long repression. Prague was the main target for this attack since it was a center of political happenings. About 160,000 soldiers entered our country on August 21st, 1968 with about 6,300 tanks. Approximately 80 people died during the first days of occupation and hundreds were injured. The harm to our nation can be still seen today.