A photograph taken during the unveiling of the Jan Palach Memorial in August 1978. (Source: Live Torches book)
Velehrad House. The Jan Palach Memorial is situated to the left of the entrance. (Source: Velehrad)
The Jan Palach Memorial in London (Source: Velehrad)
Front page of Velehradský z(s)pravodaj of January 2009 (Source: Velehrad)
A photograph of the floodlit memorial in London, 19 January 2009.  (Photographed by Jan Jůn)

The Jan Palach Memorial

London, 22 Ladbroke Square

“Had Jan Palach asked us whether he should proceed with his decision, we would have firmly answered: NO! A man is not allowed to end his life. However, since he carried out his intention, we, as Christians, do not condemn him, but rather try to see and recognize the motives which made him do so...”

Jan Lang, August 1978

On the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the August occupation of Czechoslovakia, a Jan Palach Memorial was unveiled in London. Since August 1978, it has been located on the Velehrad House, a Czech and Slovak community centre founded in 1964. The memorial was created at the request of Jesuit Father Jan Lang (1919-2007). Many expatriates and British politicians attended the ceremonial unveiling.

The plain relief showing a man on fire was created by the Czech artist František Bělský (1921-2000), who was a member of the Czechoslovak Foreign Army in France and Great Britain during the period of the Nazi occupation. When the war ended, he returned to Czechoslovakia, but after February 1948, he left for Great Britain again. Regular commemoration ceremonies take place at the Jan Palach Memorial.

Palach’s deed also provoked other responses in Great Britain. For example, an exile press agency, Palach Press Limited, managed by Jan Kavan, was active in London between 1974 and 1990.