“In Honour of the Jan Palach” Sculpture
Všetaty, Nedomická street
“Mrs Palachová had the gravestone engraved with her son’s name in order to place the urn with the ashes of Jan Palach on the family grave in the Všetaty cinerarium. However, before she could place it there, the undertaker told her about his worries over its possible theft.”
From the StB report on placement of the urn with the ashes of Jan Palach in Všetaty, 10 April 1974 (ABS)
From 1974 to 1990, after removal of the Olšany grave, the urn with the ashes of Jan Palach was placed in the Všetaty cinerarium. The family grave thus became a meeting place for people who wanted to pay their respect to Jan Palach. Moreover, it was an intended destination of the national pilgrimage organized in January 1989 by Charter 77 and other opposition movements, which was blocked by the security forces.
The Society of Jan Palach claims credit for unveiling his plaque in the Všetaty cinerarium in 1992 and a monumental sculpture called “In Honour of Jan Palach” two years later. The sculpture was created by academic sculptor František Janda (born in 1931) according to his design from January 1969. The monument should have originally stood on the site where Jan Palach set himself on fire. Undergraduates backed the project and, together with František Janda, they vainly asked President Ludvík Svoboda for his support. After 1989, the author planned to place the monument in the Faculty of Pharmacy of Charles University in Hradec Králové.
František Janda named the individual aluminium statues “Flame”, “Grief”, and “Victim”. “Grief” symbolizes the misery of Jan Palach’s mother. Palach’s death mask made by Olbram Zoubek was used for the “Victim” statue. “Flame” represents the true philosophical essence of Palach’s act. The base is inscribed with the following quote from the ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu: “To bear the country's misfortunes, is to be the king of the world.”
Unfortunately, two of the three statues were stolen in 2007 and 2011 and only one of them remains. František Janda created another monument to Jan Palach that was unveiled on 18 January 2001 in Brussels.