The Jan Palach Memorial
“The commentary which is assigned to the memorial in the form of a book or a plate describing the background of the deed is very telling. The Swiss say that Jan Palach sacrificed his life not only for his fellow citizens and their freedom, but also for the freedom of Swiss citizens, for whom freedom is so dear. After several debates, Mr Knobloch, an artist, created a form resembling a flame. Some consider it a peace dove. However, I think that it was thought to be a flame. Jan Palach’s head is at the bottom side.”
Jaroslav Havelka, a representative of the Beseda Slovan association, at the meeting of expatriates in Geneva on 17 November 2007 (Radio Prague: Radio Praha - Český rozhlas 7)
In Switzerland, Jan Palach’s deed also provoked great response as a numerous Czech and Slovak community had lived there for many years. The community increased mainly at the end of the 1960s after the occupation of Czechoslovakia. One of the generous people who helped the refugees in Switzerland to find a new home was an ophthalmologist Madeleine Andrée Cuendet (1918-2004).
Thanks to her, the Jan Palach Memorial was unveiled in Vevey in 1997. The memorial was created by Milan Knobloch, Master of Fine Arts, and the holder of an award (* 1921). Members of two societies (Beseda Slovan from Geneva and the Jan Palach and Jan Zajíc Club from Zurych) also contributed to the construction of the memorial situated on the shores of Lake Geneva. Every year, commemorative ceremonies take place at the memorial.
At the pedestal of the memorial there is a quotation in Czech and French by Václav Havel stating: “Jan Palach’s sacrifice was a call to look for ways to freedom”. There is also a board describing Jan Palach’s deed in French.