November 17 is International Students Day. On this day, we honour the valour of the many Prague students who bravely fought for their country’s honour and the right to higher education. Nazi authorities detained nine demonstrators in 1939, executed them without a trial, and interned more than 1,200 students. Many people died. The International Student Day honours their selflessness. Although we currently seem to be on completely different planets, many nations continue to strive for the freedom to peaceful protest and education. When Adolf Hitler assumed power in 1933, the Third Reich aggressively asserted its claims over areas outside of German territory. In 1938, the Nazis annexed Hitler’s native Austria for the first time. They then made Czechoslovakia cede some of its regions. Germany’s occupation of the Czech provinces led to the division of Slovakia into a satellite state. Charles University in Prague’s Medical Faculty students staged a protest in 1939 to mark the creation of the independent Czechoslovak Republic. The Nazis brutally dispersed the crowd, killing student Jan Opletal as a result. At his funeral procession, which drew tens of thousands of students, an anti-Nazi protest was held. In response, the Nazis closed down all educational institutions in the Czech Republic. They detained more than 1,200 kids and sent them to internment camps in a terrible act of savage force. The worst, though, was yet to come. The Nazis arrested nine demonstrators on November 17 and executed them without a trial. According to historians, the Third Reich permitted the funeral march because they foresaw a potentially violent consequence. It would give the regime the justification it needed to shut down all Czech universities, dealing a devastating blow to academic and student activists’ attempts to rise up in rebellion.
International Students’ Day, observed on November 17, honour the valour displayed by student activists during the Nazi invasion of the University of Prague in 1939. The International Students’ Council in London hosted the first commemoration in 1941. There, students established the annual International Students’ Day, which falls on November 17. Edu world considers this day as a struggle for freedom and democracy day.