An Exhibition at Comenius University on the Candle Manifestation

On 26 March 2018, Comenius University in Bratislava and the Nation's Memory Institute opened the “Candle Manifestation 25 March 1988” exhibition on the occasion of its 30th anniversary. Sixteen panels in both Slovak and English, which are located in the pillared hall of the historical building of Comenius University, document the preparation and the development of the demonstration. The panels also contain rich photo documentation.

28. 03. 2018 09.19 hod.
By: CU Public Relations Office

It captures not only the manifestation itself and the brutal intervention of the security forces, but also the broader social context in that time. The exhibition is approaching the socio-political relations in Czechoslovakia in the second half of the 1980s and the persecutions of the Communist regime against the Catholic church. Special panels are devoted to the activities of foreign Slovaks or to the activities of the secret church as a dominant part of the dissident movement in Slovakia. Visitors can learn about the notable figures and people organizing the manifestation as well as the leaders of the communist regime which sought to suppress the Candle Manifestation movement. Other interesting parts of the exhibition include the reactions of the regime after the manifestation was officially announced, responses to the manifestation both in Czechoslovakia and abroad, and a historiographical look at the events that took place.

The exhibition was opened by Comenius University Rector, Professor Karol Mičieta: “I am very glad that our university can be a witness to such a form of documentation of this event as well as a way of remembering the courage of people who took part. I am sure that it will be an opportunity for the broader academic community and the student body to learn about what happened thirty years ago.”

Gathered guests were also addressed by the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Nation’s Memory Institute, Dr Andrea Kluknavská: “I am very glad that here today at Comenius University we can open an exhibition which will appeal to students and help them realize that fighting for freedom and a civic society is always essential and under any circumstances, because the freedom we enjoy today was not always a given.”

One of the organizers of the Candle Manifestation, Dr Ján Čarnogurský, pointed out that the exhibition would help people understand how different social conditions were then and today. “The Candle Manifestation was the first mass manifestation against the regime after 19 years. It broke a sort of barrier of resistance to the regime and prepared the ground for the following demonstrations in the country in October 1988, in January 1989, and November 1989,” he added.