Scholar Interviews

Why is the 28th of January remarkable?


On the 28th of January, there were other articles that mentioned Charter 77 or didn't mention Charter 77 in the run-up to this. But, on the 28th of January, a quite remarkable event took place at the National Theater in Prague. Eight hundred Czech and Slovak artistic and cultural luminaries, um, came to the National Theater, this grand, gilded room inside the National Theater. And they were given many, many speeches and they were told— essentially told, to sign a proclamation which is my document.

Many of the people had not had their literary works or their artistic works published or displayed in years and this was widely seen as a chance for them to get back into the good graces of the regime. Many of them I think just took it as another one of the sort of daily humiliations that they have to do to stay on the government’s good side. This was being broadcast live on Czechoslovak television so the entire nation could see people like Jan Verik who was the grand old man of Czech theater showing up. And many of them when they showed up tried to hide their faces. They were clearly ashamed and they clearly knew what was going to happen and this proclamation was then read and the 800 signatures were collected. They gathered about 7,500 signatures over the course of those two weeks.

How to Cite

Bradley Abrams, interview, "Why is the 28th of January remarkable?" Making the History of 1989, Item #626, (accessed September 15 2019, 4:14 pm).