"Dissidence from Hus to Havel" - Part II

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    The Lutheran Journal, Vol. 60, #2, 1991 - Erwin Weber

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In the last issue of the journal, the lives of numerous reformers who were active centuries before Martin Luther arrived on the scene were discussed. Foremost among them was John Hus, who became president of the University of Prague, and began preaching in the Czech language at Bethlehem Church in Prague.

This article focuses on the history of Bethlehem Church and the fate of John Hus and his friend and co-worker Jerome of Prague. They were denounced as heretics and burned at the stake. For the last 1,000 years, the Czechs have been dominated by ruthless rulers who have exploited the people throughout the ages, be it the Roman Catholic Church, the Habsburgs, the Germans under the Nazis, of the Russians from the end of World War II until the peaceful revolution of the Czechs in 1989. Each era has produced countless dissidents who opposed the oppressive regimes and sought reform. Most of them were silenced by imprisonment and execution. However, there is one Czech dissident who rose from imprisonment to the presidency of Czechoslovakia. He is the playwright-patriot and poet, Vaclav Havel. I photographed Havel during ceremonies held at Hradcany Castle in Prague on one of his return trips. He and some of his aids are dressed in blue jeans and tennis shoes.