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Monday, 4 December, 2023
17November 1939

Nazis kill nine and send 1,200 Czech students to concentration camps

On this day, the Nazi authorities occupying Czechoslovakia clamped down hard on student protests, executing nine students and sending 1,200 to concentration camps.

The peaceful protests were triggered by the funeral of Jan Opletal, who was shot whilst attending an anti-Nazi rally during Czechoslovak declaration of Independence Day at the end of October. Jan Opletal later died of his injuries. His funeral was an opportunity to remember his sacrifice, and for supporters of the anti-Nazi movement to gather.

On 16th November, Reichsprotektor Konstantin von Neurath had flown to Berlin to confer with Hitler about what course of action to take. Hitler authorised the execution without trial of protest leaders, and made it a policy to fire into even small gatherings.

If there were any further demonstrations, Hitler promised to “flatten” Prague.

The Nazis executed nine student leaders, and sent most of the captured 1,200 students to Sachsenhausen concentration camp. The Nazi’s also closed all universities.

After the war, 17th November became a day to remember the killing and imprisonment of the students. It has now became known as International Students’ Day and is celebrated across the world.

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