Jan Zajíc - was born June 3, 1950 in Vitkova, the second son of Marta and
Jaroslav Zajic. His mother taught Czech and other subjects at a local
elementary school and his father was a druggist. His other two siblings, an
older brother and a sister five years younger, were named after their parents.
Jan Zajic grew up in the town where he was born, where he also attended
elementary school. In 1965 he was accepted at the Railroad Engineering
Secondary School in Sumperk.
Although a student art a technically-oriented school, he devoted more and more
time to reading fine literature. He also began to write poetry. Zajic very
much welcomed the social events of 1968. He took part in many meeetings
and he spoke at gatherings; he was one of the most active in the discussions.
After the August 1968 invasion by Warsaw Pact troops he had only words of
condemnation. He regreted that the army didn't fight and wanted to register
for the militia.
When he learned of Palach's self-immolation in mid-January 1969, he said at
school that he was sick and was going home. He traveled to Prague, however,
where he took part in the protest hunger strike at the statue of St. Wenceslas
that lasted until Palach's funeral. There he also met Oldrich Vit, a student
at Hus Seminary, a later recipient of one of Zajic's farewell letters.
The decision to become Palach's successor took shape in Jan Zajic during
February. He didn't keep his intentions secret from his friends in any way,
though no one believed the seriousness of his intent.
On the morning of February 25, 1969 Jan Zajic left Sumperk for Prague. He
brought with him a suitcase, in which he had several letters and an appeal to
the citizens of Czechoslovakia, meant for copying and stenciling. He was
accompanied by three classmates from Sumperk.
In Prague he bought acid, several bottles of benzine cleaner and paste for
floors, with which he spread over his whole body in a lavatory. He handed his
friends the stencil as well as the messages for Oldrich Vit and said good-bye
Around 1:30 in the afternoon he walked into the passageway of the building at
No. 39 on Wenceslas Square. There he drank the acid down and poured the cleaning fluid over himself and lit himself on fire. He wasn't able to run out of the
passage, however, and he fell after a few steps and died there.
Jan wished for his funeral to be held in Prague. This was prevented by the
security service, however. Jan Zajic was therefore buried in Vitkova on March
2. On his final journey, thousands of people came to see him off.
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