So today’s post was supposed to be my customary mix of amusing photos and ironic comments poking fun at Christmas markets. However, instead Girl In Czechland would like to say farewell to “Czech hero” * Vaclav Havel, who has just passed away. No one individual was responsible for overthrowing the Czechoslovak Communist regime but Havel played a major role in leading Czechs towards and during freedom.
He wrote plays too. Lots of them. Some of them are quite good.
What was most fascinating to me as an outsider was how humble Havel appeared to be: a rare thing indeed in any politician, let alone a national leader. Humility can be feigned of course but it seemed genuine. I greatly enjoyed watching Citizen Havel, a fly on the wall documentary of his first few years in office after the Velvet Revolution. The viewer is rewarded with intriguing glimpses of life behind the scenes at the Castle. Like Klaus getting in a sulk because Havel doesn’t immediately invite him along when Bill Clinton’s due to play the saxophone at a club in Prague.
Poor Klaus. If he’s mourned at an international level it will be only as the man who stole that other guy’s pen.
Back to Havel. I know he wasn’t universally admired among Czechs and it certainly isn’t up to me as a foreigner to judge the success or failure of his two terms as president.
However, even a cynic like me can’t help but wish that more of those in power who strive to make truth and love triumph over hate and lies.
*Havel was described as a “Czech hero” in the headline on the Guardian website when it reported on his death.