Independence Day 2018 and 2019
Independence Day in Czech Republic falls on 28 October and is a public holiday across the nation to celebrate the day in 1918 that independence was declared from the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
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The Hapsburg Austro-Hungarian Empire controlled the region up until the end of World War I, but there were movements for greater Czech autonomy many years prior to the collapse of Austria-Hungary at the close of the war.
Czech exile Tomas Masaryk led an independence movement operating outside Austria-Hungary during World War I, and in 1916, began the Czechoslovak National Council. In January of 1918, the movement spread to the Czech homeland itself, and resistance forces began withholding food shipments to the war front that went to Austrian soldiers. Because much of Austria’s grain was produced in the region, it was a significant threat. Finally, on 28 October 1918, still two weeks before the war ended, independence was declared in Wenceslas Square in Prague, and a new nation emerged from the crumbling Austrio-Hungarian Empire.
October 28 later became the date of other important national events, like the student-led protests against the Nazi occupation in 1939, and it became associated with the Velvet Revolution of 1989 that led to the collapse of Communist rule. Thus, it has developed into a day of general Czech patriotism rather than a celebration only of independence from Austria-Hungary after World War I.