A new memorial is opening to a university student who burned himself to death in protest at the 1968 Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia.

Jan Palach's childhood home in Vsetaty, north of Prague, has been turned into a chapel-like space to allow visitors to contemplate what he did for the nation. An adjacent pavilion contains a small museum.

The newly opened memorial to Jan Palach in Vsetaty, Czech Republic. Photo / AP
The newly opened memorial to Jan Palach in Vsetaty, Czech Republic. Photo / AP

The 20-year-old set himself on fire five months after the Warsaw Pact countries crushed liberal reforms known as the Prague Spring. He died three days later.

Palach's self-immolation shocked the country but failed to produce an immediate impact. The hard-line communist regime established after the invasion harshly persecuted dissenters.

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Jan Palach's childhood home in Vsetaty, north of Prague has been turned into a chapel-like space. Photo / AP
Jan Palach's childhood home in Vsetaty, north of Prague has been turned into a chapel-like space. Photo / AP

But his action on Jan. 16, 1969, did inspire week long protests two decades later, and the Velvet Revolution led by Vaclav Havel later in 1989 that ended Czechoslovakia's communist era.

The memorial itself is a strange and disorientating building is fittingly full of Kafkaesque angles and angles.

The fittingly Kafkaesque space is now a national monument to the student martyr. Photo / AP
The fittingly Kafkaesque space is now a national monument to the student martyr. Photo / AP

Prague in particular is famous for its street sculptures and monuments to dissident voices.

David Černý who is perhaps the most famous of Czech sculptors and rebellious artists inspired by Palach. He famously painted the Soviet T-34 Tank which was left as a monument in Prague bright pink.

Hanging Man, one of David Cerny's rebellious sculptures. Photo / CC
Hanging Man, one of David Cerny's rebellious sculptures. Photo / CC

His work can be seen dotted around Prague, including a high-up hanging man over a back street of the Prague old town and two sculptures 'relieving themselves' in front of the Franz Kafka museum.

The Palach memorial is a fittingly sombre and disorientating Czech monument to the student who inspired generations.