Famous people

Jan Zajíc

Jan Zajíc, the native of Vítkov, born on 3rd July 1950 in the family of a chemist and a teacher, immolated himself in Prague on 25th February 1969, in protest at the occupation of Czechoslovakia by the troops of Warsaw Treaty and also in protest of communists victory in February 1948.

Jan Zajíc

At the time, he was a 19 year-old student of the college of railway engineering in Šumperk. During his studies, Jan was keen on literature and poetry; he even attempted to write poetry himself. As a second in order, he followed the act of Jan Palach, lighting a life torch to express the necessity to protect the people against apathy, defeatism and acceptance of collaboration. After Jan Palach immolated self, Zajíc held a protest hunger strike until the day of Palach's funeral. About a month later, disappointed by continuing normalization as well as the fact that Palach's act did not result in a longer-lasting reaction in the society, he decided to follow Palach. Zajíc immolated self in the passageway of the house no. 39 in the upper part of St. Wenceslas's Square in Prague around half past two p.m. and he died on the spot.

Messages about Zajíc's death were arriving to his native Vítkov randomly; even so, they caused a public emotion. The remains of Jan Zajíc were transported to Vítkov and the coffin was displayed in the entrance hall of the Elementary School in Opavská Street. Zajíc's schoolmates kept guard of honour by his coffin where the condolence lists were displayed as well.

Crowds of people were coming to honour Jan's memory showing their deepest compassion.

On 2nd March 1969, a procession through the town attended by several thousands of people was held. Afterwards, Zajíc was buried at the town cemetery in Vítkov.

The tombstone of Zajíc's grave, a work of academic sculptor Olbram Zoubek, in its today's shape, was revealed after 1989. The sculptor himself did not approve the events of years 1968 and 1969, therefore he was rather moved by the fate of those young boys.

After the Velvet Revolution in 1990, the Vítkov town square was named "the Square of Jan Zajíc".

In January 1992 was established Award Foundation of Jan Zajíc with a support of Vítkov Municipality and Elementary School Vítkov in Opavská street no. 22. The Foundation initiator was Mgr. Vladislav Kučík, the screenplay author for the film "Jan". The film was shown in the Czechoslovak Television in 1992 describing tragic events of 1969; the film gained extraordinary popularity in millions of viewers.

One of the aims of the Foundation Fund is to appraise the most successful pupils and students in our district on the occasion of self-immolation of Jan Zajíc.

The prize can be awarded for any of the following acts: a heroic deed, human life saving, extraordinary achievements in study or work, great results or winning at any types or grades of competitions as well as for publishing, research or artistic activities and charity work. The prize awarding is assessed by a Board composed of representatives of elementary schools, Vítkov Municipality, Office of Education and Czech Post Company.

All prizes are always awarded on the occasion of reverent remembrance of Jan Zajíc's death at concerts of professional artists with attendance of important guests.


Ferdinand Hanusch

9 November 1866 – 28 September 1923

Ferdinand Hanusch

Ferdinand Hanusch was born in 1866 in a poor family in what was then called Horní ves, which at that time was not part of Vítkov (then called Wigstadtl). To make his living, he had to employ his diligence and perseverance and learned several crafts. He earned his first salary as a worker on the construction of the silk factory in Vítkov. Later, he worked ther

e as a weaver. Already in 1897, he became a member of the Social Democratic Party and a trade unions official. He then decided to leave his home, and as he was highly talented and tenacious, soon he gained considerable general knowledge. He served as a political secretary of the trade unions in Šternberk, and since 1900 as a secretary of the Union of Textile Workers in Vienna. In 1907, after changes in election laws, he became a member of the Social Democratic Party in the Reichstag, Austria's first 'national' deputy in Vienna, the capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Thus, he was enabled to propose social-oriented legislation in favour of simple workers.

Since the establishment of the first government of the Republic of German-Austria in 1918, he became the State Secretary for Social Affairs, where he remained until 1920.

His legislative efforts laid the foundations of a modern welfare state; from paid holiday, social insura

nce of workers, and creation of union councils, to legislated working time. He is also credited with the abolition of night work for women and young people and the prohibition of child labour.

When in 1920 he and his associates left the Austrian government, he became the director of the Vienna Chamber of Workers and Employees and continued in the parliament as Chairman of the Socio-Political Committee working on improvement of social legislation in Austria until his untimely death in 1923. He is buried in the central cemetery in Vienna.

In History of the Town of Vítkov by Josef Ullrich from 1933, Ferdinand Hanusch is described as one of the prominent sons of the homeland (p. 547 – 548) and an excellent social democratic politician and organizer who will be forever remembered for his contributions to implementation of socio-political ideas in the former Austria, which currently has one of the best social systems.

Ferdinand Hanusch was honoured by the City of Vienna and all Austria by including his bust in the national monument of social democratic politicians at the Vienna Ringstrasse. Also, already since 1924, there is a street named after this great person and politician in Vienna, with several other streets in different towns and cities named after him. 



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