BBC Online Network
Czechoslovakia
1989
20-25 November
'Now is the time'
The Czechoslovakian opposition soon gained unprecedented momentum. On Monday night, 20 November, hundreds of thousands of people jammed Prague's Wenceslas Squre chanting "This is it" and "Now is the time".

By 24 November, the crowds had grown to 350,000. Vaclav Havel, a dissident poet, playwright and the leader of the Civic Forum, and Alexander Dubcek, the leader of the 1968 Prague Spring reform movement, addressed the cheering crowds. The atmosphere was optimistic, not violent. Crowds called for "Freedom" and chanted "Dubcek to the castle!"

Crowds Cheer DubcekThe Communist Party central committee called an emergency meeting that night. Within hours, the entire Politburo resigned en masse and a new party hierarchy was elected.

But that was not enough to satisfy the mounting opposition. Vaclav Havel denounced the move as a Communist ploy to stay in power. The Forum also called a two-hour general strike, in order for the whole country to demonstrate against the regime. For the first time, the workers pledged support.

Wenceslas Square
Crowds cheer Havel and Dubeck
Vaclav Havel