The meaning of freedom in the here and now, and the importance of protecting and nurturing it - highly topical issues that preoccupied the Prague office of international law firm White & Case when it invited its clients and co-workers to the Marble Hall of Palác Lucerna on Thursday, October 17th to celebrate 30 years of freedom. The firm used the occasion to support the project known as Paměť národa / The Memory of Nations, which has been recording the stories of direct witnesses of Nazism and Communism for posterity.
Among those who accepted the invitation to the festive event was Miluška Havlůjová, who as the mother of a baby boy was unjustly incarcerated in the 1950s. Ms. Havlůjová shared with the guests her experience recording her story for the annals of Memory of Nations.
During the evening, guests were encouraged to bid in a silent auction for photographs from a recently discovered archive of images of the events in Prague in November and December 1989. The author of the series is Karel Bucháček, previously unknown as a photographer and in fact employed in academia as a research assistant. It was in his spare time that he captured Prague and its citizens during those dramatic days. Even with just a part of his archive published, the author may already be considered one of the very best amateur photographers in Czechoslovakia.
The auction proceeds in the amount of CZK 356,000 will go towards providing financial support for Memory of Nations. “We are immensely grateful for this support and thank all of the donors from the bottom of our hearts. Occasionally, I get the feeling – particularly around the annual commemoration of the Velvet Revolution – that we live in times of grandstanding and empty gestures. This evening hosted by White & Case has made a welcome difference. Most of the time, people like to talk about freedom and enjoy their own personal freedom, but they do precious little for those who took a stand and fought for freedom. It is the least that we can do to faithfully document the stories of the courageous people who stood up to totalitarian regimes. Through their testimony, we become aware of the times in which we live, and realize how fragile freedom really is. Thank you so much for helping us build the Memory of Nations,” said Mikuláš Kroupa, the Director of Post Bellum and founder of Memory of Nations, in his speech of thanks.
“All of us have our own story. The web of these stories connects us as families, communities, cities, and as a nation. Therein lies the great and lasting value of projects such as the Memory of Nations, which create a faithful and impartial record of our stories,” noted Petr Pánek, executive partner of the Prague Office of White & Case, during his opening address.
About White & Case
With over 2,000 lawyers based in 44 offices across 30 countries White & Case is one of the leading international law firms in the world. White & Case has been providing complex legal and tax advisory services in the Czech Republic since early 1991, and with more than 50 lawyers and tax advisors, it is one of the largest international law firms in the country.
About Memory of Nations
Memory of Nations represents one of the largest oral-history collections in Europe, which has been accessible to the general public via the Internet since 2008 as a database of testimony by those who directly witnessed the events of the 20th century and lived through two totalitarian regimes – Nazism and Communism. Their stories show how these regimes impacted the lives of individuals, and give us greater insight into the essence of totalitarianism.