17 November is the day that the world commemorates and raises the critical awareness of the political and social power that students have in changing the world for a better place. This day was originally remembered for the anniversary of the brutal Nazi storming of the University of Prague in 1939, after the valiant and fierce demonstration of the masses in Czechoslovakia against their nation becoming occupied by Hitler’s fascist army. Along with that, the vicious manner in which the Nazis murdered student leader Jan Opletal and worker Václav Sedláček had sparked great anger and revolt in the hearts of the people who did not want their land to be subjugated and enslaved by a tyrant foreign power. In standing up against the Nazis, 1200 students were sent to concentration camps, and nine of the student leaders were brutally executed.
This day is recognised globally for the importance and significance students hold in leading the course of history. With the power and organisation of students and their commitment to anti-fascist politics, the world can eventually be made into a liberated and more equal place for all. It was through great efforts made on the part of Czech student leaders, to continue their struggle to remember the student martyrs of November 17, 1939, that they had convinced other students globally in 14 countries to take a proclaimed stance against the expansion of Nazism during World War II.
We, students of Great Britain and its territories and India, North and South America, the USSR, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, France, Greece, China, Holland, Norway, Poland, Yugoslavia and all free nations, to honour and commemorate the tortured and executed students who were the first to raise their voices to reject Nazi oppression and condemn the occupation of 1939, proclaim November 17 as International Students’ Day.
– Proclamation made by fourteen countries
While International Students Day has been pacified to a nonpolitical day that celebrates the multiculturalism of international students, there is still a strong student power movement growing globally that dedicates the power and strength of the younger generation towards struggling for a more just and free world. Students are the future of society; only through the radical social consciousness of young minds and their organised and structural advancement in society can a more democratic world emerge.