Appreciating Václav Havel
The Salvation of the World Begins in the Human Heart
Václav Havel (5 October 1936 – 18 December 2011) was a Czech playwright, essayist, poet, philosopher, dissident and statesman. From 1989 to 1993, he served as the first democratically elected president of Czechoslovakia in 41 years. He then served as the first president of the Czech Republic (1993–2003) after the Czech-Slovak split. Within Czech literature he is known for his plays, essays, and memoirs.
Havel co-founded the Committee for the Defense of the Unjustly Prosecuted in 1979. His political activities resulted in multiple stays in prison, and constant government surveillance and questioning by the secret police. His longest stay in prison, from May 1979 to February 1983, is documented in letters to his wife that were later published as Letters to Olga.
He was known for his essays, most particularly The Power of the Powerless, in which he described a societal paradigm in which citizens were forced to "live within a lie" under the communist regime.
Excerpt from Speech By Václav Havel, President of the Czech Republic to a Joint