International Students Day is an international observance of student community, held annually on November 17. Taking the day differently than its original meaning commemorating German storming of Czech universities in 1939 and killing and sending of its students to concentration camps, a number of universities mark it, sometimes on a day other than November 17, for a nonpolitical celebration of the multiculturalism of their international students.
The 17th of November is the International Students Day, an international observance of student activism. The date commemorates the anniversary of the 1939 Nazi storming of the University of Prague after demonstrations against the killing of Jan Opletal and the occupation of Czechoslovakia, and the execution of nine student leaders, over 1200 students sent to concentration camps, and the closing of all Czech universities and colleges.
The day was first marked in 1941 in London by the International Students Council (which had many refugee members) in accord with the Allies, and the tradition has been kept up by the successor International Union of Students, which has been pressing with National Unions of Students in Europe and other groups to make the Day an official United Nations observance.
The Athens Polytechnic uprising against the Greek military junta of 1973 came to a climax on November 17, with a violent crackdown and a tank crushing the gates of the university. The Day of the Greek Students is today among the official student holidays in Greece. The 1989 Prague demonstrations for International Students Day helped spark the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia. The Struggle for Freedom and Democracy Day is today marked among both the official holidays in the Czech Republic (since 2000, thanks to the efforts of the Czech Student Chamber of the Council of Higher Education Institutions) and the holidays in Slovakia.
During late 1939 the Nazi occupants of the Czechoslovakia (at that time it was called the protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia), in Prague, suppressed a demonstration held by students of the Medical Faculty of the Charles University. The demonstration was held to commemorate the creation of an independent Czechoslovak Republic.
This demonstration resulted in Jan Opletals death. November 15 is the date when he was meant to be transported from Prague back to his home in Moravia. His funeral procession consisted of thousands of students, who turned this event to yet another anti-Nazi demonstration. This, however, resulted in drastic measures being taken by the Nazis. All Czech higher education institutions were closed down; more than 1200 students were taken and sent to concentration camps; and the most hideous crime of all: nine students/professors were executed without trial on the 17th of November. Due to this the date of 17th November has been chosen to be the International Students Day.