International Students´ Day is an international observance of student community, held annually on November 17. The International Students´ Day originated as a day to commemorate the event which happened in 1939 when Nazis stormed dormitories of the University of Prague, where 1200 Czechoslovakians were arrested and sent to concentration camps, 9 students and professors were executed without trial. Students from all Europe fled to London to form an International Students Council declaring 17 November in 1941 as the ´International Students Day´.
During late 1939 the Nazi authorities in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia suppressed a demonstration in Prague held by students of the Medical Faculty of Charles University. The demonstration was held on the 28th of October to commemorate the anniversary of the independence of the Czechoslovak Republic (1918).
During this demonstration the student Jan Opletal was shot and died from wounds on the 11th of November. On the 15th of November his body 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 into an anti-Nazi demonstration. However, this resulted in drastic measures being taken by the Nazis. All Czech higher education institutions were closed down, more than 1,200 students were arrested and sent to concentration camps, and nine students and professors were executed without trial on the 17th of November. Due to this, 17 November was chosen as International Students’ Day.
The 17th of November was first marked as International Students´ Day in 1941 in London by the International Students´ Council (which had many refugee members) in agreement with the Allies, and the tradition has been kept up by the successor International Union of Students, which together with the National Unions of Students in Europe and other groups has been lobbying to make the day an official United Nations observance.
Students from everywhere around the world now have the right to unite and stand up for good causes that they believe in. This event is a symbol of inspiration for international students on their quest for a truly democratic education and society.