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Faculty of Divinity


A commemorative plaque will be unveiled in the Faculty of Divinity of Cambridge University at 12.30 pm on Monday 29 October 2018. It is a thank you from students who under Communism studied in the Prague underground seminars to the lecturers who, risking their own safety, came from Cambridge to teach them in conditions of secrecy.

The plaque is the initiative of one of the former students, Marta Chadimova, whose 15-year-old daughter Justina will speak on the occasion. The idea came to Marta when she realised that the younger generation has little understanding of what life was like when an Iron Curtain divided Europe. Thousands of young people in East Europe were denied education for political reasons, and the bravest of them formed underground study groups. The British Jan Hus Educational Foundation clandestinely sent lecturers to these groups and in a unique partnership with Cambridge University set up a group which was entered for the examinations of the Cambridge Diploma and Certificate in Religious Studies. Marta was one of six students who successfully completed the whole course and obtained the Cambridge qualification. Several students were also signatories of the human rights petition Charter 77; after the Velvet Revolution one former student became Deputy Foreign Minister of the Czech Republic, while another was a founder of the remodelled security and intelligence system.

On 28 October 2018 the Czech Republic achieves 100 years of modern nationhood. In that century it has been twice invaded and twice suffered the oppression of totalitarian rule. In expressing their thanks to the Cambridge lecturers, the students emphasise the importance not only of resisting intimidation and supporting those in need, but also of academic independence, learning from history, and keeping alive the wisdom and values of the past.