Marking the tenth anniversary of Václav Havel’s passing, the Prague published Italian magazine Progetto Reppublica Ceca prepared a book consisting of memories from 18 of Havel’s closest friends and associates. Under the patronage of the Italian Embassy and the Italian Cultural Institute, the talented Amedeo Gasparini authored the book. His admiration for Havel led him from Lugano, Switzerland, to study international relations in Prague.
Among the personalities interviewed to remember Havel was Zdenek Bakala, alongside Karel Schwarzenberg, Michael Zantovsky, and Madeleine Albright. Zdenek met Václav Havel in person for the first time in 1992 but knew and admired him long before the Velvet Revolution. “I’d spent my childhood following what was going on in the underground; I was gripped by the life stories of those people, and I listened to their music on tapes. Even back then, Havel was a symbol of something extremely important to me,” remembered Zdenek Bakala. Zdenek also reflected on their long-standing friendship and the many hours he spent with Havel in his private study in the attic, where they would sit and debate together.
At the mention of Havel, Zdenek Bakala always recalls his surprisingly playful and cheerful nature, often hidden on official occasions. He was also surprised and inspired by Havel’s courage. “Just imagine that though he didn’t speak perfect English, he fearlessly stood before the United States Congress and delivered a speech that the whole world has remembers to this day,” said Bakala. “He also showed people how much power the ‘powerless’ have when they work together. That, I think, is actually his most important legacy – the power of the powerless. This is what he presented as a philosophical concept, what he realized in his life, and it is perhaps the greatest idea that has survived him. In a way, it still influences us in our philanthropy.”
The book is titled “Václav Havel. Ritratto a più voci dell’eroe della Rivoluzione di velluto / Václav Havel. A multi-voice portrait of the hero of the Velvet Revolution” contains a foreword by writer and journalist Sergio Tazzer, in addition to interviews with the 18 personalities. Published in Italian with an English translation and an exclusively non-commercial distribution model, the book is available free of charge at the Italian Cultural Centre in Prague. When visiting, guests have the option to make a charitable donation to selected organizations working in the spirit of the former dissident and human rights activist.