Memorial Haunts Me in Prague

Memorial Haunts Me in Prague

I walked from my hotel in Prague to the “Memorial to the Victims of Communism.” The haunting monument was created in 2002 by sculptor Olbram Zoubek and architects Jan Kerel and Zdeněk Hölzel to commemorate the victims of the communist era between 1948 and 1989.
















In viewing and interacting with the work I began to understand how Charles’ family and Czechoslovakian people suffered physically and spiritually under the rule of communism in their homeland. It was painful, disturbing, and humiliating.

The memorial stands amidst a small forest at the bottom of Petřín hill on Újezd Street in the Malá Strana.  A line of seven figures* in varying stages of decay ascend the stairs, representing the different phases of destruction of those living under the totalitarian regime.  The stairs are constructed in a way that makes it increasingly difficult to climb them. I walked them. . . I know this is true.

The decaying process of the figure worsens as the stairs reach the top of the hill. The figure diminishes. It crumbles and loses its limbs . . . reflecting how both the mind and body suffered under communist rule. It disappears as the Czech society lost the freedom of thought and expression while under the watch of the secret police and censorship.

A bronze ribbon runs along the ground in front of the memorial engraved with the numbers of people whose lives were negatively affected by communism:

205,486 arrested
170,938 forced into exile
4,500 died in prison
327 shot trying to escape
248 executed

communismmemorialplaquecrA plaque installed beside the monument reads: “The memorial to the victims of communism is dedicated to all victims – not only those who were jailed or executed but also those whose lives were ruined by totalitarian despotism.”

But many tourists don’t see this. They walk by unaware of the meaning of the monument and merely take pictures of the figures.

Prague, November 28, 2015


*Would have preferred to also have female figures included

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