Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Prague Landmarks #8 - Memorial to the Victims of Communism

I have to confess that during my association with Prague I've not spent anywhere near as much time exploring the western embankment of the Vltava and its environs. Of course I've made numerous trips up to the castle, I've spent plenty of time in the cafes and restaurants of Malá Strana, and enjoyed some good walks up on the Letna plateau and on Petřín  Hill.

But there's a lot more going on in this area, and on my most recent visit I started to try and rectify my omission, and I'll continue to do so in the future.

If you're staying on the east bank, a common walk is to go over Most Legií from the National Theatre, and maybe drop down onto Shooter's Island (Střelecký ostrov ) and look out over the Charles Bridge. Most people will then continue over the bridge and turn right at the end and head down towards Kampa.

But if you continue straight ahead, along Vitèzná, and down to Újzed at the bottom of Petřín Hill, you'll look up and see the Memorial to the Victims of Communism. The monument consists of a series of seven bronze figures (or partial figures) descending a flight of stairs. It was unveiled  22nd May 2002 to commemorate, some twelve years later, the victims of the communist regime between 1948 and 1989.

A plate at the base of the monument gives the estimated details of the numbers of people directly affected during those years:

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

A nearby plaque 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"
The whole memorial was the work of the Czech sculptor Olbram Zoubek, and the architects Jan Kerel and Zdeněk Holzel, and has caused considerable controversy since its erection. In 2003 two bomb blasts damaged one of the statues, but no group has ever claimed responsibility.

I had previously seen the monument in daylight (albeit a very damp, gloomy November day) but only recently visited it after dark where it has an eerie glow making it even more disturbing.

Memorial to the Victims Of Communism

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