I took a No.12 tram to the Memorial to the Victims of Communism, in Újezd, at the bottom of Petřín Hill. It consists of six naked male figures (actually the same figure), arranged on steps up the hill, each progressively more decayed than the last, and it captures well the corrosive and debilitating effect of the communist regime. The memorial is approached by more steps from the road, at the foot of which are bronze plates listing the chilling statistics: "205486 convicted, 248 executed, 4500 died in prison, 327 annihilated at the border, 170938 emigrated". The same numbers are repeated in a strip running up the centre of the steps.
205486 convicted | 248 executed | 4500 died in prison | 327 annihilated at the border | 170938 emigrated
Just as I was lining up my shot up the steps from the road, a huge tour group turned up (French I think, there seemed to be a lot of them in Prague) and swarmed all over the steps and the monument itself. It's quite a moving series of statues, but they all want to have their pictures taken holding hands with the figures, or wrapped around them, and give no thought to what it all means. [Having said that, the grass is worn away where people climb up, and the steps are littered with fag ends. I couldn't help thinking that the Austrians, among others, would take a lot more care of such a thing].
I stayed 20 minutes or so, dodging the posers and trying to make something of it photographically. The memorial is illuminated at night; I didn't have a chance to come back then, but I have a feeling that it might be the best time. The plaque at the side of the memorial is in Czech and in English:
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 City of Prague, the Municipal District of Prague 1, and the
Confederation of Political Prisoners built the memorial in 2002.
Authors: Architects Zdeněk Hölzel and Jan Kerel and Sculptor Olbram Zoubek