Here comes May, my favorite month of the year. Trees and flowers are blooming, the smell of clean, fresh, bright green grass fills the air, the birds sing in the warm sun and the days are on their way to their June endlessness.
Too bad my favorite month of the year always starts with the communist celebrations of První máj. I remember them well from my school years. All of us kids, our parents, our aunts and uncles, their friends and their friends’ friends, the whole entire population had to stop their lives and “voluntarily” and “gleefully” go take part in the staged communist parades to carry propaganda banners and wave silly little flags in the celebration of the wonders of life in socialism.
The communist regime plagued Czechoslovakia from 1948 to 1989. The damage it left behind consisted of 205 486 wrongful convictions, 248 political executions, 4500 prison deaths, 327 border killings and 170 938 emigrations. I find it absurd that 17 years after the fall of the totalitarian regime in this country, the communist party ranks number three in popularity (and therefore power) and thousands continue to gather at the annual celebrations on May First. Can’t you people at least move your parties to February and leave this day to Mácha?
Well said Dana!
My hubby and I are traveling to Prague Oct. 15-23, 2006. We’ve not yet booked our hotel or made definitive plans for sites to visit. We’re thinking of 3 days in Prague and the rest to tour the countryside. Do you have any recommendations for 3-star hotels plus sites to visit? Thanks.
I see that you found the My Czech Republic Message Boards after posting your comment. I think that is the best place for questions regarding your trip, since our whole community will have a chance to respond.
In case you have not seen them, you might find these pages helpful:
– Three Days in Prague
– Prague Hotels
You mentioned many that were affected by the communist regime that was enpowered in 1948 but falied to mention the 100’s of thaousands that were forced to escape only their clothes on their back –and often small children in their arms — that were forced to surrender their proriety that was in their family for generations to ambicious party officials!
The stolen propriety is still, even to this day the hands of the heirs of these communist thief’s. In 1989 perhaps some of the Red Stars were removed from public view, but the communist party is still in power in the Czech Republic today — the communist are much stronger that many are willing to admitt — The young generation claims ignorance of the deeds of the regime, and the older ones are just waiting for the ex-pats to die off, so the sins of their past can be forgotten. What was stolen in 1948 will remain stolen until it is returned to the rightfull owners, and not until then will the Czech Republic become truly free.
Why the comunist are still around today? merely due to the fact, that in 1948, they were voted in by majority, and those who truly opposed the regime were encrcerated, killed or forced to flee. Those who fled have no right or say in the matters of the Republic today — that was why the party stripped them of their birth right and citizenship. To assure that there were no claims to any stolen propriety in the future — Red Star or no Star, communism is alive and doing well doing well in CR today. Just visit any government office today, and you’ll be amazed how many of the female employees are sproting RED HAIR as their badge of honor. Coincidence?…
It was not the goal of my post to list all the crimes the communists ever committed in this country. Yes, of course they stole private property as well. Much of the property, such as buildings and land, has been returned to its rightful owners since 1989, so it’s not completely true that “the stolen propriety is still, even to this day in the hands of the heirs of the communist thieves”.
You are very right to say that the communist party is still in power in the Czech Republic today. They have actually been the third most powerful party in recent years. I’m completely bewildered about this. The reason I’m going to vote in the parliamentary elections next week is not so much to give my vote to a particular political party, but to make sure that the communists get one more vote against them. In my opinion, any party that has ever committed murders and any other atrocities should be banned.
One of the reasons the communist party is still around in the Czech Republic today is the fact that the new democracy we earned for ourselves in 1989 was so intoxicating that the population (including Havel) felt that it wouldn’t be democratic to ban a political party. I guess we believed that the communists would disappear from public life in a natural way. Who would have thought that so many people would still support them almost two decades later?
I see your point, and respect your willingness and determiantion to bring back the old CZ of yesteryear. But the 40 year occupation of the repubic has left many scars and trends. The most obvious symbol in Prague (Dejvice) is the old red star reaching into the sky, that was merely painted over and is now green. However, during my visit last year, I encountered many of there communist symbols all oer the country — in basement or old barns — the one that stood out the most, was when I was showed a large commercial buliding in Vysoke Myto ( considered buying it and remodeling into a hotel), that at one time was the computer center for the Karosa bus factory that was confiscated from a Jewish family in 1948, now living in Switzerland. The price was reasonable for a delapitader run down building, but during my tour, in a room on the first floor there was a prestine 15′ high red star that at one time was on the roof of the building! Asking my host, what was the symbol ( I assumed that it would of been destroyed after the velvet revolution, as a jesture of solidarity) it being “saved for?” The host simply replied: You never know, we may need it again in the near future! Needles to say, that was a “deal breaker” for me on the spot. To invest $400K and the have it confiscated again, as they did in 1948?…
Regarding the “return” of confiscated proprieties to the original owners, is but a myth. I inspected my grandfathers apartment building in Jablonec n.n… Yes they were willing to “retun” the propriety to me, for a few $$$ for tranfer fees, but the catch was, that I had to agree to ” restore” the historical building to it’s “original” apearence ( the building was used as a rental unit for the past 40 years, and currently there were 8 gypsy families living in there, and even to toilet bowls were missing ( not to mention what else). Apparently, the “state” was collecting rent for these past 40 years, and not even one Koruna was spent for upkeep – there they were hopping that cheap sentimentaly would make me fork over $200K for restoration, By the way, I also visited grandpas home, on the outskirts of town –by the forrest- but that home was no available, since allegedly grandpa sold the propriety to the original occupant (Gottwald family) in 1969 ( his signature was on the document), but onfortunetly grampa died in May 17, 1960 ( grandma, his wife died June 13, 1960, who was the last living relative in CSSR). When I questioned, how was iot posible for grampa to sign this document 9 years after his death, I just got a balnk stare from the Katastr official…
Communism is doing well and is alive in CR,it is only a matter of time before thay are again in full power
— elections or not — history will repeat itself, since the communist roots are long and deep. Masaryk’s Czechoslovakia and it’s people are all gone or dead, all that is left, are those powerbrokers who originaly took over the country in 1948… Havel had a noble goals, but was forced out. Fortumetly, he did not have to jump out of the second floor and close the window behind him, as did his predaccesor 40 years ago!
I’m sorry you have such a low opinion of the Czech Republic. It seems to me that you’re very much disconnected with the present, with the Czech people and the Czech character and that you dwell on the past, imagining that things are still the way they were in the 1970s. I’m almost starting to think that you actually hate the Czech Republic and its people who in your mind have been reduced to nothing but thieves, crooks and scheming communists.
I have expressed my opinion on the red-turned-green star in Dejvice in the relevant thread on our message boards. I feel the same about the red star you found tucked away in an old building in Vysoké Mýto. The fact that communist symbols are scattered around barns and attics doesn’t mean that communism is coming back and that we’re going to experience 1948 all over again. I believe that this country is done with communism once and for all, just like it is done with being a monarchy and just like the U.S. is done with slavery. Communism has caused this nation (and much of Europe) too much pain to ever have a chance of coming back to full power. The idea of it happening sounds insane to me.
The return of confiscated property to its original owners is not a myth. In the 1990s, a relative of mine was returned many hectares of land (fields, meadows and forests) his family used to own before 1948 when they had a private farm. Other people in the same village were also returned property and now own land that had been taken from them or their parents in communist times. A friend’s family got back a historical, four-story apartment building near Vinohrady, which is worth a fortune. This kind of thing happened all over the country. Land, buildings, hotels and resorts that used to be “owned” by the communists are now once again in the hands of their original owners or their descendants. Czechs now own property and run businesses. How do you think the private sector could exist at all if it weren’t based on private ownership?
I understand from what you write that your grandfather’s apartment building and the home in which he used to live are still owned by the communists. That’s surprising to me. I didn’t think there were still cases like that in the Czech Republic. There was a period of restitutions that went on for several years in the 1990s when the original owners had a chance of getting back their former property that had been taken away from them as part of the “nationalization” process in the 1950s.
As far as Havel having been forced out, I don’t know how you came up with that. According to the Constitution of the Czech Republic, the president is elected for a 5-year term and can be elected for a maximum of two consecutive terms. Havel first became president of Czechoslovakia on December 29, 1989. He was re-elected in the free elections in 1990 and remained in office until July 20, 1992. He was elected president of the Czech Republic on January 26, 1993 for a five-year term. He was re-elected in 1998 for another five-year term and remained in office until February 2, 2003 despite his deteriorating health due to his heavy smoking, which caused him to have to undergo surgeries and spend time in the hospital repeatedly towards the end of his presidency. In total, Havel was president of Czechoslovakia or the Czech Republic for a total of 12,5 years. I’d be curious to know what you mean by him being “forced out”. You mean forced out by the Constitution? Or by Václav Klaus? I’m trying to picture Klaus chasing Havel around the Prague Castle with a tennis racket in his hand…
You are right, I must have some deeply inbedded dislike of the Czech Republic. All my life I considered myself a Czech. But the truth is; I was merely born in Czechoslovakia — actullay I’m a Slovak, now since I was born in Bratislava — but after my last visit I was convinced that I’ve no business there nor do I share anything in common with the present occupants. All my family ( the Czechs)is dead, and all that is left are a few graves.
I seriously considered returning to “my home land” and spend my remaining years in the land of my birth, but last visit ( we left when I was 6 years old, and only visited once before in 1970 to burry my last surviving granparent) opend my eyes. The facts are, that I’m indeed and American that just happens to speak Czech, and the Czech culture I’ve experinced is a mere “heresay”, as told by my parents and their co-patriots in exile. Now I understand why none of the 1948-49 ex-pats I’ve met during my lifetime did not or do not have any desire to “return home” anymore. The bitter memories I’ve are shared by most. I guess, it is hard to forget those who robbed you of everithing you had, your childhood, family and including stripping them of their birthright and citizenship – the new democratic system hence failed to undo the wrongs of the old regime. But then that would be an admission of guilt and wrongs of the past! I hope you are right, but my opition is still, that the “old ways” will be back in the not so far future. The writing is on the wall ans the Russian culturization of the people is very obvious to a visitor. Now I understand, why most Americans I’ve met, that visited CR since 1990 seem to have the same opinion: it was nice, but once was enough, never to return again. I now am one of them.. Maybe in my next lifetime!
PS: The repatriation process you mentioned, is almost true. Yes, some propriety was returned, but only to those who reamined in the country during the occupation and retained their Czech citizenship. Those who exiled and were stripped of their citizenship do not qualify, since the buerocracy deems that as a “abandonoment” of their rights by leaving the country illegaly… I guess, that was the price of breading free air, and not perishing in a uranium mine if they remained behind…No one left the country voluntarily, but rahter under the threat of life sentence in a labour camp, were most did not survive.. But that is a past, that the Czech do not want to admitt! These actions were a genecide for profit anyway you look at it — Sanctioned stealing by those who did not have from those who had under lawfull constitution of CSSR. The same group is still in power today, wheather of not you are willing to admitt it.. Communists with blue ties!