Thursday, 7 August 2008

Communist Museum, Prague

Taking advantage of my trip to Prague, I made it a point to visit the Museum of Communism. The museum is tucked away off from Wenceslas Square between, and this is not a joke, a MacDonald's and a Casino. As a person interested in history and politics I thought that the museum would be an interesting look into the lives of Czech's behind the Iron Curtain. The museum does a good job of balancing the absurd with truths of communist rule.

The exhibition is divided into three themes: dream, reality, and nightmare. The visitor is first presented with gigantic statues and busts of Marx, Lenin, and Stalin. Placards on the wall explain the initial praise of the liberating Red Army following the war and the communist party's eventual rule of the country. The 'dream' section offers a glimpse into the hopes of the Czech people and their belief that communism will bring them an improved quality of life. There several books displayed in this section filled with communist propaganda. Following the 'dream', the 'nightmare' exhibit represents a vision of life under communism. The placards explain that shops usually lacked basic goods and customers could expect to wait in long lines for little selection. This section also displays examples of the constant communist propaganda forced upon the public. The final portion of the museum depicts some of the terrible civil rights violations perpetrated against the Czech people and their resiliency in the face of this treatment. A video showing footage of protests Velvet Revolution, a non-violent protest against the communist government, demonstrates the violence inherent with a totalitarian government.
The film was an excellent tool in truly displaying the tactics used by the communists to ensure obedience. Records such as this are extremely important in preserving the past and offer very specific and literal imagery of events. Guerilla videos such as this are becoming more common and should be regarded and preserved as historical record.

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