One of the odder sights in Prague is located in a building occupied by a casino and a McDonald’s: the Museum of Communism. It’s an invention of an American entrepreneur, and more than a little biased. There is really nothing to explain why the failed political system was ever appealing in the first place. Still, it’s an interesting overview of an important period in the history of the Czech Republic.
Many of the exhibits are colorful collections of artifacts, such as the propaganda present everywhere during that era. There are also informative placards for those seriously interested in historical events, although there is really no attempt at objectivity. There’s a chilling reconstruction of an interrogation room, giving an idea of the repressive regime people lived under.
Most interesting, to me, were actual objects from that era, lovingly preserved. In Eastern Europe, many people are nostalgic for some aspects of the Communist period. There’s a feeling that under capitalism and democracy, Eastern Europe has taken on some of the worst aspects of Western materialism. Some people say that under the Communist regime, they had jobs and money, but nothing to buy. Now, they say that under capitalism, they have no jobs and no money but there is plenty to buy.
The museum is right around the corner from the huge square where the events of the Prague Spring took place in 1968, eventually leading to democracy. Newsreel footage records those mass demonstrations, complete with arrests.
It would certainly take more than this museum to understand this tumultuous period of history. Still, it’s an interesting place to spend an hour or two pondering the history that took place in the streets just outside.
Join me next time for more explorations into the fascinating art and history of Europe!