Monday, July 10, 2017

Jarvis Family - Day 4 - Prague

... kids standing in Wenceslas Square ...
Eric and I spent the morning at the International Congress on Law and Mental Health being held at Charles University.

 It is a pleasant 20 minute walk from our apartment along the Vltava River. Eric will present there tomorrow. The kids, stuck on Montreal time, were still in bed when we arrived home around 1 p.m. After getting them out of bed and fed, and the arrival of our host Mirka who came to unblock the shower (another story), we were off on our daily adventure.

Today's visit took us to Wenceslas Square. The square is named after Good King Wenceslas who is in fact the patron Saint of the Czech Republic. I'll never be able to sing that song again without thinking about Prague. Good King Wenceslas was in fact not a king. He was the Duke of Bohemia (907-935) He met an unfortunate end when he was murdered by his brother Boleslav I. (Makes current sibling squabbles seem sort of tame.)

 A preacher from 12th century said of King Wenceslas "no one doubts that, rising every night from his noble bed, with bare feet and only one chamberlain, he went around to God’s churches and gave alms generously to widows, orphans, those in prison and afflicted by every difficulty, so much so that he was considered, not a prince, but the father of all the wretched."

Nice to be posthumously remembered in such fashion although I suspect it is a rosy remembering.

Wikipedia tells that the "Holy Roman Emperor Otto I posthumously "conferred on [Wenceslas] the regal dignity and title" and that is why, in the legend and song, he is referred to as a "king"."

So with that historical information in mind we headed to Wenceslas Square, which is technically not a square but rather a very long rectangle. It is now most famous as a place of resistance. In 1969 when the Soviets invaded Czechoslovakia, students gathered here and set themselves on fire in protest. There is still a monument to two such students who died there. In 1989 this was the site of the Czech Velvet Revolution.

They call it this because the disintegration of communist power in Poland took 10 years, in Hungary ten months, in East Germany ten weeks and in Czechoslovakia ten days. The Czech people gathered daily by the tens of thousands in this square to protest against the Communist government until the leaders finally resigned. We took a tour of the Communist Museum which is near this square. It was quite moving to see how the Communist Regime came in and took over, yet how the Czech people quietly resisted. We watched a video at the museum of footage of the Velvet Revolution which made Hebe scared. She told me she is worried she is going to have nightmares tonight. Not sure how she is going to handle Terezin. I better think that daytrip through a bit more since the Velvet revolution is going to look like a picnic compared to a concentration camp.

I took a few interesting photos from the museum. I love the telescopic camera in the shape of a gun to spy on community members. Check out the name on the gun -FotoSnaiper.

I think I'll take this as a nickname since my kids are feeling pretty irritated with all my phototaking.

I also loved the resting dolls for sale in the Communist Museum Gift Shop. I asked the employee to tell me about them. Her simple answer, this is how we saw the Russians--monsters.

Seeing the museum made Sunday's church talks all the more poignant. The Bishop of the ward gave a history of the church in Czech republic. He spoke of the members meeting in secret for so many years as they were not allowed to participate in religious services of unrecognized organizations. I later read a story online about the member that volunteered to go before the authorities in 1989 to try and get official recognition for the church. The state asked for a local member of the church to present themselves for questioning--not someone from the USA. Since the church had not been formally recognized previously in Czech, there should have been no Czech members. Admitting to being a member of the church before this time in front of a government committee could have led to imprisonment. The member decided to present himself regardless, but asked for everyone to pray for him in case he never came home. After visiting the communist museum I better understood the kind of oppression the people were living under, and why the man was afraid he might not come home.

After the museum visit we went to eat a traditional treat--Trdelník which is a kind of "chimney cake" or doughnut cooked over coals.

It is made from dough that is wrapped around a stick, then grilled and topped with cinnamon sugar.

We of course got ours filled with ice cream. Hebe obviously enjoyed hers. Check out how they make these treats in the video below.

More later.


1 comment:

  1. I felt like I was there with you. Thanks for the report.