Through the Labyrinth of Normalization at Robert Guttmann Gallery

The Jewish community was branded as an enemy of the state after the 1968 invasion

The time after the 1968 Soviet-led invasion was tough for the Jewish community in Czechoslovakia. The country was under a policy called normalization, and was forced to adopt anti-Jewish and anti-Zionist policies that scapegoated the community as the source of troubles in the communist society.

The new exhibition Through the Labyrinth of Normalization: The Jewish Community as a Mirror for the Majority Society, which as at Robert Guttmann Gallery until Jan. 28, 2018, uses archival documents, books, photos, video and a few objects to show official policies marginalizing and hindering the Jewish community, and also highlights some significant people from the era.

Almost anyone with any connection to the Jewish community was labeled as a Zionist, and potential enemy of the state. The Kremlin considered a Zionist anyone with Jewish ancestry or who associated with Jews. Many Czechoslovak communists adopted this formulation.

So-called Zionists fell under observation by the state security police, the StB. The cover of a typed StB manual for dealing with Zionism is shown.Citizens designated by the communist regime as Zionist, no matter if they considered themselves Jewish or not, began to encounter a variety of problems.

An enlargement of a newspaper article “exposes” the tricks of Zionism, and a video from the 1980s has an interview along the same lines, with a so-called expert relating familiar misinformation and propaganda about an alleged international conspiracy.

Other exhibits explain how it was forbidden to publicly list the number of Jews who died in World War II. One exception was a list on a wall in the Pinkas Synagogue, as it was not open to the public.

The communist state, especially after 1974, became more restrictive with how much freedom the Jewish community could have, and documents outline that as well. Several community leaders were forced out of their roles.

When important posts such as chief rabbi fell open, the state did not allow them to be filled in the hope that this would cause the congregation to break up.

Not all of the exhibition is negative. There are also copies of story books and prayer books that the state allowed to be published or which were published privately, and stories of some of the important Jewish figures in this era.

The exhibition also shows the physical destruction of Jewish sites at the time. Tombstones from Jewish cemeteries were broken up into paving stones, and two such stones on display show engraving of words and dates. Pictures show the destruction of cemeteries, legally looted for their marble and granite, and even the demolition of synagogues. The Žižkov Television Tower, for example, is on the site of a former Jewish cemetery. A small part of the cemetery remains on the side.

The exhibition coincides with the 40th anniversary of Charter 77, which was a civic initiative demanding adherence to human and civil rights. It was the most important form of resistance to the communist regime and normalization.

Related articles

  • The Prague Orgy - a new Czech film in English in Czech cinemas by Michal Kráčmer

    LESS LIBERTY, BETTER FUCKS

  • Festival 4+4 Days in Motion by Eliška Míkovcová (4+4 Festival)

    Festival 4+4 Days in Motion to start in Desfours Palace, this year’s slogan is Nobody Has Anything

  • Lunchmeat Festival 2019—Dark Stars on the Horizon by Tony Ozuna - (Photo Lunchmeat Festival)

    Lunchmeat Festival returns to Prague at the end of September as the leading arena for cutting-edge electronic music and with more audio-visual punch than ever before. Their new motto is a challenge to the mainstream: “obsessed with audio-visual mindf**cks— & those who question the status quo.”

  • The Best European Locations For Hen & Stag Do's by Lucy Stevens

    Alpha Travel Insurance have ranked Europe's top Stag and Hen do destinations and indexed them based on factors including the cost of flights and hotel, the cost of a pint and the number of bars and activities available to find out which city comes out on top.



  • Circus and Theatre Festival Letní Letná Kicks off Next Week by Paul Lysek

    The "Leave the Crowd Speachless" Summer Circus Festival is back for its 16th Season at Letna.

  • Events for the week of August 19 - 23 by Narmin Ismiyeva

    We've highlighted five events for this week including The Great Beauty, Latino Anděl and Festival of Illustration.

  • Events for the weekend 17 - 18 August by Narmin Ismiyeva

    Are you making plans for the weekend? We've highlighted six events including the 1981 Secondhand Festival, beer tasting in the Botanical Garden, Etnopicnic and a lesson of Argentine tango atop Lucerna. 

  • Events for the weekend 3 - 4 August by Narmin Ismiyeva

    Are you making plans for the weekend? We've selected six events including the Czech version of the famous South Asian festival of love and colors that will take place on Střelecký Island on Saturday.

  • Events for the week 29 July - 2 August by Narmin Ismiyeva

    Are you in Prague this week looking for things to do? We have one event for each day, including yoga in Stromovka and screening of Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel in Karlín.

  • New exhibition opens at National Library of Technology by Narmin Ismiyeva

    The National Library of Technology in Dejvice (NTK) is especially popular among students, however, anyone can have access to its study areas. Go explore the unique space and the art exhibition it is currently presenting.

Facebook comments

Burrito Loco Spálená

Tasty Fresh Mexican fast food in Prague

Norbert’s donuts

Superb Donuts in the heart of Prague

T.G.I. Friday's (Příkopy)

A true legend in the restaurant industry - TGI Friday's

Ristorante Casa de Carli

Authentic Italian cuisine in Prague

Charles Bridge Museum

Discover the history of Prague’s famous Charles Bridge

Trabant Museum Prague

Trabant Museum @ STK Motol

Army Museum Žižkov

Armádní muzeum Žižkov

National Memorial to the...

Národní památník hrdinů heydrichiády


PragueMonitor.com

Prague’s # 1 source for Czech news in English…


PragueConnect.cz

Expat and Czech Business Professional Network


Tschech.News

German Language Info Service