Monday, 2 April 2012
The Prague Spring
Last week, I managed to achieve a long-held ambition by visiting Prague, and I certainly wasn't disappointed by my all too short trip to the crossroads of Europe. The unexpectedly superb weather was a bonus, but the city is so fabulous that it would be a great destination in any weather.
I studied Franz Kafka when I was doing my A Levels long ago, and I have always enjoyed his work, so a visit to the Kafka Museum was a must. Very good it was, too. And I was amused to find not only a Sherlock Holmes pub, but also a tobacconists' known as Baker Street.
I was struck by the monument to those who suffered when the country was under Commmunist rule. Suffice to say that capitalism has really taken hold of the place now, but it's important to remember the past, especially when, in difficult economic times, many questions are bound to be asked about the way society is run. Questions which, as Kafka intimated a century ago, are not easy to answer.
Above all, I found a visit to the Jewish Quarter unforgettable. The whole area is fascinating, but one thing I'll not easily forget is the synagogue in which are displayed pictures drawn by young children who were held by the Nazis, and almost all of whom were killed in the death camps a year or two later. The hopefulness and humanity of their art work was unbearably poignant. And again, we need these reminders of the past, in order that the mistakes of history are not repeated.