Jewish tombstones used to pave Prague streets will become a memorial

About 6,000 cobblestones from Prague's Wenceslas Square that were made from tombstones will be turned into a memorial at the Jewish cemetery in Žižkov.

Expats.cz Staff

Written by Expats.cz Staff Published on 04.06.2022 09:58:00 (updated on 04.06.2022) Reading time: 2 minutes

About 6,000 cobblestones that were made from tombstones taken from Jewish graves will be used to create a new memorial at the Jewish cemetery in Žižkov. The Jewish Community of Prague announced the news following a successful crowdfunding campaign this spring.

The cobblestones were uncovered during the recent renovations to Prague's Wenceslas Square, but they were no surprise: it had long been known that tombstones from Jewish cemeteries had been recycled to pave Prague's streets both under German occupation during WWII as well as the subsequent communist regime.

In 2019, the city of Prague reached an agreement with the Jewish Community to oversee the dismantling of cobblestones during the renovations to Wenceslas Square, and return any cobblestones that were sourced from Jewish tombstones.

Ultimately, around 6,000 cobblestones weighing a total of about seven tons were discovered during renovations to the lower half of Wenceslas Square, which are now nearing completion.

While the cobblestones were returned to the Jewish Community, they didn't want them to sit in a storage facility.

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In March, the Jewish Community in Prague received permission from the district of Prague 3 to construct a new memorial by the Jewish cemetery under the Prague TV Tower.

After failing to obtain a subsidy to finance the construction of the memorial, a crowdfunding campaign was organized to raise the funds. Last month, it reached its initial target of 150,000 crowns. The total cost of the memorial is estimated to be 750,000 crowns.

The memorial will be crafted by renowned Czech sculptor Jaroslav Róna. One of the Czech Republic's most well-known sculptors, Róna's work includes the Statue of Franz Kafka in Prague's Jewish Quarter and the equestrian statue of Jobst of Moravia in Brno.

"We ask those of you who care that the stones, as witnesses of past injustices, will experience lost piety," František Bányai, chair of the Jewish Community in Prague, stated in a press release for the crowdfunding campaign.

"We therefore ask you to contribute to the reverential correction of past crime."

The memorial will be unveiled on September 7, 2022 with the support of the city as part Žižkov Cultural Heritage Days. Along with the presentation of the memorial, a ceremony will include special tours of the Old Žižkov Jewish Cemetery.

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