Prague unveils memorial to shooting victims six months after deadly attack

A temporary sandstone monument at Jan Palach Square honors the victims of the Dec. 21, 2023 shooting at Charles University's Faculty of Arts. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 22.06.2024 10:07:00 (updated on 22.06.2024) Reading time: 2 minutes

On Friday afternoon, representatives of Charles University, the Faculty of Arts, and some survivors commemorated the six-month anniversary of last December's tragic shooting with a minute of silence and the laying of flowers at a temporary memorial in Jan Palach Square.

The attack claimed 14 lives and injured 25 others, with the perpetrator, a student at the faculty, committing suicide after the assault. The centerpiece of the memorial is a three-meter-high natural sandstone sculpture.

"The unprocessed stone is a bit of an expression of our as yet unprocessed loss," Charles University Rector Milena Králíčková explained while presenting the memorial, noting the significance of the monument. "We want to give it time."

The sculpture's raw form symbolizes the ongoing process of mourning and recovery. A QR code at the base links to biographies of the victims on the university's website, offering a personal connection to each lost life.

“We do not want to recall the act that struck us six months ago, but remember those we lost," added Dean Eva Lehečková. "Their passing affected our faculty, colleagues from Charles University and other institutions, and a large part of the public. We want to offer them and ourselves a place to remember the victims.”

Králíčková emphasized the need for a permanent memorial, which will be developed in the near future following consultation with the victims' families, to ensure it reflects their experiences and needs.

The new outdoor monument serves the public, while a 'quiet place' on the fourth floor of the faculty building—where the shooting and subsequent police intervention occurred—provides a more intimate space for reflection.

This area, featuring metal wells, stones, and flowers, has been open since late May and allows visitors to leave messages, handle water from the wells, or light candles in memory of the victims.

The shooting at the faculty is the most tragic event of its kind in Czech history, significantly impacting the mental health of around 9,000 people, according to police reports. Králíčková stressed the importance of supporting the mental health of students and staff affected, and announced the creation of a new Center for Resilience at the university.

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