Sunday, February 8, 2009

Two "Capitalist Running Dogs" Visit the Museum of Communism

Lenin and me -
there's something about Communist kitsch
that gives me the giggles
My friend Robin posing with
ideology frozen in a museum
like taxidermy

Soviet President Josef Stalin
and Kurt Gottwald,
the Czechoslovak Communist Premier

Gottwald was known for his drinking and his womanizing

(George Washington he was not)

Hey, isn't a decesive (sic) strike
against American Aggressors

what gets YOU up in the morning?

I practically expected this Communist victory
over Nazi, British, and American aggression
to be needlepointed!
What came first?
Young Pioneers or Camp Fire Girls?
The story of this monstrous ego trip
on Stalin's behalf was fascinating
and I was learning about it for the first time.

What's the difference between this and Mt. Rushmore?
Mt. Rushmore doesn't get dynamited with enthusiasm
when the administration changes.
This picture gives perspective on just how massive
that Stalin statue was going to be.
Communists like to make their art enormous
so the workers see it whether they want to or not.
This poster ACTUALLY SAYS:
No American agent shall get through our village!
Help the National Safety Corps protect your
United Agricultural Cooperative against Western Imperialists.

This one said:
"We know what to do with Bourgeois Imperialists!"

The interrogation room
The Communists finally messed with
that which can not be messed with:
rock and roll!

When they tried to surpress this
rock band, the Velvet Revolution started
with dissidents who signed a Charter
demanding that the Plastic People be allowed to play.
A facsimile of the Berlin Wall
The Museum of Communism was created by two Americans. It would take Americans to start it, because it will be years before Czechs are interested in the subject. They lived Communism and have no need to revisit in a museum.

The Museum has an irreverent tone which is part of it's charm (as witnessed by the title of this post).  One friend, a former Communist himself, hates this about the museum. "They don't capture the heartache and the tragedy and treat these crimes with all too frivolous an attitude." I do think that's a fair criticism.

One of the most shocking things in the museum is news footage from Wenceslas Square before the Communist regime was overthrown. Plainclothes policeman would infiltrate the crowds of people congregating to demand a better government. Then they would tell the uniformed police which ones to beat up. As to be expected, the young men in the crowd got it the worst. But there were many, many more bodies than they could possibly beat there and control was no longer in the government's hands. They couldn't beat them all.

One death is a tragedy,
A Million Deaths is a Statistic.
~Josef Stalin

I wish the nighttime footage from the Velvet Revolution was on display. I think that would interest the Czechs. They could show to their children the history of their admirable regime change. To this day, I remember it all and am inspired by it. I would like to show it to my children when they come to Prague. I would tell them this is the first of many things that I want you to know and respect about these people, the Czechs, that I'm living amongst.


expatonthego said...

Is that museum new? I don't remember it being there, when I lived in Prague 10 years ago.
Looks interesting!

Karen said...

Yes, it's new. It was started in 2001. There's also a Museum of Communism in Poland.

Anonymous said...

The needlepoint is somedeal misunderstood. It depicts the victory over Nazi Germany. The marching British troop and the American tank are in the back of the stage, but they are still Allies. ;-)

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