The Žižkov Tower is the subject of renewed complaints from the Prague Jewish community, which says it is a brooding reminder of the antisemitism of the regime that ruled former Czechoslovakia for more than 40 years and whose dark history needs to be officially recognized.
“Part of our community is still present under the ground here and people should know about it,” said Pavel Vesely, a history and tourism coordinator with the Prague Jewish community. “It reflects our history in the second half of the 20th century, when there was pressure – part state-organized antisemitism, part anti-religion – to erase the remnants of a Jewish presence in Prague. And the communists did a thorough job because if you speak to people visiting the tower, they have no idea a Jewish cemetery was here.”
The TV Tower stands on what was once Prague’s biggest Jewish cemetery, where rabbis, distinguished scholars and leading industrialists, among others, were laid to rest, while some graves remains were reburied in other cemeteries, others were reportedly dumped in a landfill site outside Prague, in violation of Jewish law forbidding the disinterment of buried bodies.
The cemetery’s oldest section survived the developments and remains in relative obscurity at one end of the square, Jewish community leaders having spent heavily to rescue it from the decay it had fallen into during the communist period.
Anna Tumova, a spokesperson for České Radiokomunikace, the tower’s owners, said the company had not been approached, but that it would consider any proposal for a memorial. A plaque on the body of the tower itself would need permission from its architect, Václav Aulický.