The Memorial of Silence has spent the past five years collaborating on coordinating the public spaces adjoining the place of memory at Bubny Station. A series of working meetings for the land-use development of Prague 7 produced plans for a park named after Petr Ginz. Seen from the railway tracks, the park will be dominated by a sculpture symbolizing the passage of time.
On the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Czechoslovak Republic, a hundred-tonne stone block was extracted from a quarry near Liberec. Since then, it has waited for its use in artist Jaroslav Róna’s sculpture Time of Silence.
The sculpture’s shape recalls the fabled ouroboros. Written in braille on its surface are excerpts from Hannah Arendt’s writings on totalitarianism. The stone’s transport from the quarry to the place where it will be transformed into a sculpture over the next two years was an event in and of itself.
After being replaced by video events during Covid, the Memorial of Silence’s traditional memorial event returns to the station hall. The concert in memory of the Terezín Family Camp was combined with the presentation of a unique photograph discovered in the G.T. Album.
The photograph, which shows a scene from the Terezín railway siding, was symbolically inaugurated into the Memorial’s future permanent exhibition to the musical accompaniment of the David Dorůžka Jazz Trio and survivors’ eyewitness accounts, read by students of the Lauder Schools.
The Memorial of Silence’s second opinion forum was held at the mayor’s residence, where important personalities presented brief (no more than seven-minute) reflections with timeless meaning.
Today’s disinformation war is a distinctive part of the public space, social networks, and domestic and international media.
In this year’s public discussions, the Memorial of Silence is exploring the question of stereotypes.
We look at the phenomenon of stereotyping as one kind of deeply ingrained and unexamined pattern of thinking. Stereotypes work with our memory and with the legacy of simple categories – not just accepted but also rejected categories.
Stereotypes are a catalyst for mass manipulation.
The following speakers accepted our invitation: Petr Pithart, Tomáš Halík, Alice Koubová, Michael Romancov, Petr Fischer, Ivana Svobodová, Jan Urban, and Ladislav Snopko.
Moderators: Renata Kalenská and Jan Bumba.
The recording of the second Opinion Forum can be watched on iBroadcast CT.
A publication of all the participants’ presentations can be downloaded HERE.
The event was held under the auspices of the Mayor of the City of Prague.
The traditional lighting of the first candle was held at Bubny station with the participation of Minister of Culture Martin Baxa, Vice-Chairman of the Chamber of Deputies Jan Bartošek, and many other important guests. The candle on the Memorial of Silence’s menorah was lit by Chief Rabbi of the Czech Republic Karol Efraim Sidon and Chief Rabbi of Prague David Peter.
The Šarbilach orchestra’s autumn concert series continued with a performance for the Memorial of Silence at Bubny Station. The event was also an opportunity to remember the orchestra’s recently deceased founder, Jaromír Vogel.
The concert has been made possible thanks to a contribution from the Endowment Fund for the Victims of the Holocaust, which is funded by the Czech Ministry of Culture.
„The Memorial of Silence generally concludes its theater and concert season in late October, because the station building becomes inhospitable with falling temperatures. But we got an offer to perform from this orchestra, whose name translates as ‘shards of happiness.’ Also ‘listening’ to the music were the faces on the photographs from the Terezín Ghetto album from our most recent exhibition. The station hall was filled with klezmer melodies from the Balkans, Ukraine, and Galicia – eastern music with captivating rhythms and legends that added to the atmosphere of our place of memory. As the concert was reaching its climax, my phone vibrated in my pocket and I read the following brief headline on the display: ‘We’re at war: Rockets claim victims in Poland…’ There is no end to debates as to who shot at whom. Commentaries full of accusations remain heated. Whatever the case, that rocket flew into a concert held at a site associated with wartime tragedy – another sign that the past touches the present and vice versa,“ Pavel Štigl, director of the Memorial of Silence, reflects on the evening.
Bubny Station’s departures hall hosted the Přírodní Škola secondary school with their original performance titled A Visit from Prehistory. This excellently prepared and well-acted production commemorated the 80th anniversary of the deportation of Petr Ginz from Bubny to Terezín. Three sold-out performances encourage us to honor the legacy of the child hero of the ghetto. They were also a great inspiration for all student visitors, who can similarly process their archival discoveries regarding “grand stories.”
Bubny Station hosted a mini-seminar to which the Memorial of Silence invited several colleagues from other memory institutions. The goal of this seminar was to share experiences and to evaluate a recent trip by the Memorial of Silence’s organizing team to Poland. New museum institutions are lifting our northern neighbor to the top of the European culture of memory.
We met with representatives from six leading Polish centers of modern history, who gave us tours of the exhibitions at their expansive venues. In our view, the trip was excellent preparation for working on our own planned permanent exhibition.
We also consider it important to engage in professional discussion regarding the evolution of museum language, although our first attempt was not as successful as we had hoped, for only two people came from the many Czech museums we contacted. It looks like creative dialogue regarding the evolution of Czech memory institutions has a lot of hard work ahead of it.
This year, drumming against the silent majority on the anniversary of the first Jewish transport to leave Prague finally also resounded against the silent stillness of the area surrounding Bubny Station.
For many years, we have been promising that we will soon begin converting Bubny Station into the Memorial of Silence, and we no longer want to make empty promises. This year, just before Drumming for Bubny, the Czech Ministry of Culture issued a press release about its new budget in which our project plays an important role. Správa Železnic, the state-run company responsible for administering the country’s railway network, is preparing work on the historical tracks. Things are finally in motion, and so we hope that next year’s drumming will join the noise of heavy machinery and mixers.
The Memorial of Silence has entered into a dialogue with urban planners working on the station’s greater surroundings. We are striving for the future city within a city being planned for this “ash heap of history” (our polite term for the surrounding brownfield) to embrace some of Prague’s identity. And that it will be given more respect than the two totalitarian regimes of the twentieth century gave it. This, too, is one role of the future place of memory located on the boudnary between the city of the past and the city of future. A public discussion on the development of the public space surrounding Bubny Station was held in the station’s departure hall on 11 October.
A discussion evening about interventions into public space and about the Memorial of Silence’s dialogue with Prague’s largest brownfield, which is now coming to an end.
In the spring of 2023, extensive renovation works will begin on the train tracks at and around Bubny-Zátory station. The Memorial of Silence, too, will begin its renovation project, and so this unwelcoming place, sometimes called a scar on the face of Prague, will become a thing of the past. In this relation, we recently presented the work of Richard Homola, who spent the past several years recording the area surrounding Bubny station in a new series of photographic images.
The unveiling of a sculpture by French artist Dominique Defontaines was the most recent event of our gallery of ephemeral sculptures created four years ago for the Memorial of Silence by Ivana Brádková. The works of art were gradually swallowed up by their surroundings, and in the next three years the station will become a sculpture in architecture itself.
“We are trying to accelerate discussion of what a place of memory actually is and what memory means in relation to designing urban spaces. Over the past few years, we have engaged in creative dialogue with urban planners, and our architects have presented several alternatives for organizing public space in relation to our plans, which we shall begin realizing next spring. We have called our experiments into the place as it looks today ‘interventions into a brownfield,’ for even this ash heap of history is to a certain degree a public space. Photographers associated with the Memorial of Silence have created entire series of images that, already at the moment of their creation, captured incomprehensible scenes from the central city that next year will become archival material,” says Pavel Štingl, director of the Memorial of Silence.
The opening of the exhibition Album G.T. was well-attended by members of the public, in particular people interested in this important historical discovery. Initial reactions have made it clear that the images – and their grand stories – are truly captivating.
“The album from the Terezín Ghetto that we (…) managed to acquire two years ago is truly an extraordinary event. Its significance has changed over time, as this remarkable exhibition item yielded a whole range of historical discoveries. The inspiration – and perhaps even excitement of memories – created by the album has led us to produce an entirely new exhibition concept aimed at engaging in contemporary dialogue with the photographs,” adds Pavel Štingl.
The exhibition was extended twice, was visited by nearly 10,000 people, and its accompanying educational program was attended by a promising number of schools. We are glad that we could contribute to the various exhibition projects commemorating the anniversary of the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich with a different and – judging by visitors’ responses – new kind of project. Prague, the Nazis’ city of race science where the new colonization of Europe’s southeast was planned, became a warning about the parallels of wars and their backgrounds.
Although the exhibition’s outline was drafted long before Russia invaded Ukraine with tanks, planes, and many theories about why Ukrainians have no right to their own borders, the parallels with the ideologies of war and propaganda that lead to excuses for killing civilians are quite clear on their own.
Many visitors have asked where the exhibition will be shown after it ends its run on the academic soil of the Carolinum, and why it isn’t installed somewhere permanently… A part of it will be included in the permanent exhibition of the Memorial of Silence after Bubny train station is renovated and begins to serve as a public place of memory. However, should there be interest in The New World Order at home or abroad, we will gladly adapt the exhibition to any new venue, including its multimedia accompaniment. Nevertheless, it is not the kind of exhibition project that can be easily transferred merely by hanging its panels on a universal display system.
We would like to once again thank our main partners, Charles University, Czech Television, and the entire organizing team.
You can also look forward to the film that is being made about the exhibition and that will continue to share the legacy of and warning about one of the most terrible abuses of science and learning in our lands, which took on truly global proportions.
For the third time, Memorial of Silence commemorated the liquidation of the so-called Terezín family camp in Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Once again we prepared a dignified commemorative concert, again in the Trade Fair Palace, the place of memory where the Jewish deportations had their beginning.
The commemorative meeting was opened by Jiří Růžička, First Deputy President of the Senate of the Czech Republic. Jan Bumba, who hosted the evening, presented contributions from the Bubny Station Broadcast on topics addressed at the Bubny Station during this Spring which increasingly proves that history and the present are one common dialogue. Subsequently, Eva Erbenová recalled the beginnings of her wartime history connected with the place of memory.
The special guest of the evening was mezzo-soprano Dagmar Pecková, who performed a repertoire of Biblical Songs by Antonín Dvořák.
The Biblical songswere chosen by Dagmar Pecková herself for the commemorative concert. “It is our duty to constantly recall the fate of people who, simply because of their origins, became victims of the so-called Final Solution. This collective guilt is inexcusable and eternal. We must never forget the victims of Nazism, but also the post-war expulsion of Germans – a bloody revenge on people often as innocent as the war victims. Similarly, we must prevent the spread of any form of nationalism today. We are finally living in a free country and we must do everything we can to keep it that way. Let the Biblical Songs of Antonín Dvořák be heard today. A humble plea and call to God. One of the most fascinating gifts of Dvořák’s artistic inspiration. Because only God and our faith in him give us hope for things to come.” says Dagmar Pecková about her choice of the repertoire. She was accompanied at the concert by pianistKarel Vrtiška.
„Memorial of Silence would like to thank all visitors for the support they have shown with their generous attendance to this particular summer commemoration of the grave events that took place long ago. Here, the team of authors drew parallels with and pointed out important features of recent and contemporary events. It is great that this experiment in communication underlining parallels with historical events was so well attended. The small courtyard of the Trade Fair Palace was too small for this summer’s concert.“ Pavel Štingl on behalf of Memorial of Silence
Those interested in watching selections from the public discussions of the Bubny Station Broadcast which we offered at the beginning of the commemorative concert can access both of the abridged recordings here:
The commemorative meeting was held under the auspices of the Minister of Culture Martin Baxa.
During this time, we welcomed 1,200 visitors at the Bubny Railway Station and at the New World Order exhibition in the Karolinum.
As part of the traditional spring event “We Are Open” in Prague 7, two theatrical productions in various stages of development were presented at the Bubny railway station.
The literary and theatrical programme “The Words Sound from Behind the Walls” continues the regular cooperation between the Přírodní Škola (School of Nature) Grammar School and Memorial of Silence. Students of the school under the director František Tichý performed several parts of their theatre and concert repertoire. All this was accompanied by quotations from books published by the Přírodní Škola Grammar School.
The Night of Trains brought the remarkable experience of a theatrical reflection of director Eva Blechová’s memories of her personal participation in a former trip to London with the so-called Winton children, which included her aunt. The reading rehearsal of “A Theatrical Remembrance of the 2009 Travels in Europe”, with two dozen of the “children” now of advanced age, along with several dozen journalists from across Europe and a series of historic locomotives, was a promising starting point for a performance about the not-so-simple legacy of the great war stories for future generations.
Actors: Hana Frejková, Přemysl Rut, René Levínský, Hana Malaníková, Bára Hančilová, Tomáš Kout, and others
A stage reading of the play written by Eva Blechová on the journey of Winton’s Children that originated in the Author Workshop, House A, Rubín Studio was a part of We are open.
The play of Eva Blechová is based on real events and documents. With a detached view and humour, she outlines the problems of the second and third generations, develops the subject of late love and family relationships, and deals with the absurdity and sentimentality of the famous historical event that attracts the media.
Even the oppressive conditions at the Theresienstadt Ghetto and the impending transports to the east did not prevent the children and young people from being creative and living.
The themed evening presented Theresienstadt Ghetto poems set to music, excerpts from secretly published periodicals, and the books by František Tichý Transport za věčnost (Transport Beyond Eternity) and Labyrint nedokončených setkání (The Labyrinth of Interrupted Encounters). The programme was delivered by the students and teachers of Gymnázium Přírodní škola who have been dedicated to the issue for more than 12 years.
The performance took place as part of the traditional spring event of Prague 7 “We Are Open”.
On Wednesday 18 May, after 6 p.m., Memorial of Silence opened its participation in the Open House Festival with a public discussion on the coordination of public space around the Bubny Railway Station. ARN STUDIO architects have presented the concept for the future public space between the station platform and the future track system for express trains to Kladno. Architect Michal Bartošek discussed the process of completing the Metropolitan Plan and its perspectives for changing both the quality of life in the city and how the city is perceived.
‘This memorial and its overall intention evokes in me the memories of Prague at the end of the 1930s, its significant times when it was a cosmopolitan cultural city, spoke different languages, and had world-class architecture.’ Ing. Arch. Michal Bartošek, Development of City Quarters Office – IPR Prague
‘It is encouraging to take an active part in the transformation of the largest brownfield in Prague that brought shame on the city over the past decades. But now, it has started moving before one’s eyes. It is a great effort of the implementation team to schedule all the plans to ensure that the building takes place in the same period of time. If all goes well, this portion of the tracks, including the revitalisation of the old station, will open to the public in 2024. Through its dialogue with the city planning authorities, the Memorial of Silence imparts on the renovated sites the stories and contents related to the cultural identity of Prague.’ Pavel Štingl, Director of the Bubny Memorial of Silence
We have lived to the time when the largest inner city brownfield in Europe embarks on the path of change. We are part of it.
In connection with the announcement of the winning project for the new building of the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, Lenka Burgerová, Councillor for Territorial Development of Prague 7, spoke about the current status of the adoption of the new Bubny-Zátory zoning study and the future communication lines that will connect Memorial of Silence with the waterfront. The finalizing of the public competition for the Vltava Philharmonic Hall is a great cultural improvement on the nearby surroundings of the Bubny railway station. It gives a new perspective to the cultural growth of the Vltava Meander and to the place of memory of Memorial of Silence.
More information about the competition for the Prague Philharmonic Orchestra building, including photos, can be found HERE.
The opening ceremony for the multimedia exhibition New World Order took place in Prague’s Karolinum, a place which was not chosen at random, but because centres for racial quality assessments were mostly housed in the buildings of the Nazi-occupied Czech Charles University and its scientific institutes.
The historical parallel that exists today with the Nazi propaganda which preceded the Munich failure of Western diplomacy giving way to Hitler in 1938 is a serious stigma in early 2022.
The seven-minute documentary can be found here and on the Facebook profile of Memorial of Silence.
It features a chamber music concert, staged on the platform of the Bubny railway station, with musical arrangement combining several cultural activities at this site of memory – two Hasidic dances by Zikmund Schul as well a fragment of the prelude from Johann Sebastian Bach’s third suite in C major, performed by cellist Michal Kaňka and violinist Jan Schulmeister.
Against the backdrop of the musical performance set in contemporary railway traffic, the old railway station pulsates with the atmosphere of a theatrical rehearsal, where students of the Přírodní Škola Grammar School (Natural School) prepare a production in the departure hall based on an authentic memoir by Petr Ginz – a poet, artist and editor of a children’s magazine from Terezín called “Vedem” (We Lead).
Along with the musicians in the documentary, the platform of the Bubny railway station hosts artists who create unique thematic graffiti inspired by the memories of Dita Krausová. It was designed and spray-painted onto the stage area for the Memorial of Silence gallery by students of the Přírodní škola Grammar School Prokop Císler, Ondřej Fábra, Ondřej Martínek and Marek Mošnička.
The Briefly on Wannsee discussion session was the recollection of a „routine working meeting“ of fifteen SS officers regarding the logistics of the Final Solution to the Jewish Question.
On 20 January 2022, we offered two general questions to our selected guests: What is the essential legacy of the Wannsee Conference for you? What can its course, outcome, and substance communicate to us in terms of our understanding of the current situation of the globalised world?
The invitation was accepted by: Petr Fischer, Fedor Gál, Pavel Kosatík, Petr Koura, Petr Pithart, Jakub Rákosník, Karol Sidon, Jakub Szantó
We are pleased that all participants considered it an honour to speak, and they all considered the seven-minute format of the presentations to be suitable in order to break the usual pattern of events of a similar nature.
A collection of papers has been prepared for the whole event, which is currently in print.
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