A little piece of history that reminds us of just how fundamentally hostile the Communists were to religion. And how, beyond their brutalities, they were equally immune to any of the norms of human decency.
What kind of people use cemetery headstones in building projects? Communists (and to be fair, Islamists, who did the same thing in Israel.)
Dozens of paving stones made from Jewish headstones have been found during redevelopment work in Prague’s tourist district, confirming speculation that the former communist regime raided synagogues and graveyards for building materials.
Tuesday’s discovery came in the opening phase of a £10.6m facelift project in the city’s landmark Wenceslas Square, scene of the some of the Czech Republic’s most dramatic historic events and a frequent site of political protest.
Rabbi Chaim Kočí, a senior official with the Prague rabbinate, witnessed workers unearthing cobblestones whose undersides revealed Hebrew lettering, the star of David and deceased dates. Other stones were blank but had polished surfaces that indicated they had also been taken from cemeteries.
Jewish leaders hailed the unearthing as proof of long-held suspicions that the communist authorities – who ruled the former Czechoslovakia for more than four decades during the cold war – had taken stonework from Jewish burial sites for a much-vaunted pedestrianisation of Wenceslas Square during the 1980s.
The flagship project was showcased during a walkabout tour by the-then Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987.
Communist regimes had sought to erase the presence of any religious Jewish community, beyond those they maintained to show off for foreign tourists, and destroying cemeteries was not at all unusual. But it took a certain degree of malice and incompetence to do this. Using cemetery headstones to pave streets is not what a competent and functional system does. It’s evil and incompetent.
Communist regimes were trying to put on a show of accomplishing things while being utterly inept at the basics. They could destroy, but not actually create.
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