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Charter 77, a civic initiative demanding adherence to human and civil rights, was the most important form of resistance to the communist regime and normalization. The fortieth anniversary of its publication gives us an opportunity to present the situation of the Jewish community during the normalization period, undeniably unique on the one hand while on the other a microcosm in which similar processes no less intense than those affecting society at large were taking place. The exhibition presents concrete cases of StB operations against Jewish communities, the dilemmas faced by community members, and the involvement of several members in dissident and other activities outside the official scope of Jewish communities. Yet the exhibition will show more than the myriad forms “anti-Zionist” propaganda took during this period and its impact on individual lives. Normalization also entailed the destruction of Jewish cemeteries, the demolition of synagogues, and the obstruction of research and study into the fate of Jews during the Second World War as well as policies that nearly eradicated Judaism completely. On display will be photographs depicting daily Jewish life, the efforts made to preserve it despite the coordinated attempts of the communist regime to suppress any sort of meaningful activity, especially the passing down of Jewish traditions from one generation to the next. Brought together from a number of archives, the majority of the unique documents and photographs are being exhibited for the very first time.

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Through the Labyrinth of Normalization: The Jewish Community as a Mirror for the Majority Society

The period after the armies of the Warsaw Pact invaded Czechoslovakia in August 1968 was called by communist ideologues “normalization.” Under the watchful eye of Soviet military occupation, Czechoslovak society was to return to “normal,” that is, to a rigid ideological socialism with a single political force having an unchallenged monopoly of power and wholly subject to Moscow’s dictates. The building of “real socialism,” the primary offshoot of normalization, was ratified at the XIV. Congress of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (CPC) in May 1971. True to its anti-Semitic traditions, Soviet propaganda labeled the political liberalization in Czechoslovakia from 1967 to 1968 a Zionist conspiracy, alluding to the show trials of the 1950s. The Kremlin considered a Zionist anyone with Jewish ancestry or who associated with Jews. Many Czechoslovak communists adopted this formulation, and after an interval of many years, State Security once again began to compile lists of names of those with Jewish heritage for “operational usage” in the fight against Zionism. Citizens designated by the communist regime as Zionist, no matter if they considered themselves Jewish or not, began to encounter a variety of problems, the reasons for which they were often unaware. Jewish communities, which operated under the direct supervision of state bodies, experienced enormous pressure, as did other religious institutions, and, as was the case with the population at large, their officials were subjected to extensive vetting and purging. Charter 77, a civic initiative demanding adherence to human and civil rights, was the most important form of resistance to the communist regime and normalization. The fortieth anniversary of its publication in 2017 gives us an opportunity to present the situation of the Jewish community during the normalization period, undeniably unique on the one hand while on the other a microcosm in which similar processes no less intense than those affecting society at large were taking place.

The exhibition presents concrete cases of StB operations against Jewish communities, the dilemmas faced by community members, and the involvement of several members in dissident and other activities outside the official scope of Jewish communities. Yet the exhibition will show more than the myriad forms “anti-Zionist” propaganda took during this period and its impact on individual lives. Normalization also entailed the destruction of Jewish cemeteries, the demolition of synagogues, and the obstruction of research and study into the fate of Jews during the Second World War as well as policies that nearly eradicated Judaism completely. On display will be photographs depicting daily Jewish life, the efforts made to preserve it despite the coordinated attempts of the communist regime to suppress any sort of meaningful activity, especially the passing down of Jewish traditions from one generation to the next. Brought together from a number of archives, the majority of the unique documents and photographs are being exhibited for the very first time.

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Robert Guttmann Gallery, U Staré školy 3, Praha 1

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Information and reservation centre

The central contact point for visitors of the Jewish Museum in Prague is the Information and Reservation Centre in Maiselova 15, Prague 1

More information

History of the museum

Established in 1906, the Jewish Museum in Prague is one of the oldest Jewish museums in Europe. Its founders were the historian Salomon Hugo Lieben and the representative of the Czech-Jewish movement and city councillor August Stein. At the core of its collection were items from synagogues that had been demolished as a result of the clearance of the Prague Jewish ghetto. Established in 1906, the Jewish Museum in Prague is one of the oldest Jewish museums in Europe.

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27. 6. 2017 /

Museum visit by a member of the Israeli government

Mr Ofir Akunis, member of the Knesset and Minister of Science, Technolog... More information

22. 6. 2017 /

Visit by a delegation of the European Court of Human Rights

A delegation of the European Court of Human Rights led by President Guid... More information

16. 6. 2017 /

Frans Timmermans and Lubomír Zaorálek in our museum

Frans Timmermans, First Vice-President of the European Commission, accom... More information

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Partners

Židovská obec v Praze Federace židovských obcí v ČR Ministerstvo kultury MSMT Praha CC CC Evropská infrastruktura pro výzkum holocaustu (European Holocaust Research Infrstructure) NFOH CC Asociace muzeí a galerií CC CC CC CC CC metamo PLT judaica.cz
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