ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Showcasing a Proletarian Past

The Communist Museum in Prague attempts to present the dream, the reality and the nightmare of communism.

Since 2001, the Communist Museum in Prague – the city of Kafka and the centre of the Velvet Revolution – has stood tall as a constant critique of Czechoslovakia’s proletarian past. Visiting it during a short sojourn in November 2011, I was curious to compare it with the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg, South Africa. The Communist Museum hosts a small number of artefacts and a decent series of wall papers and television commentaries that cover four decades of communism’s path to progress, amidst criticism and attacks on its ideology.

The Communist Museum attempts to present the dream, the reality and the nightmare of communism. Its first commentary suggests that both Marx and Lenin were mediocre megalomaniacs and traitors to their own nations. Other commentaries portray the Stalinist polity as crassly materialistic, which denied any place for a spiritual and emotional life. Socialism is presented as a fanatic movement of science that was at its best in manufacturing competitive war machines. Besides the early testing of nuclear and hydrogen bombs, the USSR had the glory of the first intercontinental ballistic missile that was capable of carrying nuclear warheads. In contrast, its ordinary machine workshops resisted any technological sophistication.

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