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22 November 2011 / leggypeggy

John Lennon lives in Prague

Two young artists add their creative flair to the John Lennon Peace Wall.

I was surprised to encounter John Lennon earlier this year in the Czech Republic. His presence there is huge—on a long graffiti-covered wall near the Charles Bridge in Prague.

During the totalitarian era, John Lennon was a hero and source of inspiration to the pacifist youth of Central and Eastern Europe. After Lennon was murdered in 1980, his portrait was painted on this wall, and young Czechs began adding their grievances too.

These writings became a source of irritation to the then Communist regime of Gustáv Husák, and led to clashes between students and security police. Ironically, the students’ movement was referred to as ‘Lennonism’, and the Czech authorities described the followers as alcoholics, mentally deranged, sociopathic and agents of western capitalism. At that time, Czechs had little scope to voice opinions about their lack of freedom, but the wall provided a public place for young people to share their feelings and dreams, to honour the memory of John Lennon and to share lyrics by the Beatles.

Although the Communist police repeatedly whitewashed the wall, they never really succeeded in keeping it clean. Within a day it was again full of poems and images that represented freedom, peace and love.

The wall belongs to the Knights of the Maltese Cross, and they allow the graffiti to continue. In 1998, work was carried out to restore the wall’s crumbling facade was reconstructed in 1998. The original portrait of John Lennon is now buried beneath layers of paint, but each day the wall acquires new images and messages, and Lennon can be seen in many places. Sometimes referred to as the John Lennon Peace Wall, it remains a popular tourist destination but, more importantly, a symbol of free speech and non-violent rebellion by Czech youths.

Here’s a slideshow of some aspects of the wall.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

7 Comments

Leave a Comment
  1. dougstuber / Jan 18 2016 12:07 pm

    We’ve woven a web, you and I,
    attached to the world, for no matter
    how long, inscribed, though poorly, for
    scant eyes, still, as bright a love aura as
    has ever glowed, tightly wound around
    our hearts, yet soaring miles above
    Moodung’s fog to warm cold February.
    Sparks fly off a round-rock fire rarely seen
    in these parts. We laugh, it feels like we
    shouldn’t be here on a cold winter night,
    just a few meters from trails so packed
    during the day. This charge will never
    leave. We’ve marked this space but must
    go to where the stars shine, deer run, art springs.
    Keep my heart in your brain, words in your hair.
    Matched lifelong yearning bursts in my hand,
    fluorescent. Quick, pack what you need, let’s
    flee! live life in the positive zone, expand
    what we enjoy together, bound by the luck
    that brought us this far. Where to next?

    Like

  2. jeanleesworld / Jul 15 2017 9:40 pm

    Isn’t it curious what grows out of art’s inspiration? Such a legacy of hope. Awesome. 🙂

    Like

Trackbacks

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