The process has gotten under way to physically remove cobblestones made from Jewish gravestones that had been used to pave a popular pedestrian area in downtown Prague.
The Prague Jewish community reported on its web site and Facebook page that “dozens of stones with remnants of texts, and hundreds of polished marble stones that come from cut Jewish tombstones” had been dismantled by hand on Tuesday (May 5) from the lower part of Wenceslas Square. Many more were believed to still be in place.
Posted pictures showed rows of removed cobbles and close-ups of some of them, showing Hebrew lettering and decoration including the star of David.
The Guardian newspaper said the removal of the cobbles also came within a €12 million facelift for Wenceslas Square.
The community said that so far, no specific tombstone or place of origin could be identified. As we reported in January 2019, the cobbles were used to construct the pedestrian promenade along Na Příkopě street, at one end of Wenceslas Square, in the 1980s.
They are believed most likely to have been cut from granite matzevot taken from a destroyed Jewish cemetery founded in 1864 in the village of Údlice, in northern Bohemia near the town of Chomutov.
The fact that matzevot were used for the cobblestones became known after the fall of the communist regime in 1989. It did not spark much public outcry, however, despite several articles written about the situation, particularly in the past decade.
As we reported last year, a memorandum was signed between the city and the Jewish community mandating that the cobbles be removed and taken to one of the city’s Jewish cemeteries — the Old Jewish cemetery in the Žižkov district. (Not the famous Old Jewish Cemetery in the former ghetto area.)
The Žižkov cemetery was founded as a plague cemetery in the 17th century and used until 1890. It was partially destroyed in the Communist era, — in the 1980s the city’s TV tower was built there.