A hurried resurrection

In Prague’s Malá Strana, on Letenská Street, where the street car slips under the buttresses of the Augustinian church, next to the gate of the former Carmelitan convent, a pre-war ghost sign came recently to light. The arrow indicates the direction of the river in both languages of the once bilingual Prague: MOLDAU and VLTAVA.

That is, it would indicate it. Because the German half of the inscription was made unreadable with white paint at some time after the discovery.

In the course of the great Eastern European landslides of the 1940s, a part of the public inscriptions which became racial, national or class enemies, was given a chance to survive under wall painting until the extinction of the former hatreds and the people carrying them, and to resurrect themselves in a more mature, wiser and more understanding society, where they are no longer destroyed, but rather restored and appreciated as memorial signs of history and of a more multicolored and perhaps better world. This happened in Lemberg, where the Polish and Yiddish inscriptions now have their own cult, blog and printed publications, in Wrocław, where they restore and publish in academic catalog the inscriptions of German Breslau, or Abbazia, where the multilingual signboard is not any more a reminder of the foreign oppressors, but rather of the golden age of the most famous resort of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy.

In Prague, society is not yet mature enough so that the name of Vltava could be read in the mother tongue of their three million deported or killed compatriots, and in the mother language of Franz Kafka and of Bedřich – born Friedrich – Smetana, just one corner from the museum of the first, and two corners from the river sung by the second.

Ghosts, obviously, do not exist.

The sign before being painted over in a Wikipedia photograph dated 17 November 2011

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