The City of Prague Museum

Build Barricades / Exhibition to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Prague Uprising

Build Barricades / Exhibition to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Prague Uprising

Main Building

5. 5. 2015 – 30. 6. 2015

This call broadcast over the insurgent radio on the first day of the uprising, May 5, 1945, had a great response in Prague. Despite the cold and rainy night, hundreds of barricades were erected by the morning of May 6 thanks to great efforts of many Prague inhabitants, including women and children. Barricades made of cobblestones, upturned trams, girders, and furniture blocked off many streets of Prague defending the city against the attacks by German forces which tried to regain control over the capital city – the important transport node for the retreat of German army towards the west. Arriving from the military areas in the country, reinforcements supported the German garrisons isolated in Prague. Fierce fighting erupted in many places.

Despite insufficient gear and lack of heavy weapons, over 30,000 Czech barricaders resisted superior numbers in many places. However, the SS units, known especially for their brutal tactics – using civilians as human shields when conquering the barricades, taking hostages, and killing the captives including women and children – managed to reach the centre of Prague. The most critical moments of the uprising led to negotiations that resulted in the capitulation of German troops in the afternoon of May 8. Based on the agreement, the barricade defenders enabled unhindered passage of German soldiers and civilians through the streets of Prague.

The historical map of Prague occupied by the Nazis provides a general idea of the number of barricades built in the city; all the documented barricades – 2,049 in total – have been highlighted with the help of modern graphics. Thus, the map is the first cartographical rendering of the barricade card file, a unique historical source of the Prague barricades from the 1960s which is deposited in the City of Prague Museum.

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