Sunday, July 25, 2010

Prague. View from Charles Bridge to St. Vitus' Cathedral; Gate Towers

Gate Towers

Prague, view from Charles Bridge toward the Lesser Town Bridge Tower, and Judith's Tower; and more distant St. Vitus' Cathedral

Petr Ginz lived with his family in Prague during the German occupation in World War II. He wrote poems and stories, drew, and kept a diary. He was sent to Theresienstadt ghetto (Terezin CZ), see  ://; and then to Auschwitz (Osweicim PL) where he was killed at age 16.

Some of his art and writing survived and was held at Yad Vashem in Israel, see ://

He became known as a particularly gifted child. An astronaut, Ilan Ramon, took one of Petr Ginz' drawings on board the Columbia space shuttle, the tragic voyage that ended in explosion, killing all on board. See ://

Art and writing was discovered in the attic of the family's Prague home, in 1993, and translated into English in 2007: "The Diary of Petr Ginz 1841-1942," ed. Chava Pressburger (Petr's sister), Atlantic Monthly Press NY 2007.

  • Other resources:  See him, and read of his artwork, the diary and other writings, at ://  For an overview of listed facts, we are invited to link to Factbites, and do so here: Factbites, Petr Ginz.

This site: Photographs and informal research on places and issues from the Diary.

See our Czech Republic Road Ways for an expanded view of the country; and our Poland Road Ways for more information on the concentration camp complex of Auschwitz-Birkenau, where Petr was killed.

Lesser Town:  on the castle side of the Charles Bridge.  The two main towers there are the Lesser Town Bridge Tower, and the Judith, the lower of the two. The original bridge burned in 1342, and the Judith Tower is all that remains of it. The larger tower was built in the late 15th Century. See ://

Why supplement The Diary with photographs.

Petr Ginz records, rather than narrates. The entries are succinct, not introspective, not a window into feelings: a child's inventory of the day. There are helpful and extensive editorial notes to explain places and events, but our brains wander without some Optics. 

For many of us, as well, the names are hard to remember.  Eastern European names, culture and locations are new. In its present, carefully historical form, the Diary may not even reach a child's library. The story, to us, asked for illustration, how the place appeared then (not our expertise) and now. The diary, particularly with its reference to the assassination of Nazi Reinhard Heydrich, would make a fine film or play.

Researching further.

As you read the Diary, look up any unfamiliar references online, including in Images. We may be out of school, or school is not covering WWII, but we can self-educate.

For a broader look at war itself, see World War 1, World War 2, Studying War; and Studying War.

There is also a 1975 film depicting the Resistance assassination of SS Obergruppenfuhrer Reynhard Heydrich in 1942 in Prague, ://, see "Operation Daybreak," :// Petr also writes of this event, identified by the Resistance as Operation Anthropoid. The village of Lidice was destroyed in retaliation. See://

The informal Car-Dan Tour Company (us) has no connection to the book, except a deeply feeling one.

1 comment:

Stephen8 said...

Despite its unjust and sad history, today the site is a wonderful place to walk. It has a real fantasy feeling when you finally encounter the Towers,

Gate Towers