John Lennon in Prague

John Lennon is in Prague - well, to be precise, his wall is in Prague although John Lennon himself never visited Prague in his short life.

In Mala Strana, near the French Embassy, you'll see the John Lennon Wall.  The wall that was formerly an ordinary wall in Prague has been called Lennon's since the 1980's, when people filled it with John Lennon-inspired grafitti and pieces of lyrics from Beatles songs.  Why?

John Lennon and the Communist Regime

Lennon was a hero to the pacifist youth of Central and Eastern Europe during the totalitarian era.  Prior to 1989 when Communism ruled, western pop songs were banned by Communist authorities, and especially John Lennon's songs, because they were praising freedom that didn't exist there.  Some musicians were actually jailed for playing them!

When John Lennon was murdered in 1980 he became a sort of hero to some of the young and his picture was painted on this wall, for whatever reason right there, along with graffiti defying the authorities.  Don't forget that back then the Czech people had few opportunities to express their feelings with their lack of freedom.  By doing this, those young activists risked prison for what authorities called "subversive activities against the state".

But the threat of prison couldn't keep the people from slipping there at night to scrawl graffiti first in the form of Beatles lyrics and odes to Lennon, then, they came to paint their own feelings and dreams on the wall.

The Communist police tried repeatedly to whitewash over the portrait and messages of peace but they could never manage to keep the wall clean.  On the second day it was again full of poems and flowers with paintings of Lennon.  Even the installation of surveillance cameras and the posting of an ovenight guard couldn't stop the opinions from being expressed.

John Lennon Peace Wall

The Lennon Wall represented not only a memorial to John Lennon and his ideas for peace, but also a monument to free speech and the non-violent rebellion of Czech youth against the regime.  It was a small war of Czech people against the Communist police who cleaned the wall.

At first glance, the Lennon Wall is like any graffiti-covered wall you see around the world.  But this wall is special thanks to its history.  People have said it is Prague's equivalent of the Berlin Wall.  They are not far from the truth.  Some people also believe that the "John Lennon Peace Wall" helped inspire the non-violent Velvet Revolution that led to the fall of Communism in the former Czechoslovakia in 1989.

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