Nov 26, 2007
|We had a wonderful time in Plzen, with great conversations and dinners with our hosts, Eva and Vladislav; a visit to Eva's organization, where we sat in on some English classes for seniors; and a visit to the Pilsner Urquell brewery. Plenty of more stories to come!
Street of Political Errors - Nick writing
We were told an interesting story about Ameriska Street
, which was only named after the revolution in 1989, which summarizes a lot of what the Czechs went through over the last hundred years.
At the turn of the century, the street was likely named for a famous Hapsburg from the Austrio-Hungarian Empire, who were not a universally loved ruling family. After WW1, Czechoslovakia was created out of the ashes of the AH Empire, and the Czechs and Slovaks together lived in wha they now refer to as the first period of democracy.
During the German occupation of WW2, however, it was changed to Heydrich Street, the name of the German chancellor of Czechoslovakia - a very bad man who was assassinated in Prague by Czechoslovak freedom fighters with a grenade.
After liberation by the Americans on May 6th, 1945, a demarcation line was drawn by the Soviets and Americans, which placed Plzen on the west side, and Prague on the right, even though the Americans could have reached Prague in 2 hours. It took the Soviets 3 more days to reach Prague, even though it was now considered on the Red Army side of the line. After all of the treaties were signed, the West left Czechoslovakia, and in 1948 the Communists won a rather rigged election, and came to power. The street was then named Lenin Street.
After Lenin Street, the name was changed to the head of the Communist Party in Czechoslovakia (Gottwald Street, I believe), and then to Moscovska Street. And then finally after the revolution of 1989, and then the splitting into the Czech Republic and Slovakia, the street was named Ameriska Street; in the mind of some locals, continuing the trend of Political Errors.
Our friend joked that the New Yorkers had got it right, and they should have just named the streets after numbers.