Bizarre announcements intended to remind young Czechs of fate of Jews

17-01-2007

In 80 locations around Prague posters have just appeared announcing bizarre regulations curtailing the liberty of evidently randomly chosen sections of society, such as people with freckles. The city's Jewish Museum is behind the campaign - it aims to interest young people in history by reminding them of the fate of Jews before and during World War II.

This week a series of advertising posters bearing bizarre slogans such as "People with blonde hair are not permitted to enter cinemas" appeared around Prague. This may seem rather odd, but the campaign has a serious purpose.

Vladimir Hanzel: "The main idea is to educate young people or to send them basic information about the history of anti-Semitism, especially what happened before the Holocaust here."

Vladimir Hanzel is head of the Education and Cultural Centre at Prague's Jewish Museum. He says the new ads aren't based on Nazi posters as such.

"There was not posters but...papers with bans and measures from the authorities. Many authorities - government and enterprises - made their own measure, their own ban against Jews."

Jan Binar: "Of course it is in Czech, it is not in German as it would have been in those days. But the form, the shape, the letters, the typeface, the colours - we just try to stay as authentic as possible."

Advertising executive Jan Binar is the man who actually came up with the idea for the new campaign. He describes one of the posters in detail.

"We see a poster with quite an attractive typeface 'Left-handed people are forbidden to drive motor vehicles and within fourteen days have to give up their driving licence'. This is all on a very black and dark background with a little explanation at the end - does this seem absurd to you? The prohibition on motor vehicles was applied in the whole protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia for Jewish people during the war...www.jewishmuseum.cz"

The web address of Prague's Jewish Museum appears in tiny letters at the bottom of the posters. The institution is hoping those whose interest is piqued by the campaign will find out more about its activities. Leo Pavlat is its director.

"We would like to remind a large audience and Czech society that there's a Jewish Museum in Prague and there's a Jewish cultural centre, which is ready to speak about this issue, where you can find projects, where you can find lectures and cultural evenings on this topic. Which can help to better understand what happened in the past and can also serve as a kind of warning towards the future."

The new campaign's organisers say they also plan to get schools involved in the project and to launch it in other Czech cities.

17-01-2007