“1939 – 1945. In this place, fighters for our country’s freedom fought, suffered and died. We will never forget their memory and will always be faithful to their legacy. Beware, people!”
Petschek Palace, an important cultural monument, housed a Gestapo torture chamber during the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia. Here, the Gestapo interrogated thousands of Czech patriots who rejected the occupation.
The building was one of Prague’s most feared Gestapo interrogation and torture centers, now it houses the Ministry of Trade and Industry. The building was made a cultural monument in 1989, according to Prague.eu.
The palace is located near the National Musuem, looking down on the city’s heart. Occupying the building in 1939, the Nazi’s eventually established a court martial in it as well. The court determined the destiny of its subjects, sentencing its victims to execution and sending them to concentration camps. The court was established under the reign of Reinhard Heydrich, also known at the Czech Butcher.
Today, the monument acknowledges the bravery of the Czech patriots who suffered through the Nazi reign without succumbing to its power. The monument also hopes to inspire thought and retrospection about how we conduct ourselves in society. In the infamous basement torture room, known as the “Cinema,” there is a desk inscribed with this quotation:
“Why do we keep returning to the agitated history and tenacious fights of the past? Because we love future.”
Poeticism aside, questions like these are important to ask. The past is an important part of the future, and memorials like these are important to preventing the atrocious actions that occurred in it.
The neo-Classicist palace was originally built by the Czech banker Dr. Julius Petschek. The building construction began in 1923 and lasted until 1929. The wealthy Petschek family owned many North Bohemian coal mines. The family was able to sell off their assets to the Czechoslovakian government and flee the country before the Nazi invasion.
Guided tours of the former torture chambers are free but must be made one week in advance. The tours accommodate 5-20 people.