Following lunch, a small group of us went on a walking tour of Prague’s Jewish Quarter. At one time, the Jewish population of Prague numbered 118,000. Of these, 80,000 were sent to concentration camps. Today the Jewish population of Prague numbers only 1600.
Our visit included several synagogues, most all of which are now only museums and not working worship centers. One of them has been turned into a Holocaust Memorial, with the names of 80,000 Prague citizens who perished after being sent to the concentration camps.
Each victim’s name, date of birth, and date sent to the concentration camp was listed with the family names in red. It frankly was overwhelming to see all these names.
More sobering was the exhibit of children’s artwork created during their imprisonment in the camps. Even our local guide was choked up when she told us the men and women in the camps tried to maintain their children’s education, especially lessons in art and music. Now we have these poignant reminders that these innocent children perished.
We then made a slow trek through the Jewish Cemetery which actually closed in 1727. You see small rocks on top of the ancient grave markers. This custom arose during the Exodus period when people died in the desert and stones were placed on top of the bodies to protect them from animals. Now people, mostly tourists, place little stones—not flowers—on top of the monuments.