New exhibition recalls 1989 East German exodus through Prague

West German embassy in Prague, September 1989, photo: CTK

Over 20,000 East Germans escaped to freedom via the West German Embassy in Prague in mid-to-late 1989, as the communist edifice started to crumble after four long decades. Their exodus is now recalled in a new exhibition entitled "Cesta za svobodou" or "Journey to Freedom" at Prague's Police Museum.

West German embassy in Prague, September 1989, photo: CTK
After thousands of East Germans had managed to flee to the West via the West German Embassy in Budapest in the summer of 1989, others looked closer to home for a route to freedom. They came in their hundreds and then thousands to the West German Embassy here in Prague. Many camped in and around the grounds of the embassy at the Lobkovic Palace in Mala Strana.

By November 6th almost 25,000 had escaped to the West via Prague. Three days later the most potent symbol of a Europe divided since the war - the Berlin Wall - had fallen.

The Czech Office for the Investigation and Documentation of the Crimes of Communism has just opened a new exhibition on those heady days at the Prague Police Museum.

It was first prepared in Germany, though the Prague show features translations in Czech.

Among the items on display are documents from 1989 showing the events from the viewpoint of the authorities here in Prague. These include reports from the Czechoslovak StB secret police on events at the West German Embassy and articles from Czechoslovak newspapers of the day.

The exhibition runs at the Prague Police Museum until March 11.