Stalin to return (temporarily) to Letná Park
Today it is easy to forget that Prague’s Letná Park overlooking the city once served as a pedestal to the largest statue in the world of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin. Derisively referred to as ‘fronta na maso’ (queue for meat), the massive granite work featured the marshal followed by a line of anonymous ‘heroes of the proletariat’. Prague was freed of the sculptural monstrosity in 1962; now, thanks to a film crew shooting the story of sculptor Otakar Švec, Stalin will temporarily return.
Filmmakers are now shooting a film called Monstrum about the statue and sculptor Otakar Švec, who took his life a day before the monument was unveiled on May 1, 1955. According to Czech TV, the ill-fated sculptor took his life after losing his wife and after coming under criticism over the work. Director Viktor Polesný told Czech TV the sculptor had never really wanted the commission.
A giant polystyrene version painted granite gray in Czech TV studios and depicting part of the statue, namely Stalin’s head and shoulders, and two others in the line behind him, will now go up on scaffolding overlooking the city. For roughly a week, skateboarders who normally do fakies and grinds on what remains of the Stalin pedestal, will be left to skate elsewhere. The architect on the film is Petr Fořt:
The largest group sculpture in Europe during its existence, the monument had a reinforced-concrete structure and the work contained 235 granite blocks. The Stalin Monument weighed 17,000 tonnes. The gigantic work was blown to smithereens using a reported 800 kilograms of explosives.