Not long ago on a peaceful tour I was asked: “Why do you guys hate communists?“ by a British couple. That question from people of the same nationality as George Orwell shattered me more than I would have expected. Still thinking of them, by accident, I came across this plaque which says: “To the 20th century martyrs of this country. Victims of the `: 260 priests imprisoned, 73 priests tortured to death, 6 nuns tortured to death. Victims of the communists: 829 priests imprisoned, 28 priests tortured to death, 1440 priests interned, 101 nuns imprisoned, 2 nuns tortured to death, 2750 nuns interned.“ Later I shared the photo on social media and on Twitter, being limited to 117 characters, I wrote: “How can people ask ‘Why do you guys hate communists?‘. A list of priests and nuns imprisoned and killed by them.” There were a few responses but one surprised me. Somebody tweeted: “You do realize there are more listed as killed by the Nazis on this? Pls leave history and stick to advertisement thx.“
Hmm… interesting. This made me think. First, what am I doing on Twitter? Advertising? I have never taken it like that. I am trying to draw people’s attention to something I believe is captivating and would have a value for them rather than sell. But even if I was, I am a tour guide. Every day I tell people about Prague and thus reveal more about this country, culture and us, Czechs. I cannot avoid history, my work is not marketing, the purpose is not to paint the past pink to make “the product” more appealing. Besides, I am not only a tour guide, but more than that, I am a person, a human being with a thinking mind and feelings. How can I leave history and focus on advertising ?!? I am impelled to share what I think is worth sharing, stories of the heights of human skills and thinking as much as those of the evil only we people are able to cause to each other.
Finally I thought: what a strange response anyway. Why should I care that it was the nazis who killed more nuns and priests?!? Had the communists killed one, it is one too many. The whole Twitter conversation in the end was like this story that happened to me:
Last year I was tour guiding in Terezín, a concentration camp during the Second World War. By the crematorium, after the talk about how Jews had to buid it for themselves, how their bodies were shifted into the ovens only on a board, the ovens were often operated by kids who, when physically and emotionally exhausted were simply liquidated as useless, a lady came to me and asked: “You are obviously moved. Are you a Jew?” Later a friend joked: „You should have answered: And you are not. Are you a nazi?“
Yeah. I don’t need to be a Jew to feel their tragedy and I don’t need to be a historian to point out crimes of the communists. I am not sticking to advertisement. I am a feeling human. And who are you, sir from Twitter?