She collaborated on the monograph of the hotel, which no longer exists today, with the book’s editor, sculptor Pavel Karous, documentary filmmaker Martin Kohout and art and architecture historian Ladislav Zikmund-Lender.
The Dejvický Hotel Prague, definitively demolished in 2013, is an example of how we are (or rather are not) able to cope with the collective memory of the second half of the twentieth century. Milena Bartlová talks about the difficulties that collective memory brings us, and points to certain parallels from the 1970s and 1980s, when, on the contrary, the historic city centers were systematically liquidated so that a “new, better socialist face” could be imprinted on them.
“The story of the Hotel Praha is not only a story of unique architecture, but also a story of the transformation of Czech society from real socialism to real capitalism. The story of the Hotel Praha is in its beginning also the story of a victim of the arrogance of power, “he says of the prestigious end of the expensive state. From the beginning, the hotel was designed as a luxurious and representative accommodation for official government and party visits to the Communist Party. The Central Committee of the party decided on its construction in December 1969, ie at a turning point, when the period of so-called normalization began in Czechoslovakia after the occupation of the Warsaw Pact troops.
The luxurious to frivolous interior design of the hotel for party guests of the Communist Party paradoxically followed the American pop culture trends of the 1960s and 1970s.
As the authors of the book explain, although the client of the building was a normalization set, its architecture in fact followed the most progressive trend of the 1960s. In 1971, a one-round competition was announced, from which the architect Jan Sedláček and his team emerged as the winner, who managed to connect the hotel with the landscape in an extraordinary way for the architecture of the hotel. Ladislav Zikmund-Lender even puts the “biological and liquid morphology” of the hotel building in the book in connection with contemporary trends in world architecture.
Vasil Biľak was entrusted with the supervision of the construction
Vasil Biľak, an infamous supporter of the Soviet invasion and normalization, was in charge of supervising the entire building by the party’s central committee. At the time, he was acting secretary for foreign relations and ideology. However, as Pavel Karous explained, the party potentates did not interfere in the very concept of the building and its artistic equipment. “Paradoxically, the luxurious to frivolous design of the hotel by KSČ party guests followed American pop culture trends and for seventy years,” he says. The whole situation is illustrated by the fact that the works for the Hotel Prague were also created by famous glass artists, husband and wife Stanislav Libenský and Jaroslava Brychtová, who were expelled from the Communist Party in the early 1970s.
Hotel Praha was opened in 1981 for party guests, such as Yasser Arafat and Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev, and the fact that the State Security was closely monitored gave rise to a number of colorful legends about his “dark past”. We will no longer look into the actual StB archive. The files concerning the luxury party hotel and its guests were carefully shredded immediately after the Velvet Revolution.
The story of the Hotel Praha is not only a story of unique architecture, but also a story of the transformation of Czech society from real socialism to real capitalism. The story of the Hotel Praha is at the beginning and end of the story of the victim of the arrogance of power.
At the beginning of 1990, the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia relinquished the right to permanent use of a hotel in the capital city of Prague, which subsequently transferred its benefits to the administration of Prague 6. At that time, however, the hotel was obsolete in many respects and needed modernization. In 1998, however, the representatives of Prague 6 decided not to take responsibility for the future fate of the Hotel Praha, and the first attempt to sell it took place. In the same year, Pavel Bém became the new mayor of Prague 6. Documentary filmmaker Martin Kohout recalls that the hotel was eventually transferred to Falkon Capital, an entity with no experience in the hotel industry. Rooster your serious claims about people who are still in top politics in the book Hotel Prague evidenced by a detailed note-taking apparatus that refers to period documents, including wall records.
In February 2013, Milena Bartlová and Pavel Karous submitted an immovable cultural monument to the Hotel Praha at the initiative of the Ministry of Culture. The then Ministry of Culture, Alena Hanáková, decided not to initiate proceedings at all. The final “death sentence” over Prague, which stood in the immediate vicinity of Petr Kellner’s residence, was handed down by its last owner – Kellner’s PPF corporation, which was a building that was an extraordinary and multi-layered document of the time, demolished a year later…