Just beyond that statue is another gigantic building, the National Mausoleum, intended to be the resting- (and exhibition-) place for the remains of Czechoslovakia’s leadership throughout the glorious thousand-year epoch of Communist brotherhood that was supposed to have been inaugurated by the coup d’état in Prague culminating on 25 February 1948. Much like Lenin in Red Square, the mummified body of the leader of that coup , Klement Gottwald, was in fact exhibited at the National Mausoleum from shortly after his death in March, 1953, until 1962 – when it had reached such an advanced state of decay due to the mishandled mummification process that it had to be cremated.
To the outside observer, there is an important clue there in the gaping contrast between the ostentatious facilities built to celebrate Gottwald’s legacy and the ultimate messy disposal of his remains – although the Czechs themselves long ago dismissed him as merely a stooge for Stalin, affording him little to no respect (unless required to by their position) even back when he was the country’s president. Now, just after the commemoration of the 61st anniversary of that coup, comes an article in the largest-circulation Czech broadsheet newspaper Mladá fronta dnes disclosing that things were even worse than most Czechs had assumed: for most of his presidency, Gottwald was in fact a serious alcoholic completely incapable of carrying out his presidential functions. (more…)