New book portrays Prague under 'Big Brother'
The tome features surveillance photos taken by the Czechoslovakian communist secret police StB between 1969 and 1989.Prague -- A new photo book published last month sheds light on the scale of communist-era "Big Brother" surveillance by secret police in the former Czechoslovakian capital of Prague.
Prague seen through the lens of the secret police, published by the Czech Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes (USTR) and unveiled at the 15th Book World festival in Prague, documents figures ranging from Czech writer Milan Kundera to a cardinal leaving mass.
"A mind-blowing number of photos taken at great expense by police have been retained until today. We could have published hundreds, even thousands of books like this," USTR director Pavel Zacek told AFP.
He added that the black and white photos, taken by Czechoslovakian communist secret police StB between 1969 and 1989, mirrors the "Big Brother" surveillance machine encapsulated by British novelist George Orwell's book 1984.
"These photos were not taken by men researching an artistic project. They were motivated by the burning desire to dominate others," Zacek said, adding that the photos are the clearest indication of life in 1970s Prague.
"We see Prague full of scaffolding and buildings with chipped facades ... a Prague without tourists, without outdoor cafes... a grey city, sombre and looking dead," he said.
The communist regime in the former Czechoslovakia was overthrown after the November 1989 uprising -- known as the Velvet Revolution -- which led to the country's break-up in 1993 into the Czech Republic and Slovakia.