The history of the town
1. The beginnings of the town, the Middle Ages
The first traces of human settlement in the region come from the Neolithic Age (ca 5000 BC.). The early medieval settlement of Prostějov probably arose in the location of the present Petrské Sq. and Újezd Street. The market village in the location of the present Main Sq. developed from the mid-13th century.
1141 the name of the village of Prostějovice appears for the first time in historical records
1213 the King of Bohemia Přemysl I. and the Margrave of Moravia Vladislav Jindřich stay in Prostějov
13th century Prostějov is mentioned as a market village with a toll-gate
1359 Prostějov is owned by Čeněk and Ondřej of Šelemberk (from this time until 1848, Prostějov has the status of being subject to feudal lords)
1365 Prostějov is mentioned as a small town
before 1390 Prostějov is acquired by the Lords of Kravaře, and attached to the Plumlov Estate
1390 Margrave Jošt grants Prostějov the privilege of holding annual fairs (tantamount to its promotion to town status)
1391 Petr of Kravaře founds the monastery of the Order of Augustinian Friars
1406 the privilege awarded by Petr of Kravaře extends the municipal authoritiy by introducing Olomouc (Magdeburg) authority in place of the former Brno authority.
before 1430 Hussite incursion and destruction of the Augustinian Monastery
1431 the town is ransacked by troops of Albrecht of Austria
1454 the beginning of the Jewish community
1466 the spear side lineage of the House of the Lords of Kravaře dies out, until 1495 it Johanka (Joan) of Kravaře and her husband Jan (John) Heralt of Kunštát
1486 Prostějov is granted the privilege of a second annual fair by King Matthias Corvinus.
2. The Early Modern Period
The Plumlov Estate and the town of Prostějov successively belonged to two important noble families: from 1495 - 1599 to the Lords of Perštejn, and from 1599 - 1848 to the Dukes of Liechtenstein. Whereas in the 16th century (in the "golden age" of towns) Prostějov was bustling with life and the town was developing rapidly, its renewal after the Thirty Years' War was very slow. Revival began in the 18th century (Jewish trade, foundation of masteries, development of the arts, etc.).
1495 Vratislav I. of Pernštejn begins the construction of stone walls around the town
1499 the first mention of the Bohemian (Moravian) Brethren; the community becomes stronger after the ban on the Unity of Brethren in Bohemia (1547)
1522 dissolution of the monastery of the order of Augustinians, the rectory is held by the Utraquists (Calixtines)
1521 – 1540 sculptural work carried out by masonery workshop founded by Jan of Pernštejn (Old Town Hall, Chateau, "Black Yard" portal)
1527 "Epistles to the Boleslav Brethren" by Jan Dubčanský, the first book printed in Czech on Moravian territory, is published by the printing house of Kašpar Aorg
1578 – 1582 reconstruction of the Chateau by Vratislav II. of Pernštejn
1583 town-clerk Jan Bělkovsky of Rousov begins ”the Chronicle of the Town of Prostějov”
1599 the municipality provides finances for Karel of Liechtenstein, enabling him to purchase the Plumlov Estate
1622 – 1628 the beginning of re-Catholicism, expulsion of people of other faiths (dissenters)
1643 the destructive Swedish raid
1697 the Great Fire
1727 – 1730 foundation of the Monastery of the Order of Hospitallers
1728 construction of the Imperial Road (Vienna -) Brno - Prostějov - Olomouc (- Silesia, Poland)
1754/1755 the famous painter F. A. Sebastini settles and works in Prostějov (died 1789)
1756 (1764) foundation of the hospice (monastery) of the Capuchin Order)
3. From the Enlightenment to 19th century industrialisation
The reforms of the Enlightenment (Age of Reason) had a considerable impact in the fields of medicine, health, education, religion, and municipal administration. The foundations of modern life in Prostejov, however, were establish during the period of industrialisation in the 19th century (Gründerzeit). Thanks primarily to the strong Jewish community Prostějov became an important industrial centre. Prostějov's clothing industry, which was in mass production from 1840s, put the town in a leading position by the end of the 19th century in the entire Austro-Hungarian Empire (manufacturing one-third of all clothing produced in the Empire). According to censuses of 1872 and 1890 Prostějov had the third highest population in Moravia, after Brno and Jihlava. In the l860s and 70s various cultural and civic associations and athletic clubs came into existence, such as: the Měšt'anská beseda cultural association, the Sokol sports movement, the Orlice and Vlastimila Choirs and the Amateur Dramatics Association.
1784 dissolution of the monastery of the Capuchin Order by Emperor Joseph II.
1886 introduction of regulated "Josephinian" municipal administration (strengthening the influence of the state executive to the detriment of municipal self-government)
1801 foundation of the Veith Ehrenstamm textile mill
1823 the esplanade (the first promenade in Prostějov) replacing the town walls to the north
1849 foundation of the Book-club
1850 administrative reforms: municipal administration replaced by an office reporting to a Board of Representatives
1855 Prostejov becomes the seat of an administrative district
1869 the beginning of the demolition of the town fortifications
1870 opening of the railway line Nezamyslice - Prostějov - Olomouc; gasworks (public lighting)
1871 foundation of a Czech "real-school" (non-classical secondary school) by the "Civic Credit-bank”
1873 foundation of the Záložna Credit Association (and Pawn-shop)
1878 foundation of the František Wichterle Engineering Works, which merged (1919) with the engineering works of František and Josef Kovařík (founded in 1894)
1882 foundation of the Manufacturers' Union, which, in 1884, initiated the foundation of the Museum
1885 foundation of the Municipal Hospital; foundation of the Konečný & Nedělník Co. (which carried out most architectural projects of importance in the town up to 1930)
4. The Turn of the Century
A period of all-round development, which was especially intense in the field of culture.
1892 Czech majority in the Town Hall, the Mayor elect is Karel Vojáček (died 1898), Prostějov becomes largest town in Moravia with Czech administration
1893 The Ethnographic Exhibition; a provisional town planning regulation
1898 electrification of Prostějov
1899 foundation of a (Czech) classical college (secondary school)
1900 foundation of the new Municipal Cemetary
1906 – 1907 construction of the National House
1907 foundation of the firm of Theodor Dostal, from 1909 the Vulkania Co-operative, for the manufacture ofartistic metalwork
1908 opening of the Municipal Museum in the adapted building of the Old Town Hall
1911 – 1914 construction of the New Town Hall
1917 brutal repression of a demonstration by hungry workers
5. From the foundation of the Czechoslovakian Republic to the present day
The economic and cultural development of Prostějov continued after 1918. It was later paralysed by the Nazi occupation and by the totalitarian Communist government. Among the "socialist construction projects" we should mention the ring of prefabricated tower-blocks around Prostějov (built in 1963 - 1990), the extensive demolition in the historical centre, and the department store on T. G. Masaryk Square.
1922 contract for the construction of a military airfield
1923 approval of a town plan by J. Kumpošt and J. Peňáz (an important architectural project - náměstí Spojenců, (Allies Square), and surrounding streets).
1933 – 1936 work carried out by the Reysek Centre of Creative Artists of the Haná Region
1933 – 1945 the outcome of WW II.: ca 1430 dead (1300 of them Jews), the beginning of the liquidation of the Jewish community
The Holocaust (from the Greek ὁλόκαυστος holókaustos: hólos, "whole" and kaustós, "burnt"), also known as The Shoah (Hebrew: השואה, HaShoah, "calamity"; Yiddish: חורבן, Churben or Hurban, from the Hebrew for "destruction"), was the genocide of approximately six million European Jews duringWorld War II, a programme of systematic state-sponsored extermination by Nazi Germany. Two-thirds of the population of nine million Jews who had resided in Europe before the Holocaust were killed.
The persecution and genocide were carried out in stages. Various legislation to remove the Jews from civil society, predominantly the Nuremberg Laws, was enacted in Nazi Germany years before the outbreak of World War II. Concentration camps were established in which inmates were used as slave labour until they died of exhaustion or disease. Where the Third Reich conquered new territory in eastern Europe, specialized units called „Einsatzgruppen“ murdered Jews and political opponents in mass shootings. The Germans required Jews to be confined in overcrowded ghettos before being transported by freight train to extermination camps where, if they survived the journey, the majority of them were systematically killed in gas chambers. Every arm of Nazi Germany's bureaucracy was involved in the logistics that led to the genocide, turning the country into what one Holocaust scholar has called "a genocidal state".
The Holocaust in Prostějov
During WWII Nazi despotism of the harshest form was exerted in Prostějov in dealing with the town’s Jewish community.
Prostějov was often referred to as the “Jerusalem of Haná”, as the town had an extraordinarily large Jewish community, all the more significant for its extensive economic power. A tragic paradox occurred here as most of the Jewish believers spoke German and had previously, at least partly, claimed German nationality, whereas the actual German population of the town was relatively small. In contrast, the Jewish town of Prostějov was one of the largest by Moravian standards. In 1930 the town had 740 inhabitants who claimed Jewish nationality, but 1442 who prescribed to the Jewish faith. It was the Jewish residents, irrespective of language or nationality, who became the victims of the most extensive, most extreme and most atrocious persecution by the Nazi regime, resulting in mass genocide.
On the basis of the racist “Nuremberg Laws” the Jews of the protectorate were relatively quickly forced into the position of not only being allegedly less important, but being an utterly contemptible and harmful element. Jews were immediately deprived of all powers to fulfil state and public functions and gradually also denied many important occupations such as those of advocate, doctor etc. Young Jews were expelled from all secondary schools, not to speak of universities, and from 1940 were even barred from primary schools. After the arianisation of the majority of property, Jews in Prostějov were subjected to registration and expulsion from all council houses and flats. As in other towns they were also deprived of radios, cameras, bicycles, jewellery, fur coats, etc. These restrictions were all topped by the order for compulsory wearing of yellow six-pointed Jewish stars bearing the word JUDE (Jew), which applied from 1st September 1941. Like other towns in the Protectorate, with the exception of Prague, the Jewish religious community was broken up and suppressed, Jewish services were forbidden along with other religious ceremonies. The synagogue in Prostějov was closed, although it was not subjected to the same desecration and destruction as the synagogue in Olomouc.
After the arianisation of property and the complete degradation of the human dignity of Jewish families, in 1942 the Nazi authorities embarked upon their worst atrocity with the deportation of all Jews from the protectorate, initially to the Terezín ghetto and subsequently to labour and extermination camps. In Prostějov this happened in the short space of 14 days in June and July 1942 when, along with other people from central Moravia, the Jewish townspeople were put into four rail transports from Olomouc to Terezín. From there, however, the majority of them were not taken to Auschwitz concentration camp, as was the case with other transports. Instead they were soon taken by train to Malý Trostinec and to the Belarusian town of Baranovič, where they were liquidated either by being gassed by specially adapted trucks driving by or being shot by members of SS units. According to one report 1600 Jewish people of Prostějov fell victim to Nazi genocide. The complete post-war list of Jewish victims of the holocaust in the Prostějov region, i.e. with a few exceptions all from the town of Prostějov itself, bears the names of 1227 people. It has to be stressed that, in this case, no Jew was spared the Nazi monstrosity. Only a few individuals managed to escape at the last moment and flee abroad.
Extract taken from the book – “Prostějov dějiny města 2“ (Prostějov Town History 2)
Some photos of victims of the holocaust can be seen here.
Days for Israel
1947 – 1951 construction of the new railway station
1953 a daring protest against the removal of the statue of T. G. Masaryk from the square
1968 three citizens shot dead by Soviet occupation troops
1990 after 44 years the first free elections are held; the historical centre of Prostějov is declared an urban conservation zone.