John Lennon is the co-founder of the most successful band in the world, the Beatles. After his death on December 8, 1980, he was considered a pacifist hero for the Czech Republic’s youth. An intricately made image of him was painted by an artist on an ordinary wall which has since been named the Lennon Wall. It is located in a secluded area which is directly opposite the French Embassy. The wall has been filled with countless Beatles lyrics ever since. There are also plenty of graffiti geared towards politics. Although the Czech police have tried their best to keep the wall clean and art free, they were never successful. The Czech police have painted the wall numerous times but Prague’s youth continued to use it as a political freedom board. Communists have banned most Western pop music in the country. There were even some Czech musicians who were put to jail for playing Western songs during their performances.
After 1989, the graffiti and paintings on the Lennon Wall have started to fade. The political images and messages which were written on it have slowly washed out. A small portion of his eyes was the only image left of Lennon’s face. However, tourists from all over the world who visited the Lennon Wall thought about restoring it with their own contributions. The Knights of Malta own the property where the wall is located. They have continuously repainted it several times in the past. Within only a short while, the paintings and graffiti were covering the wall again. There were also plenty of peace messages, images of Lennon himself and other random tourist graffiti. Because of this outpour of love for John Lennon which is clearly demonstrated through the Lennon Wall, the Knights of Malta have finally decided to leave it as is. They didn’t bother painting the wall white anymore since they knew that their efforts would only be put to waste.
John Lennon is a hero to the Czechs because of his influences during the Communist regime. The pacifist youth from Eastern and Central Europe looked up to his songs for hope amidst their lack of freedom. He inspired the youth to fight for freedom of speech. Ever since he was murdered in 1980, the Lennon Wall has been an avenue for artists and tourists to express their feelings towards the government. The Czech authorities have even threatened to imprison young activists during the time. However, this didn’t stop from coming to the Lennon Wall during the night and scrawling graffiti of their odes to their hero. There were even surveillance cameras set up in the hopes that people would stop vandalizing the wall. The Communist police also tried posting an overnight guard to oversee the activities on the Lennon Wall. However, none of these worked out successfully. Until this day, the wall still remains to be a historic stopover for both locals and tourists. The Lennon Wall clearly represents John Lennon’s ideas about freedom of speech, peace and non-violent rebellions against the Communist regime.