Prostějov is a statutory town in Moravia, 15 km southwest of Olomouc and 45 km northeast of Brno, on the western edge of Haná, in the northern part of the Upper Moravian Valley, east of the Drahanská Highlands. The city is located at an altitude of 223 meters above sea level, on its edge flow rivers Hloučela and Romže. Approximately 44,000 people live here. The historical core of the city has been a city monument zone since 1990. Prostějov is the second largest city in the Olomouc region.
The first historical mention of the village
Prostějovice is from 1141. By the middle of the 13th century, it
developed into an important market village. At that time, German
settlers were invited here, who founded a new settlement on the site
of today's T. G. Masaryk Square, to which the rights of the original
settlement were transferred. On March 27, 1390, Prostějov was
granted the right of the annual market thanks to the lords of
Kravaře, which in fact became a town. In the Hussite period, the
promising development slowed down as the city suffered delays on
both sides; the insufficiently fortified Prostějov became easy prey
for the troops of Margrave Albrecht and was burned down in 1431. The
prosperity of the town was brought about by the establishment of the
Jewish town and especially after 1490 by the more than century-old
reign of the Pernštejn families, whose property became the town. In
1495, the city began the construction of stone walls with four gates
with bastions. Between 1521 and 1538, the townspeople built a
Renaissance town hall.
At the end of the 16th century, the city became the property of the Liechtensteins, which resulted in the stagnation of the city's development. The first book in Moravia was printed in Prostějov in 1527 by Kašpar Aorg's printing house. During the Thirty Years' War, the town was devastated and in 1697 a fire broke out, killing the town hall, the school and the church. Then the city began to acquire a Baroque character. Around the middle of the 17th century, mainly thanks to local Jews, the food, textile and clothing industries developed rapidly. In the 1960s, Prostějov was connected by rail with Brno and Olomouc. The 19th and 20th centuries changed the face of the city in the style of historicism and Art Nouveau. From the 1920s and especially the 1930s, functionalism became the dominant construction in Prostějov.
From the 1960s to the 1990s, Czech and German officials competed for the leadership of the city. Although the German-speaking population was in the minority, thanks to a curia system that preferred the richer classes, the city's leadership was German until 1892. Karel Vojáček became the first mayor of Czech nationality. During the First World War, in 1917 there were hunger storms in front of the district governor's building. Inexperienced military units called from Olomouc could not handle the situation and began firing at the crowd. During the shooting, 23 people died and another 80 were injured. To commemorate the event, a Monument to the Fallen Heroes was erected after the war, and the entire square was renamed Náměstí Fallen Heroes. During World War II, a large Jewish community was deported to extermination camps, where most (a total of 1227 people) perished.
On April 10, 1953, after midnight, the statue of Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk was removed from the main square. The act provoked a wave of disagreement and a demonstration took place in the afternoon. Police units and People's Militia were called to the city. In connection with the demonstration, 90 people were interrogated, 43 were sent to court and 20 people were sentenced to up to 1.5 years in prison. According to a later investigation, the chairman of the ONV, František Ján, officers of the flight school led by František Bernát and several members of the StB took part in the removal of the statue. A few days after the start of the Warsaw Pact occupation (1968), a shooting took place in the city. Soviet soldiers started firing and shooting three people, and many more were injured. Soldiers never said who was responsible for the incident.
Until 2002, Prostějov was the seat of the district office, and since 2012 it has been a statutory city headed by the mayor. There is currently a significant engineering and food industry in Prostějov. The preserved monuments include a bastion from the 15th century and a Renaissance town hall from the 16th century, today serving as a museum. The dominant feature of the town is the new town hall from 1914 with a tower 66 meters high and an astronomical clock. An important Czech scientist Otto Wichterle, a Gothic builder Matěj Rejsek, a philosopher Edmund Husserl, a painter Alois Fišárek and a poet Jiří Wolker were born in Prostějov. Karel Dostál-Lutinov, pastor, writer and poet of Catholic modernism, worked in Prostějov. Jan Sedláček, a member of the Czechoslovak parliament for the National Unification, was the mayor and grammar school teacher.
Jews in Prostějov
There was an important Jewish community in Prostějov, which was the second largest Jewish community in Moravia in the 18th and 19th centuries. In 1900, 1,680 Jews lived in Prostějov, the total population was 24,000. The following rabbis worked in Prostějov: Gershon Ashkenazi (ca. 1650), Meir Eisenstadt (ca. 1700); Nehemias Trebitsch (1825–1830), Löw Schwab (1830–1836), Hirsch Fassel (1836–1853), Adolf Schmiedl (1853–1869) and Emil Hoff (1870–1897). The demolition of the historical part of the city, which was nicknamed Haná Jerusalem (which was hence the nickname for the whole of Prostějov) is also described in the film Castle Infinity from 1983 with Pavel Kříž in the lead role.