Sunday, February 11, 2018

Brno Street Name History

When Brno was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, all of the street names were written in German.  After 1918, and an independent Czechoslovakia, the street names were written in Czech, although many still had unofficial German versions.  During occupation, the streets were again written in German but now had unofficial Czech versions.  Since the end of WWII, in 1945, all of the signs have been in Czech.

In the 1990s the street names changed again.  Like most countries after the fall of communism, many places in Czechland starting removing communist era names and giving them new names.  Here are some of the biggest name changes that I've come across in some of the various Brno neighbourhoods.

Brno Centre
In 1915, the main square in the centre was called Kaiser-Franz-Josef-Platz.  In 1918, it became náměstí Svobody (Freedom Square).  On 17.3.1939, it was named Adolf-Hitler-Platz during his one day visit to Brno.  The next day it became Freiheitsplatz.  In 1942, it was renamed náměstí Viktoria and in 1945 it once again became náměstí Svobody.

In 1915, the Krautmarkt became Kaiser-Wilhelm-Platz.  In 1918, it became Zelný trh (the Czech version of Krautmarkt).  In 1952, it became náměstí 25. února (February 25th Square) to commemorate the communists taking power in 1948.  In 1990, the square's name was changed back to Zelný trh.

In 1990, náměstí Rudé armády (Red Army Square) became Moravské náměstí (Moravian Square).  The Red Army soldier is still there.

Nová became Reinhard-Heydrich-Straße (třída Reinhardt Heydricha) in 1942, in honour of Reinhard Heydrich (1904-1942), the Nazi Reich Protector in Bohemia and Moravia who was assassinated.  In 1945, it became Nová again.  Then in 1946 it became Lidická, in honour of the village of Lidice.  The village in Bohemia was destroyed on 10 June 1942 in retaliation for Heydrich's assassination.

Alois Rašín
Kostelní became ulice 9. května (May 9th Street) in commemoration of the end of WWII.  Remember that the Soviet Union and other communist countries celebrated on 9 May.  After the Velvet Revolution, the day was changed here to 8 May to match the correct time zone of when Nazi Germany actually surrendered.  In 1991, the street became Rašínova to honour Alois Rašín (1867-1923), a politician and national economist who was assassinated.

T.G. Masaryk
Masarykova is the main Brno centre street that runs from the train station to námeěstí Svobody.  In 1939, it was renamed Hermann-Göring-Straße (třída Hermanna Göringa), after Hermann Göring (1893-1946), the German Nazi Air Force Marshal and Minister of Defence.  On 10 may 1945, it became Masarykova again after Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk (1850-1937), the father of Czechoslovakia.  In 1955, the communists changed the name to třída Vítězství (Victory Road) in honour of the Red Army's victory over Nazi occupation.

In 1968, even after the Soviet and Warsaw Pact forces invaded, the street once again became Masarykova.  Surprise...in 1970, it was renamed třída Vítězství again.  In 1989, after the Velvet Revolution, the street became Masarykova and the name has stood for almost 30 years.


In 1946, Koliště was renamed Stalinovy sady (Stalin Gardens) after Josef Stalin.  In 1953, it became sady Osvobození (Liberation Gardens) in honour of Brno's liberation from Nazi occupation in WWII.  In 1990, it got it's old name back and the street is again called Koliště.

Kobližná was renamed Gagarinova in 1961 in honour of Yuri Gagarin (1934-1968), the Soviet cosmonaut, who in 1961, became the first person to fly in a rocket.  In 1990, Kobližná got its old street name back.

Not everything communist was done away with.  In 1946, náměstí Richarda Wagnera (Richard Wagner Square) was renamed Malinovského náměstí (Malinovsky Square) after Soviet Marshal Rodion Malinovsky (1898-1967), the army commander who liberated Brno from Nazi occupation in 1945.  This is the square where the Mahen Theatre is and there's a Malinovsky memorial nearby.

Veveří
From 1915 to 1918, Veveří used to be called Hindenburgstraße (Hindenburgova), after Paul von Hindenburg (1847-1934), the German Field Marshal and President.

Václav Kounic
In 1946, Giskrova was remanded Leninova (Lenin Street).  In 1990, the street was renamed Kounicova, after Count Václav Kounic (1848-1913), a Czech nobleman, lawyer and politician who supported Czech secondary school in Brno and who a patron of the Brno university colleges for Czech students.

Obilní trh was renamed Stalingradské náměstí (Stalingrad Square) after the Soviet city in 1946.  In 1963, it became náměstí Sovětských hrdinů (Soviet Heros Square) until it once again became Obilní trh in 1990.

Milan Ratislav Štefánik
In 1946, Pražská (Prague Street) became Eisenhowerova, after Dwight Eisenhower (1890-1969), the general of the western allied forces in WWII.  In 1948, the street was renamed Dimitrovova, after George Dimitrov (1882-1949), the Bulgarian communist party official and statesman.  In 1990, it became Štefánikova, named after Milan Ratislav Štefánik (1880-1919), the Czechoslovak astrophysicist and general who was the country's first Minister of Defence.  He helped Masaryk create an independent Czechoslovak Republic.

Královo Pole
Kosmas
In 1958, Manželů Rosenbergových (The Rosenbergs Street) was built in honour of Ethel (1919-1953) and Julius (1921-1953) Rosenberg who were executed in the USA after being found guilty of disclosing atomic secrets to the Soviet Union.  In 1991, the street was renamed Kosmova after Kosmas (1045-1125), the founder of Czech historiography.

Jan Skácel
In 1946, Moskevská (Moscow Street) was built.  In 1990, it became Skácelova, in honour of Jan Skácel (1922-1989), a Brno poet, writer, translator and publicist.

Židenice
In 1961, náměstí Komsomolců was built.  Komsomols were members of the communist youth league in the Soviet Union.  In 1991, it became Juliánovské náměstí.

Černá Pole
Milada Horáková
In 1946, Francouzská (France Street), became Churchillova in honour of Winston Churchill (1874-1965).  In 1948, it became třída Jana Masaryka (Jan Masaryk Road), named after Czech diplomat and politician Jan Masaryk (1886-1948), the son of President Masaryk.  Then in 1952, the name was changed to třída Říjnové revoluce (October Revolution Road) to commemorate the 1917 October Revolution in Russia.  In 1990, it became Milady Horáková, in honour of Milada Horáková (1901-1950), a lawyer and sociologist, who was executed by the communist regime following a political show trial.

I'm sure that there are many others.  The name changes over the years is like a living history class.  I never would have known that I lived on the corner of Lenin Street.

I bet all medium to large cities in the U.S. have a Martin Luther King Street.  Most Czech towns all have a Masarykova, Dobrovského, Dvořákova, Jungmannova, KomenskéhoPalackého, and Sokolská.

1 comment:

  1. What was Dimitrovova called in 1944 was it Prazska or something else

    ReplyDelete