Row over plans to name Prague square after Franz Kafka

PRAGUE, Feb 18, 2000 -- (AFP) Plans to rename a square in Prague's historic center after the author Franz Kafka have set the city's government against the local borough in a clash of bureaucratic wills, a city official said Thursday.

"Prague's street naming commission has already given its approval to the plan," said administrator Jaroslav Peterka, adding that a final decision would be made within two months.

But the mayor of the quarter which includes the square, Jan Buergermeister, is strongly opposed to the renaming of the square behind the Church of St Nicholas in the honor of the author of "The Trial" and "The Castle."

"Kafka would be horrified if he knew that one day someone would name somewhere after him," he told a newspaper.

The city's most famous author, Kafka, a Jew who wrote in German, has never been commemorated in this way since his death in 1924. His works were treated with contempt by the city's Nazi occupiers between 1939 and 1945, and indifference by the communist regime which replaced them.

Since the Czech Republic's return to democracy the idea of renaming the square has been put forward by a Social Democrat member of parliament, but opposed by Buergermeister, a member of the right-wing Civic Democratic Party, and others keen to preserve Prague's traditional street names.

The renaming has also been a pet project since 1963 of Professor Eduard Goldstuecker, former Czechoslovak ambassador to Israel and one of the world's foremost authorities on German-language Czech literature.

Peterka told AFP that Buergermeister's borough authority had only a consultative role in the decision making process and that the city would have the final say.

Original article