Changing Heroism

Plzeň, most Ivana Magora Jirouse, ČTK (Petr Eret, 2013)/
Pilsen, the bridge of Ivan Magor Jirous, ČTK (Petr Eret, 2013)


  • What does naming a bridge after a person like Ivan Jirous (you can find more about him on the internet) say about the political changes in Central Europe?
  • Take a look at other materials in the “Normalization — Dissidents” section. How did the dissidents’ social status change between the 1970s and the 2000s?
  • How do cities decide who to name bridges or other public places after? Who are the bridges named after in your city? Do you know of an example where a name was changed, and why that happened?


After the Velvet Revolution, which marked a change in the political regime, the public image of dissidents radically changed. People who had recently been publicly discredited (Losers and usurpers) became reminders of the violence of the communist regime and their memories became the basis for the memory of the newly emerging democratic regime.

The change of official memory is also visible in the symbolic topography of Czech cities. Public squares with names like “builders of socialism” and streets named after Lenin were renamed in honour of people who had been persecuted or who had fought against the communist regime.

In 2013, in the West Bohemian city of Pilsen, a bridge was named after a representative of the underground movement and dissident, Ivan Jirous. The poet, nicknamed “Magor” (“Lunatic”) (1944 – 2014), was imprisoned several times in the seventies by the communist regime, whose totalitarian tendencies he confronted with his nonconformist lifestyle. In the new democratic society, the lifestyle of members of the underground movement was in many cases not regarded as particularly acceptable or admirable, but it was also not criminalised. Ivan “Magor” Jirous thus does not correspond to the traditional notion of a great figure after whom a city square is usually named, but this paradox is part of the constitution of the new official memory of communism in the Czech Republic.