Cross and the Guard of Honor on Old Town Square in front of the Town Hall

Soon after the end of the May Uprising, the damage and the number of victims who lost their lives in the struggle for liberation from the German occupation was documented throughout the city. A temporary memorial – a cross composed of beams from the burnt town hall – was erected in their honour in the symbolic centre of the city, below the bay chapel of the Old Town Hall. A guard of honor stood beside it and there was a plaque with the inscription, “Honor to the heroes who lost their lives here.” See http://www.vets.cz/vpm/333-pametni-deska-popravy-27-ceskych-panu-1621/ (accessed 19 June 2017). People laid flowers at the memorial.

Current research shows that the number of victims memorialised by the cross climbed to 1600 dead or murdered and 3000 injured Czechs in the greater area of Prague. 300 people died were killed by General Vlasov's Russian Liberation Army (200 of whom were murdered in military hospitals by Soviet soldiers immediately after the liberation). 601 people of German nationality were listed among the dead by 20 May 1945.Jindřich Marek a kol., Padli na barikádách. Padlí a zemřelí ve dnech Pražského povstání 5.–9. května 1945, Vojenský historický ústav Praha, 2015, pp. 8–9. The victims of the Uprising are commemorated today in memorials and plaques at various places in Prague.

The symbolic cross to the victims is still preserved today in the interior of the town hall, in the memorial hall found on the ground floor of the tower. The beams came from a rare, burnt wooden ceiling decorated with Renaissance painting in the municipal hall in the oldest part of the town hall.Josef Hájek, Movité památky na Staroměstské radnici v Praze, in: Staletá Praha XXVIII, č. 1, 2012, pp. 47–48.

Sudek took this photograph from the interior of the burnt out wing of the ton hall by Sprenger and Nobile, allowing him to also capture the crowd across from the subject.Josef Voříšek also photographed the cross in a similar way. Voříšek was friends with Josef Sudek. Jan Mlčoch writes: “The following year [in 1942] Voříšek and Jan Sudek began documenting St Vitus Cathedral in detail because of their concern it would be bombed.” Josef Voříšek, Praha 1945: očima fotografa, Svět křídel, Cheb, 2013, p. 123. Enlarging the photograph shows that there was another photographer in front of the people, taking snapshots with a camera and cine-film.The photographer has still not been identified. Unlike this anonymous reporter, Sudek took his pictures with a large format camera on a tripod and used large-scale negatives measuring 13 x 18 cm. With his position further from the crowd – as in the case when he took photos of the crowd during the memorial on 13 May from the roof of the Kinsky Palace – he managed to get an artistic and impressive, monumental shot while at the same time it allowed him to have a safe location for his large and fragile camera.