The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain

Peter Sís

The greatest threat to our continued freedom could come from our own government. Peter Sís’ The Wall is an autobiography based on the author’s diary and sketches from his childhood behind the Iron Curtain in Czechoslovakia in the 1960s. The book is like a graphic novel, and it very graphically documents the way freedom of speech, assembly and expression were repressed by the government. Sís describes how people were punished for failing to display the flag or participate in compulsory nationalistic activities. Children were encouraged to inform party members about their parents’ activities. Secret police were everywhere. Sís and his friends eventually learned about The Beatles, grew their hair long and secretly formed a rock band. Because these things were not permitted, he created his art in secret, too. Many artists were sent to prison for speaking out, and Sís’ uncle would ultimately die there. The Wall is a good reminder of what it means to be free, and how important it is to protect our freedom, and to never take it for granted.