Memorial plaque to honour members of former forced-labour camps unveiled

Autor: Oldřich Holeček

A ceremony to unveil the memorial plaque to members of labour camps who built former "Internacional" military hotel, sports grounds Juliska and military housing facilities in Prague was held at the end of this June at the building of baths and Juliska Stadium in Prague-Dejvice.

The memories recall the time when former Czechoslovak People’s Army (1954 - 1990) joined the communist regime practice of suppressing the "class enemy" and created the Auxiliary Technical Battalions where to it sent "politically unreliable" young men.

Men, and in several cases also young women, served as conscripts of the Czechoslovak military but without weapons. At the military forced-labour camps they worked predominantly at construction works, uranium, coal and stone mining pits. They broadly participated in construction of the Central Military Hospital in Prague.

  • The Czechoslovak military had created some 23 Auxiliary Technical Battalions (ATBs) of different levels from 1950 and the last four camps of forced labour were disbanded in 1954.
  • About 60 thousand young people “served” at the camps, some 400 lost their life there.
  • Their conscription service lasted from two to four years.
  • Members of ATBs were paid for their work but they had to reimburse the military for accommodation, food and services connected with the stay at the camp.
  • Uniforms of members of these camps had black shoulder boards, so they were colloquially called and known as the “Black Barons”.

A number of Czech and Slovak sportsmen, who were labelled as the „unreliable“, also worked, as the “Black Barons”, at constructions projects in Prague together with sons of farmers, businessmen, noblemen, workers, clergymen and graduates of universities.

The ceremony at the military sports centre facility Juliska was attended by representatives of the Office of the President, Ministry of Defence, local government of Prague 6, Association Soldiers Together, Association of ATBs, and the Military Sports Centre Dukla. The memorial plaque was consecrated by monk Jordan Jaromir Vinklarek.

Posted: July 11, 2011