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The Historical Educational Trail “Jáchymov Hell”

Way of Cross

You are at the beginning of the historical educational trail „Jáchymov Hell“, which leads little known, beautiful sites containing unforgettable history. You're in the centre of Jáchymov, a famous town with five hundred year old mining tradition. But the glorious mining past is marked by tragic events the last period from 1945 to the early 1660ies. Then, uranium ore was exploited in Jáchymov in the interest of the superpower games of Soviet Union. Free mining profession has come to lift the political interests of one party rule. The Jáchymov was the once opened uranium ore deposits in the Soviet sphere of influence. First, German prisoners of war worked there, but they were soon replaced by prisoners of „domestic production“. In surroundings of Jáchymov and Horní Slavkov, 18 prison camps were established in the years 1949–1953. As you can see on the trail, the camps were later destroyed almost without a trace. The camps were named according to the nearest municipalities, but more often by mines in which vicinity were established.

The situation of the labour camps in surroundings of Jáchymov (1952)

The camps were quickly filled by thousands of prisoners who were forced into strenuous exhausting work in shafts. But even that was not enough, and the inhuman conditions in the labour camps were no exception. Prisoners were in many cases confirmed by their captors in the belief that they are only „MUKL’s“ (“Muž Určený K Likvidaci” = “man determined for liquidation”). Until 1961, around 65,000 people had known misery life in the camps. In less than 15 years of mining was exhausted nearly 8,000 tons of uranium, the total amount of extracted material was many times more. Over 1100 km of tunnels had been excavated in the underground.

On a cross tunnel in the uranium mine (Emil Kotrba, 1978)

To commemorate the victims of political prisoners, 15 stones with the names of labour camps were fitted in front of the church of St. Joachim in the year 1996. The whole cycle is called „Way of Cross for Freedom.“ On the upper green island is installed the central sculpture named „Freedom Gate“.

The Jáchymov pitchblende

Useful information

The Nature Trail was created by the mining association “Barbora” in Jáchymov with the support of the Confederation of Political Prisoners and the Club of Czech Tourists.

GPS position

N 50° 22.329', E 12° 54.810'