Part 6: Iron Curtain in Bratislava
Life behind the barbed wire in Communist Czechoslovakia
Imagine having a flat in Bratislava with a balcony facing Austria, but you have almost no chance to get there. Travelling from the socialist Czechoslovakia for most people was limited to a few countries of the Eastern Bloc. Barbed wire was protecting people from the imperialists and from their own escapes to the West. Life behind the Iron Curtain was monitored and often depressing. The desire for freedom was sometimes stronger than the risk of being caught and injured, or even killed. This chapter tells you what it was like to live so close and so far from the democratic world.
Did you know?
- A joke about the barbed wire in Bratislava: A young boy asks his father: "Papa, who lives behind the fence?" The father replies: "We do, son, we do."
- 130,000 citizens escaped from Slovakia during Communism. Most of them during the Prague Spring and after the occupation by the Warsaw Pact armies in 1968.
- Diplomatic Hotel Bôrik in Bratislava, located on the hill with view to Austria, was probably spied on by the CIA from the hill behind the Iron Curtain.
- In Bratislava, people could catch TV and radio signals from Austria, despite communists having installed jammers to block the signal.
- People escaped via balloons, aeroplanes, air tractors, home-made tanks, a helicopter, diving-suit, or bobsled. It was a festival of human creativity.
The barbed wire was to be seen daily by thousands of people from their homes in Petržalka
The remnants of the anti-aircraft military base at Devínska Kobyla hill
Devín castle situated above the confluence of rivers Danube and Morava - one of the most significant castles in Slovakia had limited access for public due to proximity to Austrian borders
Current reconstructed part of the Iron Curtain at Devínska Nová Ves