The bunkers of the Prague line are safe not only for the border, but also for Prague. The occupiers destroyed them for fear of the resistance
In the years 1935-1938, Czechoslovakia built fortifications formed by concrete bunkers of various sizes and types, especially in the area of the border mountains. A lesser-known part of this defensive line is the so-called Prague Line, a strip of concrete fortresses stretching through Bohemia from north to south. There were hundreds of them, only a few survived. They are a reminder of the agreements of the powers that deprived Czechoslovakia of the opportunity to effectively defend itself against aggression.
The end of September is associated in the history of Czechoslovakia with an eighty-three-year-old – but still alive – painful experience, which culminated in the agreement of the powers in Munich, Bavaria, and ends with an occupation and a war of hitherto unthinkable proportions.
For the republic, the last democratic system in the wider area, the conference of Germany, Italy, France and Great Britain on the night of September 30, 1938 meant the withdrawal of territory with more than fifty percent of the German population of the Nazi Third Reich. That night was coined, and later the term Munich betrayal took hold. At that moment, a deep mark was burned into the memory of the nation.
Czechoslovakia, which we agree to eventually accept, lost over 40,000 square reasons of territory and almost five million inhabitants, mostly German, but also Polish and Hungarian nationalities. At the same time, it lost the opportunity to more effectively defend the great superiority through an ingenious system of fortifications, which were built in the second half of the 1930s.
Photo: Ministry of Defense of the Czech Republic
Let us recall that the willingness to defend the republic against the expected aggression of Germany was extremely high, especially among the Czechs. During the general mobilization in September 1938, a quarter of a million reservists went to the border bunkers and fortresses. Retreat without a fight was out of the question, although two thirds of the border bunkers were not completed at all and the artillery armament of the fortress was only produced at the end of September. However, it was decided elsewhere. The soldiers had to leave their positions and leave them to the Germans, Hungarians and Poles.
The fortified lines did not only follow the borders with enemy Germany, Austria and Hungary, there is a belt of bunkers in the interior, which have formed a catchment line in case of breaking the border fortified areas and the retreat of the army to the east.
A long line of “řopíků” (the name originated from the abbreviation of the Directorate of Fortification Works) intersected Bohemia from north to south, each from the west encircling Prague with a large arch. The second fortress line was basically to separate Bohemia and Moravia and the third approximately Moravia and Slovakia. Only the first mentioned strip of fortresses was built between 1936 and 1938.
Only the part stretching between the Vltava near Mělník through the Beroun region to the south to Slapy – called the Prague Line – had 834 bunkers connected by a network of infantry and anti-tank barriers, although even this line was not completely completed. During the September mobilization, it was also largely armed and occupied by soldiers.
According to prazskacara.cz website they have to defend the Prague Line in eight hundred concrete bunkers – with a main defensive line over 100 reasons long – almost five and a half thousand men. The overwhelming others were fortresses vz. 37 with two machine guns and a crew of seven people.
The strip of “asparagus” planted in forest depressions, on the tops of steep rocky massifs, notches of streams or river valleys, was so dense that one machine gun in the fortress loophole was secured on average every seventy meters of the front. Each such weapon, and that there were over 1.5 thousand of them on the Prague line, then had to be assigned ten thousand rounds. If the machine gunners were given a chance and fired all the ammunition entrusted to them, eight rounds would fall on every centimeter of the front.
It was a wall in front of which even the strongest army would bleed tragically. And the leader of the Third Reich, Adolf Hitler, knew it. He was relieved by the signing of the Munich Agreement. He did not have to conquer the Czechoslovak border fortifications, and after the occupation of the republic in March 1939, his army avoided the clash on the Prague Line and related lines. The existence of the local concrete bunkers has been sealed.
The occupation authorities usually had them blown up in 1939. They rightly feared that they might be detected in the domestic resistance. And in the rear of the German armies, it would be all the more sensitive.
The second phase of the destruction of the Czech fortifications on the Prague Line followed in the years 1942 to 1943, when the imperial heavy industry needed to obtain insufficient material. Iron reinforcements of concrete objects were suitable. Hundreds of objects completely disappeared from the landscape. It is perhaps only a depression in the field and a few pieces of concrete. And sometimes not.
The occupiers saved only a few fortresses, which were located too close to houses, bridges, railways, roads or power poles. And they also preferred to cover stones inside and pour concrete over them. As a result, 38 bunkers are still preserved. They are a memento for the painful night of September 30, 1938. And also for the 25,000 Czechoslovak soldiers who fell during World War II and their victims erase the false impression of a non-fighting nation. After all, among the European allies (excluding, for example, Romania and other countries that were a substantial part of the war on the side of the Third Reich), it was the seven highest number of casualties.