Devín, Devín Castle
Slovanské nábrežie 1093/48, 841 10 Devín, Slovakia
  • Story
  • Place

Bridge across the Iron Curtain

Available in: English | Slovensky

On December 10, 1989 near Bratislava, on both sides of the river Danube by the Devín Castle, a project named Hello Europe took place. It was a people’s manifestation of desire for opening the borders and removing the barbed wire barricades. In reality, the event was planned as well as perceived as a nonviolent abolition of the Iron Curtain. The founders of the project were Martin Bútora and Ladislav Snopko, who belonged to the core of the founding members of the Public Against Violence Movement. Despite the fact that the realization of this kind of event was back then unimaginable, the organizers managed to carry it out even without any incidents. Although it was a very chilly day, tens of thousands of people joined the project and set out to the border crossing Berg. Thanks to many negotiations at the local authorities the organizers managed to guarantee that the people could cross the borders without any greater restrictions. This kind of movement at the Austrian border was until this time unprecedented. A huge mass of people set out to the Austrian side of the Danube River, where exactly opposite to the Devín Castle, they met with representatives of the Austrian side, particularly with the mayor of Hainburg. A temporary stage was built there from which several organizers spoke to the people. During this event approximately ten thousand people, mainly Bratislava citizens, gathered at the Devín Castle. Between these two big groups sailed a boat on the Danube, on which the loudspeaker system had been installed. It was strong enough to be heard by both riversides. The groups at the Devín Castle as well as on the Austrian bank had microphones, from where the signal was broadcasted by transmitters to loudspeakers placed on the boat. This way the aim of organizers was to create some kind of symbolic bridge of understanding that would connect both sides of the river Danube, which had been until then divided by barbed wire from the time of the Iron Curtain. The attendance of man named Karel Kryl was a unifying factor since Kryl, as an emigrant who worked in Radio Free Europe, and his songs were at the same time a symbol of resistance against the totalitarian communist regime in Czechoslovakia. By his presence Kryl connected both worlds divided by the Iron Curtain. There were more than a hundred thousand people present at this event; according to some estimates it may have been attended by approximately 150 thousand people in total.

Ladislav Snopko

Ladislav Snopko

Ladislav Snopko was born on December 9, 1949 in Košice. After finishing the secondary school, he studied medicine in his hometown for a while, but as he felt inclined toward archaeology, he decided to enrol at the one-year practice of archaeological research at Devin Castle. Afterwards he decided to focus on this field of science. In 1970 he was accepted to study at the Department of General History and Archaeology at the Faculty of Arts, Comenius University in Bratislava. He was successful and graduated in 1976. While studying at the university he met many eminent personalities of Slovak culture, science, and politics. They used to organize various cultural events such as Koncert Mladosti (Concert of Youth), Blues na Dunaji (Blues on Danube River), Folkfórum (Folk Forum), Gitariáda (Guitar Music Contest), which usually didn't correspond to the cultural policy of the regime, and therefore were under strict control of the State Security. Ladislav Snopko also contributed articles to various magazines, lead an archaeological research and historical reconstruction of the ancient site of Gerulata in Rusovce near Bratislava, and in years 1988 - 1989 he was the head of the secretariat in organisation called Kruh priateľov českej kultúry na Slovensku (Circle of Friends of the Czech Culture in Slovakia). During the revolutionary days in 1989, he was one of the founding members of the Public against Violence movement (VPN), which was officially established as the most important opposing force of the Velvet Revolution in Slovakia on November 19, 1989. On December 10, 1989, he and Martin Bútora organised a march under the slogan "Hello Europe," during which thousands of Bratislava citizens passed through the open Iron Curtain to Austria. From 1989 until 1991 when the Public against Violence ceased to exist, he worked as a member of the movement's crucial body, the Coordination Centre. In the years 1990 - 1992 he was a Minister of Culture of the Slovak Republic, the member of the Slovak National Council and the chief coordinator of culture, education, sports and tourism of the Central European Initiative countries. He was also a founder of the cultural fund called Pro Slovakia, the magazine Profil súčasného výtvarného umenia, (Shape of Contemporary Visual Art), and worked as a member of the council of Bratislava self-governing region.

Devín, Devín Castle

Available in: English | Slovensky

At the confluence of the Danube and Morava rivers, the ruins of the gothic Devín Castle lie on the castle hill. This massive cliff is a prominent feature of the landscape and there is a wonderful view from its top. Devín Castle lies very near the state border with Austria and during the communist totality, the Iron Curtain wire barriers were installed directly beneath it. For this reason, any movement by people at the top of the castle hill was attentively watched by members of the Border Guard.

Devín, Devín Castle

On this place

Bridge across the Iron Curtain

Bridge across the Iron Curtain

Ladislav Snopko
Do Not Paint Austria!

Do Not Paint Austria!

Jozef Chrena
Memory of Nations Places Mobile App
Get the app for free in your mobile app store!