Železná Ruda, Černé jezero
Šumava National Reserve · Černé jezero 340 22 Železná Ruda, Czech Republic
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Crossing the border with a backpack

Available in: English | Česky

In the year 1948, Vladimír Beneš took part in some voluntary work in the border region of Šumava. His chief from the Boy Scout asked him whether he would like to accompany someone across the border. Beneš recalls: “I went to see my father and asked him what he thought about that. He took a moment to think and finally said: ‘Go.’" That is how, at the age of twenty, Vladimír Beneš decided to leave the Republic. On this matter, Beneš commented: “We joined a group of scouts and set out on a trip to the Black Lake. Each of us had a small backpack with a snack, there were about 14 or 15 of us, just a small group. When we reached the border and it was possible to see the slope below, the two of us stayed behind. The others continued to go among the trees and we separated ourselves from the group by going down the slope. We got to the village of Brennes and there was already a patrol.” After the initial formalities they were taken to the office of the CIC where the main interview took place and eventually they ended up in Regensburg in a camp for refugees from Czechoslovakia. Beneš states: “After a week they took us to a special camp, there were many of us there already. The present professors there organized lectures on all sorts of topics.” For Vladimír his life in emigration had just begun.

Vladimír Beneš

Vladimír Beneš

Vladimír Beneš was born April 1, 1928, in Zdíkovec in Šumava. He had an elder brother. When he was a child, the family often moved because of his father's profession, (he worked for a customs patrol). At first he attended a Czech school, then a Slovak one. In 1939 he was admitted to the grammar school in Čkyně, and he completed his secondary studies in 1947 in Písek. After that he began studying at the Faculty of Chemical Technology in Prague. From 1946 he was also actively involved in the scouting movement, which was one of the reasons he emigrated to Regensburg, Germany in 1948. In 1949 he attempted to move further to Australia, but he was stopped in Italy. He returned to the assembly camp in Ludwigsburg and from there he was sent to the Language Institute in Ulm, where he learnt English. He got his first employment in Ludwigsburg in the Tracing Service in a doctor's consulting room, but only for a few months. Then he found another employment in Resettlement Center in Munich, where he worked just for half a year before starting as a producer at Radio Free Europe in May 1951. He held this position until 1989, after that he worked as a program director until 1993. Since that time he has been working on organizing the collected documentary material.

Železná Ruda, Černé jezero

Available in: English | Česky

Šumava’s Černé jezero, (Black Lake), is of glacier origin and is situated less than one kilometer from the Czech-German border, at 1,008 meters above sea level. The first Czech pumped storage hydro plant was built there between 1929 and 1930. Due to the proximity of the border, the lake was not accessible to the public from 1950 to the 1960s. Visits were eventually permitted again, albeit under the Border Guard surveillance only. In 1964 the Černé jezero was the center of attention as the StB conducted one of its disinformation missions – the Neptune project. It deposited boxes allegedly containing Nazi documents in the lake where sport divers “accidentally” discovered them. A seasonal shuttle bus line to the lake was opened in the 1970s. A special bus line serves the area currently and a red and a yellow tourist trail lead around the lake. The area is managed by the administration of the Šumava National Reserve.

Železná Ruda, Černé jezero

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Crossing the border with a backpack

Crossing the border with a backpack

Vladimír Beneš
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