Nové Hrady, Sokolí Hnízdo (Falcon’s Nest)
Pyhrabruck 7, 3962, Austria
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An Austrian died on his way to his brother’s wedding

Available in: English | Česky

In February 1961 on the state border close to Tetřev Forest near Nové Hrady, the dead body of 18-year-old Austrian citizen Horst Stepan Passler was found electrocuted by the high-voltage fence. Passler, who originated from the Liberec District and had become an Austrian citizen only a year before, was probably trying to sneak into Czechoslovakia to attend the wedding of his brother. Passler’s body was found between the middle and outer fence of the wire border barrier, according to contemporary documents “he was probably testing if there was any electricity in the WB, [wire barrier], as his left hand was resting on the conductor in the middle fence,” and that decision was fatal. It was not until ten years later that his family was informed of his death. It came to light that he was most likely attempting to reach the wedding of his brother after he had been denied legal entrance to Czechoslovakia. His death was not investigated by the Communist police, nor by the Czech Office for the Documentation and Investigation of the Crimes of Communism after 1990. The young Passler had lived most his life in Czechoslovakia, where he also had part of his family. He himself was allowed to travel to Austria; there he obtained citizenship and lived with his sister in Vienna. Passler is one of fourteen Austrian citizens who died attempting to cross the Czechoslovak borders. Austrians constitute five percent of all the victims of the Czechoslovak borders.

Wire barrier

Wire barrier

One part of the military engineering system protecting the Czechoslovak state borders were the so-called triple-fenced wire barriers, which stood about two kilometers away from the state border and constituted the inner boundary of the forbidden border zone; in the year 1952–65 the middle section of these barriers contained a high-voltage electric current, which proved lethal to approximately one third of all the people attempting to illegally cross the borders between 1948 to 1989.

Nové Hrady, Sokolí Hnízdo (Falcon’s Nest)

Available in: English | Česky

Falcon’s Nest is a basin southeast of the town of Nové Hrady with the Novohradský Creek meandering through it. For centuries it has been used as a park. The count of Buquoy founded a game enclosure for fallow deer here. There are a number of protected trees here, some of them as old as 500 years. By the mid-1960s, it became the seat of a company of the border guard belonging to the regiment headquartered in Nové Hrady and the 15th brigade in České Budějovice. The nearby picturesque town of Nové Hrady, where the border guard also had its seat, boasts a medieval castle and a historical-heritage-listed town center. Until 1920, a part of the village belonged to Lower Austria and was taken by Czechoslovakia in the course of the annexation of so-called West Vitorazsko.

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