Plešné jezero Lake
Plešné jezero, Šumava National Park, 384 51 Nová Pec, Czech Republic
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Balloons of freedom

Available in: English | Česky

Oldřich Kalousek served as a border guard in Šumava from October 1953 to January 1956. He was in the so-called “first-wave” company tasked with guarding the defensive and restricted zones established in the border area. “The border guards were not there to shoot people as if they were rabbits, but to defend the area from intruders”, says Oldřich Kalousek. Any violation within the zone was treated as a special incident. One of the circumstances recalled by Kalousek was the monitoring and subsequent elimination of balloons carrying propaganda leaflets above Plešné jezero Lake. The hot-air balloons released in Germany with attached leaflets were supposed to carry their load above the border zone and then drop it. The leaflets were prepared by the press department of Radio Free Europe with the aim of providing unbiased information from abroad, and were supposed to disrupt the totalitarian monopoly of the press. Oldřich Kalousek is one of the few living witnesses who remembers the balloons of freedom: “There were perhaps as many as thousands of these balloons. Each one had a box attached to it that contained the flyers. It wasn’t possible to shoot them down with an ordinary rifle but one lad brought a machine gun and took them down in a quick fashion. We then used the fabric they were made of for everything - as tablecloths on the tables or as covers for the notice boards in the Julius Fučík corner.”

Oldřich Kalousek

Oldřich Kalousek

Oldřich Kalousek was born on August 10, 1933, in Rosnice, which today is a part of the municipality of Všestary, near Hradec Králové. His father died in 1940 and his mother had to take care of him and his brother all by herself, working as a house maid in a peasant family. In 1948, Oldřich Kalousek started his apprenticeship for a locksmith at the Škoda factory in Hradec Králové. He later specialized as a boiler maker and completed his education in evening classes at a school of engineering. In the years 1951-1952, he was sent to the People’s Republic of Poland to assemble boilers. In October 1953, he was drafted for military service with the border guards. He graduated from an NCO school in Volary and then served in a first-wave company in České Žleby, Kašperské hory Mountains, Plešné jezero Lake and Třístoličník Mountain. He also served as the deputy company commander for political matters. He completed his compulsory military service lasting a total of 27 months in January 1956 in the rank of a sergeant and refused the offer to stay with the border guards. He returned to his job at the Škoda plant in Hradec Králové, where he worked until 1989 as head of operations. Oldřich Kalousek lives in Neděliště near Hradec Králové.

Plešné jezero Lake

Available in: English | Česky

The Plešné jezero Lake in Šumava is of a glacial origin. It lies at an altitude of 1090m and covers an area of 7.48 hectares. It has a perimeter of 1242m and a maximum depth of 18.30m.

Plešné jezero Lake

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Balloons of freedom

Balloons of freedom

Oldřich Kalousek
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