- Hans Weber
- December 1, 2023
Scientists Map Disappeared Settlements in Moravia and Silesia, Educational Trails Open for Tourists
In a remarkable endeavor, scientists have mapped over 100 settlements that vanished in Moravia and Silesia after World War II and in the subsequent years. Now, educational trails are being created in Velké Losin and Březová nad Svitavou, offering tourists the opportunity to explore these lost settlements. The trails, equipped with information panels and a mobile application, will provide visitors with insights into the history and pinpoint the locations of former buildings.
Scheduled to open in July, the Prameny u Žárová and Štolnava u Velké Losin educational trail will utilize the mobile application to display defunct buildings directly on their original sites. The app will also feature audio recordings of witness testimonies related to these structures. Another trail is being developed in Muzlov, which is now part of Březová nad Svitavou, and is expected to open as early as August. Muzlov ceased to exist in the 1970s due to the construction of the II. Brno water supply, but witnesses who remember life in the village can still be found in the area.
While there are few living witnesses who recall these vanished villages, researchers have managed to establish contact with some witnesses near later-disappeared settlements. Collaborating closely with them, they have collected valuable information about their experiences and perceptions of leaving their homes. Many witnesses still feel a sense of loss, even after many years, and some even took mementos from their homeland, such as stones, clay, or tree branches.
The disappeared settlements in Moravia and Silesia, mostly consisting of at least three houses originally, have been demolished over time. The areas now serve non-residential purposes, such as forests, permanent grasslands, arable land, military districts, or protected zones. The Šumperk, Jeseník, and Bruntál districts were particularly affected, with approximately 60 disappeared settlements located in these peripheral regions. The main causes of extinction were the displacement of the original German population and the construction of the Libavá military training area, as well as the establishment of water reservoirs in the Bruntál region.
Life in these settlements was often challenging due to their high altitudes, harsh climates, and less fertile soils. Displacement and subsequent non-settlement, infrastructure development (including nuclear power plants and water reservoirs), and sporadic mining activities after World War II contributed to the demise of these villages.
Efforts are being made to revive some of the villages through volunteer initiatives. Last year, a traveling exhibition commemorating the defunct villages was displayed in regional museums. Currently, the exhibition is permanently installed at Slezské Rudoltice Castle. The mapped locations and their histories are described in an interactive map, allowing users to access information about the population, reasons for disappearance, and other relevant details. Moreover, the Modern Chronicle of the Village offers more in-depth information about specific municipalities and encourages users to contribute their own multimedia materials to preserve the memory of these places. The five-year project involved historians from the Institute for Contemporary History of the Czech Academy of Sciences and computer scientists from Masaryk University.
Article by Prague Forum