Spectator on facebook

Spectator on facebook

HISTORY TALKS...

Years of enthusiasm

FOR YEARS, the city of Banská Štiavnica was connected with the valley of the Hron River via a narrow-gauge railway built in the 19th century. The small train that operated the line was called the “Štiavnica Anča”, which, by the first half of the 20th century, had earned a reputation for being quite slow.

FOR YEARS, the city of Banská Štiavnica was connected with the valley of the Hron River via a narrow-gauge railway built in the 19th century. The small train that operated the line was called the “Štiavnica Anča”, which, by the first half of the 20th century, had earned a reputation for being quite slow.

It was clear even prior to World War II that the railway could not meet the demands of modern transport and that a new one had to be built. The communists seized the opportunity and in 1948-49 they initiated the project known as the Trať Mládeže, or the Railway of the Young. Despite the fact that the new regime saw the construction mainly as a form of self-promotion and propaganda, young volunteers worked on the line with enthusiasm. After the difficult war years, they felt they were participating in something valuable, while also contributing to the reconstruction of their homeland.
Of course, young people were attracted to the Youth Railway also by the desire for adventure. For prospective university students, the participation ensured accommodation at a school dormitory in Bratislava.

Work conditions were difficult. Workers were housed in simple wooden bungalows, forced to sleep on hard bunk-beds covered only by one blanket, and served bland and simple food. The only material reward they received was a blue shirt, the uniform of the Communist Youth. In spite of this, many volunteers signed on eagerly, and not only Slovaks, but also foreigners. For example, people from Algeria, Norway, France, Great Britain and Canada are mentioned.

This country-building enthusiasm is reflected in this postcard by painter Sergei Protopopov, published exclusively to promote the project. The image at the bottom right corner may be the bridge pylon over the Hron, and a map of the line runs through the centre, showing the stations along the way. The postcard is dominated by two enthusiastic volunteers in blue Communist Youth shirts.

The processing of personal data is subject to our Privacy Policy and the Cookie Policy. Before submitting your e-mail address, please make sure to acquaint yourself with these documents.

Top stories

Foreigners in Slovakia: Will they vote in upcoming elections?

Dutch activist after 13 years in Slovakia: I am still waiting to have a mayor who will translate the website of the city of Bratislava into English.

Illustrative Stock Photo

All for Jan: The year of magical thinking in Slovakia

Orbán used Soros as a powerful container for everything he stood against. Fico borrowed the ready-made narrative.

Jaguar Land Rover will ceremonially launch operations at its €14 bln Nitra plant next Thursday

Local trade unions and the carmaker have agreed on a wage rise even before the official launch of production.

The new Jaguar Land Rover plant in Nitra

Mika: Bratislava needs to define what kind of city it is

Former top media manager Václav Mika believes experiences from running the public-service broadcaster can be useful in running the capital.

Václav Mika