Slovakia will symbolically close border with Austria to recall totalitarian past

The Weekend of Closed Borders will include the commemoration of the victims of the Iron Curtain.

The symbolically closed Slovak-Austrian border.The symbolically closed Slovak-Austrian border. (Source: TASR)

Slovakia will for the sixth time symbolically close its border with Austria. The closure will be part of the Weekend of Closed Borders, from November 12 to 14, commemorating the victims of the Iron Curtain and the communist regime in former Czechoslovakia.

“We want to recall the totalitarian atmosphere at the borders and remember the victims of the Iron Curtain, whose path to freedom cost the most - human life,” said Juraj Droba, head of the Bratislava Self-governing Region (BSK) as cited in the press release. “We will use the uniqueness of the former state border between Slovakia and Austria for activities that will bring information to the general public about the Iron Curtain, which was not only the dividing line of two cultures — East and West — but also a physical obstacle to freedom.”

The Closed Borders Weekend programme will take place at several places in Bratislava. On Saturday, November 13, there will be three bus trips to the former Iron Curtain. The vintage bus will depart from the bus stop below the SNP Bridge at 11:00, 13:00 and 15:00.

On Sunday, November 14, the border between Slovakia and Austria on the cycling Freedom Bridge in Devínska Nová Ves will symbolically close from 10:00 to 17:00. It will be possible to get past the border with a special document called cestovná doložka. The state released it during the previous regime for those traveling to Western countries. This time, people can get this document at the border. The event will culminate with the reading of the names of the 42 victims of the Iron Curtain on the Slovak side.

Visitors can also look at a model of the physical Iron Curtain made of barbed wire that BSK built on the basis of photos and documentation in cooperation with the Nation’s Memory Institute.

Related articleRemnants of the barbed-wire fence recall a totalitarian past Read more 

“It is an example of a heavily guarded border dividing Europe and the obstacles that people longing for life in the West have had to overcome,” said Lucia Forman, spokesperson of BSK.

During the following days, visitors can scan several information boards that detail the strictly guarded border system in Czechoslovakia before 1989. They will also be able to see large format period photographs of the Iron Curtain installed on the beams of the former signal wall.

The Weekend of Closed Borders is part of the Freedom Festival that the Bratislava Self-governing Region (BSK) organises in cooperation with the Nation’s Memory Institute (ÚPN), the non-profit organisation V Lepších časoch and the Bratislava borough of Devínska Nová Ves.

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