Scars of WWII – Czech Republic determined to rid the country of the Nazis’ mess

It is said that wars leave permanent scars on the face of history. This becomes even more evident in the case of a world war, and especially so with World War II.

During the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia (modern-day Czech Republic and Slovakia), the Germans built a munitions factory famously known as ‘Muna factory’ in the Boří forest region. This factory provided a huge supply of bombs and grenades to the ‘Wehrmacht’– the name given to German Army from 1935 to 1946. In April 1945, when the Red Army of the Soviet Union liberated the region from the Germans, the ‘Muna factory’ was blown up and the ammunition got scattered over an area of 750 hectares.

Now the Lesy ČR Czech state forest company have decided that they will embark on the mission to clean up the forest from dangerous WWII ammunition. The Prime Minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, announced his government’s plan to clean the forest, during his recent visit to the South Moravia region, the Prague Post reports.

It is estimated that the costs of the cleaning could amount to 50 million Czech koruna. It is expected that quite a few specialized firms will bid in the competition for the project. The tender for this project is ready, and will soon be made public. The winning firm’s name will be announced some time in the last quarter of 2015. The whole process of clearing up the forest, experts suggest, could take up to a decade. This is because it requires a thorough and systematic operation. The government will look for promising credentials and expertise in order to allot the tender to right firm.

In the past, no government took serious steps towards the clean-up process in the South Moravia region. This was partly because of a lack of adequate funding, and a shortage of expertise.

The Prime Minister said that cutting the number of bomb disposal experts in the past was a mistake, which severely limited state’s response mechanism towards dangerous explosives scattered in the region. It is expected that the clean-up operation will start before the end of 2015. The Interior Minister, Milan Chovansec, said that tens of thousands of ammunition rounds are expected to be found in the area.

There are no restrictions imposed on the access to the forests, and anyone can enter and leave the area without being stopped or questioned. In 1990 a 14-year-old boy died due to a bomb explosion in the area.

In the past, some small-scale state-funded campaigns cleared 250 hectares out of 750 hectares of dangerous territory. The government is now looking for the right firm to clear the rest of the 500 hectares of woodland from WWII explosives.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE