A top-secret bunker used by the Soviet army opens to the public
A military bunker in Brdy that reportedly housed Soviet nuclear warheads during the years of the Cold War has been turned into an Atom Museum. It opened to the public last week attracting military buffs and historians from far and wide.
The reason is that by all accounts it contained a big arsenal of Soviet nuclear warheads. Vaclav Vitkovec, president of the Iron Curtain Foundation which has leased the bunker from the Ministry of Defense and turned it into an atom museum, explains.
“Sometime in 1964 the Soviet and Czechoslovak military signed an agreement to build a facility to house a nuclear weapons arsenal. It was the height of the Cold War and the facility was to help the Warsaw Pact to be better prepared for a possible attack or defense strike. “
“The bunker which is about 40 metres square in size is divided up into three sections. The first section contains four cubicles – the first is devoted to the Cold War, and you can see some great photographs from the height of the Cold War. The second is devoted to the Soviet nuclear programme – and one thing I would mention in particular is this photo of the test trail of the Tsar bomb. It was the biggest nuclear explosion conducted on our Planet -57 megatons - the ball of fire it created had a 10-km radius, then there is the Satan missile which contained ten nuclear warheads. In the third cubicle we see pictures of the American nuclear programme – with the Manhattan project and the nuclear explosion in Hiroshima. And the last one is devoted to the peaceful use of nuclear energy – so visitors can see details of the operation of the Temelin nuclear power plant and focus on all the ways in which nuclear energy can serve mankind for peaceful purposes.”
On the day of its opening – August 17th – the museum attracted not just military buffs but ordinary visitors eager for a glimpse inside the long-secreted underground compound.
Man: “I go to places like this regularly and I really appreciate what they have created here. It is a very good job. “
Man : “I am glad to be able to have a look around. I think everyone would benefit from seeing this place. “
For the time being, the Atom Museum is only open between now and October, on Saturdays for two groups of visitors of up to 25 people who are given a guided tour. Visits need to be pre-arranged by phone. But in time the Iron Curtain Foundation hopes to turn it into a much bigger public attraction. Vaclav Vitkovec again:
After the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Czechoslovak territory the Brdy bunker was abandoned for many years. It was only used twice –for very diverse purposes. In 1993 following the break-up of Czechoslovakia it served as a temporary storage space for the federation’s defunct currency –housing hundreds of tons of coins and banknotes which were no longer valid until such a time as they could be recycled. In later years the premises were leased to an association that cares for German war graves, which used the bunker as a temporary storage site for the remains of four thousand German soldiers who died on Czech territory during WWII. After they were moved to receive a dignified burial, the site it was once again left empty.
What its fate will be in future years depends largely on public interest in the Atom Museum and the success of the Brdoland project that the Iron Curtain Foundation hopes to realize. The underground bunker itself is of considerable historical value since it is the only one of its kind left which has not been reconstructed or altered in any way.