Czechs ‘fired up’ over WW II-era bunkers

Jan Málek, photo: Czech Television

For years now, the Czech Army has been selling off, or in some cases donating, concrete military bunkers built in the 1930s. Originally, they were to have served as key fortifications against Nazi Germany but were never put to use. There are some 5,000 such pillboxes in the Czech Republic, one-fifth of which are now in private hands. More than 360 bunkers were sold in the last year-and-a-half alone.

Jan Málek,  photo: Czech Television
Surveys in the past have suggested how some Czech households save, so you might think that that a military bunker built in the 1930s, regardless of its historic value, might not be the first thing on the family shopping list. For some, though, obtaining a bunker has proven tempting. The Czech Army has continued to sell off fortified bunkers in border areas and many have jumped at the chance to own a bunker of their own. Jan Málek told Czech TV how je obtained a bunker in the region of Ústí which lay on his family’s land. This bunker was free, but even so his wife wasn’t sure obtaining the bunker was a good idea. Here’s what he told Czech TV:

“She said, I don’t have money for diapers but you need a machine gun?!”

The new owner is determined to restore the bunker to its former glory: to that end, he repainted it in camouflage colours, bought a decommissioned machine gun, and obtained an historic periscope to be able to scope the surrounding countryside. He even replaced the original armoured door. Jan Málek again:

“For this I had to go for the door all the way to Ostrava. So it can be quite time-consuming.”

Photo: Lukáš Malý,  Public Domain
For some, obtaining a military bunker is like building a shed in the backyard, except instead of being used for D-I-Y projects, the bunker is the D-I-Y project. The going price for a bunker varies: Petr Medek is the spokesman for the country’s Defence Ministry.

“Generally-speaking, bunkers sell from between 2,000 – 40,000 crowns. Prices vary depending on where they are located and what kind of shape they’re in.”

Bunkers in good condition could still arguably serve in their original function even now; historian Václav Houfek:

“According to the technical parameters they were built to directly withstand 150 or 155 mm shells, so they should be able to survive a blast from a tank even today.”