New memorial commemorates victims of Ploština massacre
Ploština was a small settlement in the Zlín region of Moravia. On April 19, 1945, close to the end of World War II, it was set on fire and many of its inhabitants were massacred by the Nazis for having supported the anti-Nazi resistance. A new monument has now been erected on the site of the tragedy.
“My grandfather was burnt alive here, with one of his sons who was just 21 at the time, together with a young child. My mother lived through this horror when she was just 16 years old. The Nazis set their house on fire and interrogated her. It’s really hard for me to talk about it.”
Vlastimil Hušt is one of the descendants of the Ploština community massacred by the Nazis on April 19, 1945.
One of the partisan resistance groups operating near Ploština was infiltrated by Gestapo confidants who reported that the locals were giving partisans food and shelter. SS units were sent to undertake a punitive action in which twenty-four people were burned alive, three more people were shot dead and one person was tortured to death during interrogation. The men were forced to enter the burning houses at gunpoint and those who attempted to escape were shot.
After the war several new houses were built in Ploština for the survivors, however the community never recovered from the tragedy. In the 1970s Ploština was declared a national historical landmark.
The memorial built there in 1975 according to a design by the Zlín architect Šebastian Zelina, has now undergone a major reconstruction financed by the Zlín Region and the Museum of Southeast Moravia. It is due to open to the public this weekend, on April 23, but descendants of the families who were brutally massacred here got the chance to see it first privately.
The memorial, which reminds some of a raised hand, others of flames, has been expertly renovated. The crumbling amphitheater has been transformed into a modern visitor centre - an elliptical building with a green roof. Inside, glass prisms, hanging from the ceiling are inscribed with the names of the people murdered. A photo and audio section tells the stories of individual victims with eyewitness accounts by survivors.
The head of the museum Pavel Hrubec says it is a powerful testimony.
“I was here when the main exhibits had not yet been installed and when I saw it completed my jaw dropped. It was a very emotional moment, not just for me but for the other museum employees who found it hard to hold back the tears.”
There is a “hall of silence” where visitors can reflect on the tragedy and a section that depicts the life and fate of Ploština after the war.
The Ploština National Monument will re-open to the public on Sunday April 23.
It will be open from May to September, except for Mondays, from 10 am to 5 pm daily, and on weekends in October. For more information go to: https://www.muzeum-zlin.cz/plostina