Accepted paper:

Iron Curtain Past reflected in memory practices: a case study from Neulosimthal (Jedlina) in the West Bohemian border area


Karolina Pauknerova (Charles University)

Paper short abstract:

Based on a three-year research, the paper presents a case study of practices of memory in the former village of Jedlina, in the prohibited buffer zone of the Iron Curtain.

Paper long abstract:

In the ruins of the village of Jedlina (Neulosimthal or Rosenthal in German) a bond between memory and place has been intentionally forged. Here in the open area in the middle of the former village stands a memorial commemorating the dead of WW1, next to which a box with a memory book hangs on a tree trunk and an information board about "Past Jedlina" is placed. The board, provided by the Protected Countryside Area Bohemian Forest, informs on the village and its history. The heart of long-gone Jedlina is thus a special place where memory is condensed; its power is mobilized as if to fight against oblivion. Jedlina is located in the former buffer zone, part of the Iron Curtain (49° 42′ 18″ N, 12° 28′ 37″ E). In the spring 1948 after German inhabitants had been expulsed; the village was frequented only by border guards. Most of the houses were torn down in early 1950s; the church resisted until 1963, when it burnt down. Only the WW1 memorial, several grave stones and some ruins of buildings survived - but after Velvet revolution in 1989 places like Jedlina were brought back to life as places of remembrance and tourism. The paper presents an analysis of the practices of memory materialized in the notes in the memory book, in the information board and the restored WW1 memorial. Qualitative content analysis was coupled with participant observation in order to understand the complexity of the practices of remembrance in the middle of Jedlina.

panel SPS001
Towards an ethnography of the Iron Curtain