BASEES Annual Conference 2022

Forced Labour Camps in Communist Czechoslovakia: History and Memory

Fri8  Apr02:20pm(20 mins)
Seminar Room


Kelly Hignett


While a well-developed historiography exists in relation to forced labour in the Soviet Union, the extension of the Gulag system across the Eastern bloc after 1945 has been the subject of far less scholarly attention. By 1952 over 400 operational labour camps had been documented across Eastern Europe. This figure includes an estimated 124 camps in Czechoslovakia where up to 120,000 people were incarcerated. Between 1945-1960s forced labour played a significant role in shaping post-war Czechoslovakia, functioning as a means of political coercion and punishment, social control, and playing a significant role in post-war economic reconstruction and development. This paper will analyse the establishment and evolution of the Czechoslovakian forced labour system between 1948-1968, in addition to drawing on written memoirs and oral interviews from former camp inmates, to explore how prisoners experienced the camps.