One of those who got to the forbidden place was Hans Beer from the German Waldmünchen, a village near Čerchov, just from the other – the western – side of the border. For him, the ban didn’t quite apply. Each time he bribed border guards and soldiers, got into a heavily guarded area and took photographs there. Some can now be seen at a unique exhibition about Čerchov in the Chodska Museum in Domažlice.
“When we were preparing the exhibition, we discovered that we have no photographs from 1958, when the peak was occupied by the army, until the 1990s, when the soldiers left Čerchov,” said museum director Václav Nejdl. It was Hans Beer who came to the rescue. Not only did he take photos on Čerchov Hill during the Iron Curtain, but he also documented a part of the border zone from Rozvadov to Všeruby. For example, he gave the border guards jeans, chocolates or sweets, or a carton of American cigarettes, i.e. things that we didn’t have here and were considered luxury goods. “That’s why they let him in there. They knew that when they arrived again, he would have something for them again,” the museum curator pointed out. Beer donated his photos to the museum.
Čerchov is depicted in 150 photographs in the museum. The oldest are from the end of the 19th century, others from the Second World War. “Between 1945 and 1958, tourists tried to revive the peak, but they failed,” said Nejdl. The Czechoslovak People’s Army then took over the mountain and built a base there to intercept the communications of German and American planes. The entire area was closed and made accessible only in the 1990s after the fall of the Iron Curtain.
The first name is Czech, the second is German and means Black Head. “During the war, the Nazis tried to force the people of Bavaria to use the German name of the mountain. But that never took off. On both sides of the border, people have always called the hill Čerchov, and it has been until now,” explained Nejdl.
Čerchov – a mountain that connects
Where: Chodska Museum, Chodské náměstí 96, Domažlice
Opening hours: Monday-Sunday, 9.00 – 12.00 and 13.00 – 17.00
Entrance fee: full 50 CZK, reduced (children under 16, pensioners, ZTP) 30 CZK, family 100 CZK
Entrance fee for the exhibition only: full 30 CZK, reduced (children under 16, pensioners, ZTP) 20 CZK
It will last until 31 October 2022.