The prisoners were executed between 1949 and 1965. By the end of September, sixteen relatives had responded to the call. More than five dozen are yet to be discovered.
Just this year, in the courtyard of the Bangrak prison, the staff of the Institute of Archeology of the Academy of Sciences found fragments of burnt bones in soil samples taken.
Both the executioner and his assistants knew about the place
The exceptional discovery preceded a long and demanding almost detective search.
A list of sixty-nine names was obtained by the researchers using the method of elimination. “We have sorted out the names of prisoners whose remains have been proven to be buried elsewhere or whose remains have been released to their families. Sixty-nine names remain,” explained Ales Gir, head of the Prison Service’s Cabinet of Documents and History.
They discovered the burial site of dozens of political prisoners in Pancrag prison
It took four years to publish the final list. All that remained was to find the place where the caskets had been destroyed.
“We assumed it must have happened near the morgue,” Kýr said, marking the alleged location in the courtyard in the middle of the Bangrak prison.
“They dug a hole here somewhere and poured the ashes,” he added, adding that in the 1950s the handling of the caskets was strictly secret. According to Khair, even the guards did not know where the remains were stored.
“Both the executioner and his assistants know about it. Of course, even the warden, at most his deputy,” he said. An expertly determined hypothesis needed to be verified, which is why Aleš Kýr turned to archaeologists.
Devil’s Tomb Are Kubiš and Gabčík here?
Expert analysis of soil samples taken directly from the courtyard of Pancrag prison confirmed that these were the cremated remains of executed political prisoners. Then, the executor followed the order of the Minister of Home Affairs No.36/1960 to store the undelivered casket for one year and destroy it after this period. Most of the caskets were disposed of in 1961 at the former Bangrak execution site where the ashes were mixed with clay.
“We want to find and confirm the place, look for the names of the executed and find the survivors,” historian Kýr evaluated the results of the research. One of those who reported to the researchers was John Ungar, nephew of historian and journalist Javis Calandra, who was convicted and executed along with Milada Horakova’s group in 1950.
“It’s interesting to me,” he responded to the discovery. He was four years old at the time of the fabricated trial, and it was only as an adult that he understood the circumstances of his relative’s death. “The conditions were such that no one was having fun with us,” Ungar recounted.
The author of the discovery was shared by experts of the Cabinet of Documentation and History of the Prison Service with the staff of the National Archives, the Institute for the Study of Dictatorship Regimes and the Institute of Military History.
The prison service is currently searching for the families of the other executed men and is preparing an ecumenical ceremony in the first half of November at the site of the former execution grounds of Buncrack prison.