Artillery Fortification HŮRKA (Berghöhe)

On May 30, 2008, the Ministry of Defence of the Czech Republic handed over the former artillery fortification Hůrka in the hands of the town of Králiky (Grulich). For about 50 years the fortification had been used as a depot by the armed forces. On the same day the town passed on the fortification to the association of the friends of the Czechoslovakian fortification, which had succeeded in a public invitation concerning the civil use and operation of the installation. Gradually a big museum will be set up and the whole installation will be integrated into the project Fortification Area of Králiky (Grulich). The association strives for opening the artillery fortification, whose subterranean facilities had been inaccessible for a long time, still in this summer. Then the first organized sightseeing tours for civilians will take place since the construction began in 1936.

Short history of the artillery fortification

In the past the hill Hůrka at the northern edge of the town had several names like Hofeberg, Berghöhe, Horka, and Výšina. Within the framework of the constructions of the fortifications in the years 1936 – 1938 the artillery fortification with its five blocks formed together with the nearby observation block (K-S 12b) the construction subsector 2. /III. – Berghöhe.

The works were done by the renowned contractor firm Dr.-Ing. Karel Skorkovský from Prague, which received about 25 million crowns. After its completion the artillery fortification, together with the neighbouring fortifications Adamsberg and Baudenkoppe (Bouda), would have been able to support with its heavy weapons the line of large infantry fortifications and light machine gun installations model 36 and 37. Until September 1938 – the time of the Munich Agreement – the artillery fortification was constructionally finished. The full armament (rotating turrets and all howitzers) should be completed in the second half of 1939. The combat-ready installation was supposed to have a garrison of 424 soldiers. After the forced cession of the Sudetenland to the Third Reich the only partially combat-ready installation was left by the Czechoslovakian army at the beginning of October 1938.

During the years 1938 – 1945 the mighty construction first served as an object for visitors of the German Army (among others Fritz Todt together with General Molt). After that it became an important test facility for different technical equipment (armoured doors, sloping elevator systems, filter systems etc.). Furthermore the combat blocks of the fortifications were used as targets for firing tests and experimenting with engineer explosives. Presumably the artillery casemate K-S 11 represents the first location outside the German Reich where firing test with wing-stabilized Röchling projectiles took place, which belonged to the German secret weapons of World War II. Because of that parts of the fortification were severely damaged. The removal of the mighty armoured cupolas (net weight usually 52 tons) and embrasures finished the structure of the fortification off. In the autumn 1944 preparatory works began in the underground rooms for an ordnance factory combined with a camp for some hundred prisoners as workers.

During the first months after World War II machine tools from the industrial companies of Králiky (Grulich) were stored in the fortification, which later were transported to the Soviet Union as war spoils.

In 1946 the fortification was cleaned and closed by the Czech army. In 1958 it was decided to use the underground facilities as an ammunition depot. In the following years the names and practical applications were changed several times. Anyway the fortification served as a military depot for 50 years. The Czech army definitely left it at the end of May 2008.

The current condition of the artillery fortification Hurka

The structural condition of the object shows the marks of the long-standing use as a military depot only in a limited scale. Compared with similar objects the works arranged by the army were carried out considerably. Modern technology can only be found in the area of the entrance block, the underground remained untouched by the conversions. Considering the conditions in the Czech Republic some parts of the entrance area are unique. In particular these are the original armoured door in the entrance block, the sloping elevator able to operate (built after the war with the help of old documents), the accumulator-driven locomotive, and the narrow gauge wagons.

The entrance block K-S 12a is located closest to the town at the road from Králiky (Grulich) to Červený Potok in direction to Hanušovice. Its location is very advantageous for visitors, particularly because of the large capacity of the asphalt and fenced in parking site. The combat blocks, especially the huge artillery block K-S 11, the concrete covered shaft of the retractable turret K-S 12 and two infantry blocks (K-S 10 and K-S 13) are located about 1000 meters further north around the actual Berghöhe (Hoferberg). The first neighbouring infantry block K – S 14 Cihelna (brickworks) is located westerly of the Berghöhe at the road Králiky – Prostřední Lipka, next to the military museum.

Fortification museum Hůrka (Berghöhe)

The fortification itself represents the main exhibit. The well-remained underground facilities are going to serve as exhibition rooms, in particular with the topics Czech and foreign fortification systems, historical events, occupation and resistance. A special exhibition with available original items will be dedicated to the German tests of secret weapons in the Králiky (Grulich) area. This is the current planning which will be realized due to the technical possibilities of the operators.

Guided tour

Regarding the current possibilities of operation a so-called basic tour in the underground of the fortification is offered at the moment. It contains a distance of about 1400 meters and lasts about 70 minutes. There is no minimum number of tour members but an upper limit of 60 persons.

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