"If we are to prevent evil, we must first recognize it.”
– says author of the concept and design of the exhibition, PhDr. Vojtěch Kyncl, Ph.D.
The Zámeček Memorial exhibition offers new and, in many cases, surprising historical context. This is due to unique written documents not only from the Czech but also from foreign archives. The exposition also includes a short introductory film depicting the transition from the First Republic atmosphere to the Nazi terror with unique contemporary images from Pardubice, objects preserved from the execution site, an audio recording of the diary of Jaroslav Charypar who transported the dead away from the execution site, photographs presenting the Geneva Conventions and short films with testimonies of survivors or witnesses.
One part of the exhibition is the so-called "Gestapo workroom". Here, interactive displays show contemporary documents talking in an accessible manner about the Nazi plan to germanize Europe, about the impact of the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich on the Nazi leadership, the formation of anti-Nazi resistance in Pardubice, collaborating organizations, and about the story of Pardubice Jews. Visitors can also listen to recordings of the Protectorate radio and to BBC broadcasts from London.
The actual exhibition of the memorial is designed as a circular exhibition, yet is the diversity of its parts underlined by the different characters of the individual exhibition rooms, such as the different height levels or the alternation of light and darkness. Individual parts of the exhibition are then divided into partitions.
During the reconstruction, two ceramic stelae were professionally assembled with one figural stela. They were then transported by the restorer to the studio, cleaned, and prepared for the new installation. They are located in the foyer of the exhibition.
The memorial site
The memorial site is located on the outskirts of Pardubice, on the grounds of a former game preserve that belonged to the magnificent Larisch Villa, locally known as Zámeček. The villa with its vast forest was occupied by the Nazi riot police during the Protectorate. The police found a secluded place with a sandy mound in the game preserve and set up a shooting range. After the unleashing of the Heydrich terror, people from Pardubice and its near vicinity were arrested by the Gestapo, and, after being brought in, they were almost immediately brought to the shooting range. The only exception was the people from Ležáky, who were kept in the cellar of the Zámeček for several hours.
The sandy mound thus suddenly became an execution ground. In the summer of 1942, 194 people died here. The youngest of them, Helenka, was only 15 years old.
Today the site is dominated by a granite monument, which was unveiled in 1949. Its form was shaped like a smooth granite cube with a cavity in which three urns containing the ashes of the victims were placed. The author of the design was Pardubice architect Karel Kalvoda; the relief with a male and female figure was made by sculptor Jaroslav Zelený from Chrudim. Both were members of the local unit of the Union of Fighters for Freedom.
In 1978, the memorial site was declared a national cultural heritage. During its existence, Zámeček has undergone several modifications.
It is a great honour for us to have opened a new exhibition at the Memorial at the end of October 2021, the aim of which is to preserve the memories of the victims of the Heydrich terror in Pardubice, Hradec Králové and Kolín.
The Zámeček Memorial Project
The Statutory City of Pardubice opened a competition for the reconstruction of the Zámeček Memorial in 2017. The author of the specialized part, including the provision of preserved authentic materials, is historian Vojtěch Kyncl. The architecture was worked out by Jan Žalský and Vít Podráský, who designed the Memorial as a concrete cast. Concrete was chosen for its rawness and is further complemented by steel or metal elements, an earthen sloping floor, granite blocks, or robust wooden benches in the cinema hall. The aim was to achieve the maximum visitor experience. The visual style was inspired by the Prague-based graphic studio Datle.
The exhibition of the Memorial is attractive and understandable across generations. It is designed to facilitate visitors in understanding the roots of Nazi ideology and their racial and national hatred.