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Řetízkárna - (Mind) Changing Room | Civic Europe
Community development, Education and research

Řetízkárna - (Mind) Changing Room

Bringing to life a community center in a former prisoners´ changing room that became a symbol of the local place of fading memory.


Who is behind this?

Tomáš Bouška

Spolek Političtí vě

Czech Republic

Who is joining forces?

KPV ČR (Confederation of Political Prisoners of the Czech Republic)

Czech Republic

EUTIS, o.p.s

Czech Republic

Novinářský inkubátor z. s.

Czech Republic

We inevitably partner with: municipalities of Boží Dar, Jáchymov and Ostrov, Institute for Study of Totalitarian Regimes, Scouts, Magazine Herzgebirge, Montanregion Krušné hory and many others.


Idea pitch

We are saving a ruin of a building, a last standing witness of two historical traumas connected with the Nazi and communist regimes in the Czech-German border region. The past events and a silent local trauma create an ideal reason for turning the collapsing construction to a community center where people can meet, talk, listen, learn and change their minds. We aim at putting together diverse groups of local inhabitants that have failed to accept each other as a community so far.

Where will your project idea take place?

Jáchymov, Erzgebirge, North-West Bohemia

What is the specific societal challenge faced by this region?

The region was strongly influenced by past events and for a long time there was a lack of a dialogue between locals, dis-rooted Sudeten Germans, persecuted political prisoners, settled newcomers and younger generations who come to Erzgebirge due to popular sport activities. The place of memory, the very ruin of the miners´Changing Room (Řetízkárna) is nowadays largely forgotten, collapsing in the heart of a vacation resort that is standing on a former uranium forced labor camp. Thousands of people (literally) pass by without noticing. We believe such circumstances are not acceptable anymore. This place is the most striking and yet the most symbolic location in the Jáchymov uranium district. We are confident it will be turned to a mind changing tool for a new community to emerge.

Who are you doing it for?

There is a growing interest of the 1/ ex-Sudeten Germans and their families to discover and explore the place of their former settlements, 2/ ex-political prisoners of Czechoslovakia and ex-prisoners of war of German origin and their families to learn more about the mode of operation of the former mine and labor camp Rovnost, 3/ wider public to explore the knowledge trail of “Jachymov Hell” of which the memorial place and ruin of Retizkarna is a part. Youth is a vital target group and we can make these diverse age groups work together through our partner organisations and experience we gained in the past years on the very spot.

How do you plan to get there?

We have prepared a large crowdfunding campaign to involve public as well as we have prepared mutual grant application to cover the reconstruction investment. With the support of the local municipality of Boží Dar (Gottesgab) we applied for a financial support within the cross border cooperation with the free state Saxony allowing us to reconstruct the changing room physically.
While preparing the reconstruction of the Changing Room, we will produce a set of attractive activities allowing us to make the local community involved and re-connected, bring the people on the very spot, on a regular basis, for a reason. We want to build a yurt for the indoor activities and arrange the surrounding natural areas (forest and large garden space) to be able to organize the outdoor events and happenings there. Our experience with volunteering gives us confidence we will manage.

What are the expected results?

The expected result is a vital community around reconstructed Řetízkárna - The changing room. At the end of this project people in the area of Erzgebirge will get to know the spot, its address and types of events held in its premises. A new meeting spot will be built and warmed up, visited and shared. Topical debates, commemorations, teaching, sports, exhibitions and science popularizations will be held on the spot with a frequency of one event per week at minimum. A plan of events will be designed and run following the experiences and calendar events of the project partners. A safe port to the activities that had to be often held outdoors and miles away from the place of memory will be born.

How does your idea strengthen active citizenship at a local and community level?

Despite emotional opinion exchanges in the fields of politics, recent past or elections it remains clear people need to go on living next to each other. Most of them love the surrounding mountain districts and nature and will be interested in the magic behind radioactive ore under their feet in the valleys around presented by a well-chosen experts. Despite their antagonistic political thinking and doing they like to participate at public cultural events e.g. saving local mining procedures, habits and traditional hand made products. Through these activities we mean to bring together people of different opinion, past and even political deeds. By listening, watching and discussing, meeting and working together on a common project a sense of belonging will be (re)invented and rooted.

Why is this idea important to you?

Our team has a long term interest in a shift of the attitude and people´s oblivion preventing them to understand each other better. We have reconstructed the local knowledge trail there, we organized numerous events for visitors and locals, triggered oral history research and for example organized a concert of popular band composed of disabled young musicians in this handicapped place. For twelve years we were improvising in the area and the very locality of the Changing Room surrounded by no signs of a former slave labor camp (called Rovnost-Equality!). We knew this would be the ideal space. In 2020 we finally managed to open a dialogue with the owner of the ruin. With our partners, we have the opportunity to build a dignified place and launch a real venue for dialogue.

€ 35000,-

Total budget

€ 35000,-

Funding requested from Civic Europe

Major expenses

Travel and accommodation costs: 2000 EUR
Community meetings event costs : 5000 EUR
Web & graphic design, communication materials, publicity: 5000 EUR
Experts fees: 2000 EUR
Event management: 9000 EUR
Administration costs and project coordination: 9000 EUR
Research costs, fees for archival materials: 2000 EUR
Video & drone editing: 1000 EUR

What do you need from the Civic Europe community?

Please be critical and tell us openly, if we just sound like a bunch of idealists/Don Quijots or if you feel our project is doable. We are sure we do the right thing on the right place. We are unsure if the time has come to achieve it 30 years after Cold War. And we definitely hope to involve you.


Tomas Bouska

Michael Murad

Helena Penno Hartlová

Michal Louč

Idea created on April 23, 2021
Last edit on April 26, 2021

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