Operation VK

Sixty-eight years ago, during the night of 13/14 April, the first stage of the so called “Operation K” (Akce K in Czech) took place in Czechoslovakia. During that night 219 monasteries were forcefully closed by the State Police and more than 2000 monks and nuns were moved to internment camps. The “Operation K” was carried out in two stages, both taking place in April 1950, and is well known to researchers as well as the public today. However, much less is known about the “Operation VK” – the operation in which the forced clearing of monasteries was carried out.

Immediately after the moving out of the members of monasteries, special committees, made up of local officials and representatives of the monasteries that had been appointed by the State Authority for Religious Matters, were supposed to do the cataloguing of the property in the monasteries’ to avoid misappropriation and theft. They were followed by the cultural committees established as part of the same Authority in May 1950, whose task was to appraise and classify the property. Art works and collections, archival materials and books were divided between state archives, regional and local museums, archives and libraries. Liturgical items made from precious metals were move to the vaults of the State Bank.

The operation was carried out in much chaos and was accompanied with destruction of movable property of the monasteries that went beyond repair, and also with large scale thefts. The photographs show monasteries in Strahov (Prague) and Kadaň, North Bohemia where books from the monastery in Obořiště were transferred. Obořiště was originally intended as the storage of books from the cleared monasteries, but later the government’s location committee assigned it to the Ministry of Justice which had all the books transferred to Kadan and Strahov. The books were actually loaded with pitchfork, stacked up to the height of 2 m and thrown into the space between the stack and a wall. The Religious institution “Náboženská matice” was entrusted with the task to administer the property of the cleared monasteries. Its liquidation department filed an inspection report in January 1953, preserved in our file code H-184. According to that report, some 12 thousand books were transferred to Kadaň and Strahov from Obořiště. The photographs are stored in the investigation file code V-1910 MV.