The Broumov Monastery

Archival materials describing the liquidation of male monastic communities by the communist regime as part of the so-called “Mission K” (Akce K in Czech) have now been, for the most part, well-known by academic as well as private researchers. Similarly as male orders and congregations, also the female communities were closed and isolated in the early 1950s on the same systematic basis and with the same consistency under the code name “Mission R” (Akce Ř in Czech). While the State Police was very active as regards members of the male communities and opened many operative and investigation files, enabling us today to make a detailed historical survey of every community and some of their important figures, this was not the case with the female orders, making their materials a lot less informative. It makes it all the more unique when archival materials are found pertaining to this topic. It is the case of the newly discovered investigation file on the females interned as part of the Mission R in what was originally a Benedictine monastery in Broumov, East Bohemia.

The investigation file, now under call no. V-245 HK, was opened by the Investigation Department of the Regional Directorate of the Ministry of the Interior on 27 November 1954 as Anna Špičáková’s personal investigation file. Anna Špičáková maintained contact with the members of the School Sisters of Notre Dame order from the 1930s. When the Sisters were interned in 1950, she worked on intermediating the contact between the general abbess Zbislava Krumpová (1946–1951) and the order members who were placed all around the country in various worksites and centralisation camps. For four years, she secretly distributed letters and passed on verbal messages regarding the operating and personal matters of the congregation.[1]

Elections to local, district and regional councils were held in Czechoslovakia in May 1954, and to the National Assembly in November 1954. These events were closely followed by the totalitarian state’s security apparatus. The then general vicar Vlasta Marie Ptáková, held in the centralisation monastery in Javorník, probably gave no statement to the sisters regarding the elections, and let them freely decide if they wanted to cast the ballot or not. She was, however, naturally interested in the attitude of each community, and also recommended the nuns to measure the risk of not turning up at the election and its possible consequences. Anna Špičáková assisted as an intermediate in this matter, too. When she found that the sisters in Horní Staré Město, now part of Trutnov, East Bohemia intended to refuse to cast their votes, she allegedly recommended them to stay united in their opinion, and informed of their decision the other communities she visited. She was charged of “agitation and persuasion” to make the sisters refuse the election for local councils. During the investigation and the court hearing, her listening to Radio Free Europe and distributing news from the broadcast among the nuns during her visits of the communities was an aggravating circumstance. The District Court of Broumov sentenced her to six months in prison on 8 March 1955 for sedition against the republic.[2]

The School Sisters of Notre Dame, interned in the Broumov monastery and also in Olivetin, now part of Broumov, probably did not cast the ballot in the May 1954 elections. The subject file pertaining to Mission K keeps a teleprint from the Regional Directorate of the Ministry of Interior in Hradec Králové dated 1 September 1954 for the 3rd Directorate in Prague (Inland Intelligence) of moving these sisters to the centralising monastery in Osek. It says that “this measure has to be adopted because of the hostile attitude of the School Sisters which was manifested in the election to local councils and also in order to prevent further disturbance of the elections to the National Assembly, as the measure is intended to separate them from other religious orders which they won’t be able to influence”. The file also holds a teleprint according to which 72 nuns of this congregation left Broumov for Osek on 10 September 1954.[3]

Eventually we can also mention the statistical summary of participation of order sisters in the election to the National Assembly, held in November 1954. Three sisters in Osek did not cast the ballot, but in other places the attendance was usually 100%. They, however, showed their disapproval in a different way. In the Šebetov facility, for instance, 8 clean ballots were cast, each with an inscription “We want Krč! We don’t want the election!”[4] It probably referred to their previous place in Prague-Krč, to which they eventually returned after 1989.

[1] ABS, Department of Investigation – Files, call no. V-245 HK.

[2] Ibidem.

[3] ABS, Historical files, call no. H-718.

[4] Ibidem.