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Visit of the Mírov Prison and Olomouc

Author: Jan Burda, published: 05/11/2015 21:51 | 0 comments

On 30th and 31st of October 2015, second Institutional Visit to the Mírov Prison and the city of Olomouc was held jointly by ELSA Brno, ELSA Praha and ELSA Olomouc. This event was quite extraordinary thanks to the participation of ELSA Praha. Together, we formed a group of twenty young students, eager for knowledge, getting to know each other and exploring new places, not yet visited by us.

Everything began at the Brno's main station where eight delegates of our local group gathered to jointly depart for Mohelnice where a meeting with the Prague delegation was scheduled to happen. From there, after all the necessary pleasantries, we moved to Mírov, one of our harshest prisons, where the inmates are only the worst among us – perpetrators of the most heinous crimes. But it was not always that way…

Mírov's history stretches as far as 13th century, when the castle was founded by Brun of Schauenburk, Bishop of Olomouc. The castle managed to withstand the Hussite wars and even its conquest by the Swedes in the 30 years war. Then, its military importance started to deteriorate and the castle was finally changed into prison in 1772. The castle served as a prison for political prisoners during the Protectorate and the Communist rule; and even though there were attempts to close the prison after the revolution, it still remains a prison.

We arrived around 10 o'clock, made some quick photodocumentation of the whole group and there was nothing in a way of the tour! Our guide was Mr. Květoslav Vlasák, special pedagogue with 35 years of experience; he can thus be considered a hardened vet of working with prisoners: he knows exactly what to expect, how to approach them and nothing can surprise him; he gave us the impression of a resolute man. After a brief introduction of his experience and the history of the prison, he started to describe an average day. He mentioned a lot of examples he had met during his work with. Lot of them were beyond belief, such as a man who has saved 800.000 crowns throughout the timespan of his sentence; all thanks to a work he had done here. Finding out, that murderers make better librarians than engineers do, was quite amusing and rather shocking at the same time. There was also space for our questions; there were many of them and all were answered properly. This whole part of our journey happened outside of the prison's walls; in a common room of sorts. After an hour and a half – that, however, ended rather quickly – we were taken for our „prison patrol“. The patrol consisted of a visit of a local church that is, however, definitely not the most visited place; a basement used mainly by bats as a cosy place to live in; and a stroll on the outer walls – quite an adrenaline packed experience for some of us. Which is not that much of a surprise when one takes into consideration that he is watched closely by the prisoners and has the guards behind him; with assault rifles and shotguns. Everyone managed to overcome his fears and we were rewarded with an opportunity to witness the window that Jiří Kájínek used for his daring escape. The last interesting remark of our guide was an information that wealth of a prisoner is easily detectable by the price of their wristwatches; that can reach even several tens of thousands crowns.

Then we boarded the bus and departed for Olomouc where we already were awaited by ELSA Olomouc. It is very hard to imagine what must go through canteen employees' minds when twenty hungry students storm into the doors; with well-deserved food on their minds. Canteen's personnel braved this challenge flawlessly and we could head for our accommodation. The Hotel House, our temporary home, was not exactly in the center of the main square, but we saw for ourselves that a local proverb stating that nothing is far away in Olomouc is actually quite true. On top of that, everyone could witness that taxi is very cheap in Olomouc. After a small but refreshing break – that allowed us to regain our strength as well as get to know each other – we headed for a dinner. We were not strangers to each other anymore so the air in the restaurant was soon filled with a sound of passionate debates on each and every topic imaginable. This considered, there was no way to end the day but with a glass of wine to celebrate our new friendship.

Saturday morning was spent by a very pleasant sightseeing in the city bathed in the sunlight. We did not forget to stop by the Holy Trinity Column – a UNESCO World Heritage List monument – that dominates one of local squares. We also set our eyes on the astronomical clock of Olomouc; its bells announcing the noon were a reminder of coming lunch – the last event together with ELSA Praha and ELSA Olomouc. We said our goodbyes and headed back to Brno, where this enjoyable and successful journey finally ended.

As evaluations indicated, it was quite a successful and enriching Institutional Visit that is to be recommended to all the interested people in the future. Main reasons for such a sounding success are:

1)     Mírov – an excellent guide, many real-life stories and flawless answers to our questions.

2)     Cooperation with ELSA Praha and ELSA Olomouc – new friends, massive teambuilding on a national level in an amazing surroundings.

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