The border guard Jaroslav Kunc was eager to get home. But the regime was strict and holiday was granted only as a reward. And from his wife’s letter he knew that his little daughter is already doing her first steps. He wanted to see her. He knew that if one holds someone who tries to cross the border, he gets a holiday. As a reward. He made a crazy decision: under the pretence of an attempt to escape, he would shoot his friend and fellow soldier.

He really did that. On 6 June 1956 he treacherously shot dead his Slovak colleague Štefan Pugzík. It happened at the Thaya River in today's National Park Podyjí in the Znojmo region. He shot him insidiously and unexpectedly. Pugzík was dead on the spot.

Twenty-years-old Kunc realized the crazy idea just to get home. This extremely tragic case, which happened at the Iron Curtain, shows what kind of relationships and atmosphere ruled at the border units. And what pressure must the young men have been exposed to when separated from their families.

Moreover, the circumstances were not completely clear at the outset. No one knew what happened on the spot. It was exactly noon when two men armed with machine guns and rifle went on a tour around the Austrian border. The Thaya River was humming beneath. At 4 pm both of them again appeared at the Company and then went to check wire barricades. The last people, who talked to them before that fateful moment, were two soldiers who kept guard at the observation post. It was sometime before 6 pm.

Since then Pugzík and Kunc were left alone. And then one could hear the shooting. After difficult and repeated investigations, Kunc confessed to the murder. "In my defence I am declaring that I acted in this manner in order to earn a holiday" he said.

Photo gallery

Kratochvíl`s gamekeeper house
Kratochvíl`s gamekeeper houseKratochvíl`s gamekeeper house

Štefan Pugzík - archive photo
Štefan PugzíkŠtefan PugzíkŠtefan PugzíkŠtefan PugzíkŠtefan PugzíkŠtefan Pugzík

Walking route suggestion

  1. Podyjí
  2. Kratochvíl`s gamekeeper house (later premises of the border guard called Hájenka- Gamekeeper house)
  3. The route of former roadway to the Thaya River