Bunker BS-8 and the Bratislava-Petržalka Defence Arc

I usually look out for war related sights and museums whilst on my travels. This is one aspect in which Bratislava is relatively poor; the most obvious site is the Slavín War Memorial overlooking central Bratislava. However, after a little research I learned of Bunker BS-8 at Kopčany, part of a pre-WWII defence system situated to the south of the city, near the border with Austria.

Getting there

I took a local bus to Nákupná zóna Lúky in Petržalka, and then followed the footpath around to Kopčianska, under the E65 road, and over the Petržalka-Vienna railway line – the Kopčianska bus stop was probably a better option. As the weather was fantastic and it was only 600 m to the border, I decided to walk to the Austrian village of Kittsee. The surrounding area is very popular with cyclists, with both Austrians and Slovaks making use of border free travel, a very different scenario to the times of the Iron Curtain. On that note, I noticed an old Czechoslovakian border post and the remains of a barrier.

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Czechoslovakian border post

Bunker BS-8

In response to the increasing threat from Hitler and facism during the 1930s, Czechoslovakia began the construction of bunkers and fortresses in the border regions. One such example was the 9 km long Bratislava-Petržalka Defense Arc, which featured 15 bunkers designed to help protect the only area of Czechoslovakia that was south of river Danube. One of these bunkers (BS-8) has been restored by volunteers, and is now a small museum.

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The renovated bunker

The bunker is fairly well hidden, and were it not for the signs, it would be very easy to miss. It doesn’t seem to be particularly well publicised either, which is strange given how accesible it is from Bratislava. From the road, I followed the footpath that skirts around the cornfield for around 300 m, and arrived at the bunker site.

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View from bunker towards Bratislava

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View of the bunker area

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Guard building

Having wandered around, I noticed that a group of people began to gather in front of the main entrance, and an old guy wearing a camouflage jacket started a power generator. As I latching onto this group, he gave a brief introductary talk (in Slovak) as we waited for the lights to come on. On touring the lower level of the bunker we saw the communication room and kitchen, as well as the two main rooms that housed the anti-tank guns and machine guns. There were a variety of uniforms from both the Czechoslovakian army and the SS, as well weapons and artefacts. As previously mentioned, the guide didn’t speak English, and all the information was in Slovak, although it was still an interesting 30 minute tour. Hopefully I can return with a native speaker at some point!

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The communication room

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A well stocked kitchen

Whilst the tour itself is free, there is an oppurtunity to donate a few Euros, which seems reasonable considering this was restored through the efforts of volunteers. Adjacent to the bunker is a WWI cemetary, the final resting place for soldiers of several nationalities, although many of the graves are inscribed with ‘Neznamy’, which means ‘unknown’.

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WWI cemetery

I’d definitely recommend a visit to this site if you are interested in military history. The opening hours are quite short, usually only opening in the afternoon and early evening, although it’s best to check their website for latest opening times. As previously mentioned, the Kopčianska stop is more convenient – take bus #80 from Zachova (€0.70 each way) and from there it’s a ten minute walk to the bunker.

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