Bratislava: A Walk Along the WWII Frontier

It’s again time for new adventures. This morning I left Susann at home and headed to the airport. The destination? To visit my brother in Bratislava for the weekend. A short flight later I landed at the airport in Vienna, ran out to catch the bus to Bratislava and eventually I got off at the Einsteinova street in the suburb of Petržalka. It was time to meet up my brother and start the weekend with a walk along the Austrian-Slovak border, along with the old WWII Frontier.

Our Plan – The WWII Frontier

The plan for the day was to discover more sights in Bratislava. Before the outbreak of World War II, Czechoslovakia decided to build fortifications along its borders. In Bratislava, several fortifications were built along the border with Austria.

It was some of these fortifications and bunkers that we wanted to see today. Our plan was to start with Bunker BS-10 and then continue all the way to BS-1. This was a walk that we had estimated to be around 20 kilometers. We walked along what was once the WWII frontier.

Heading to the Border

The fog covered the whole city of Bratislava when I arrived. But that did not stop us. We started walking south towards the Austrian border. Three of the bunkers are close to the border crossing between Petržalka and Kittsee.

When arriving at the border, the first thing you meet is Bunker BS-9. This is one of the smaller of the fortifications, but it is still quite impressive. BS-9 is a place I have visited several times before, so it was Bunker BS-10 that we decided to find this time. Heading along the border Google Maps eventually made us aware of the fact that we should have arrived. Looking around we couldn’t find the bunker in question and we started to wonder what was wrong. We did eventually find out where it was, on the opposite side of a muddy field. So, there was no chance for us to be able to even get close to it.

Bunker BS-9, Petržalka, Bratislava, Slovakia, Second World War

Bunker BS-8

Susann and I visited Bunker BS-8 a few years ago. That time we were lucky enough to get a guided tour inside the bunker. This is one of a few such constructions that is a museum. There is also a World War I cemetery nearby. Of the bunkers we saw during the day this is one of the most impressive ones. Walking around the bunker, we looked at all the barbed wire and other obstacles. There are still border warnings from the time the Iron Curtain went through this area. It is hard to imagine what the WWII frontier was like, as it is so easy to cross it today. Walking along it, the past will remind you of its existence.

Leaving Bunker BS-8 we hoped to spot BS-7. It is nearby, but again in the middle of a mud field. So it will have to wait until the next time we take a walk along the WWII frontier.

Bunker BS-8 ,Petržalka, Bratislava, Slovakia, Second World War Petržalka, Bratislava, Slovakia, Second World War

Bunker BS-6

Another one of the larger fortifications was the Bunker BS-6. It is on the other side of the highway and we had to find a way across. Once more the maps on our phones came to our help. We would probably have missed several of the bunkers without the maps and location data.

Bunker BS-6 looked like it had seen better days and so did the fields around it. Hopefully, this place will be taken better care of during the summer months. What did leave an impression on us was the memorial to all the people who were executed in the Petržalka Amassing Camp. We hadn’t heard of any camp in Bratislava and we are still wondering whether it is related to WWII or the Cold War. Anyone who knows?

Bunker BS-6 ,Petržalka, Bratislava, Slovakia, Second World War, WWII frontier Bunker BS-6 ,Petržalka, Bratislava, Slovakia, Second World War, WWII frontier Bunker BS-6 ,Petržalka, Bratislava, Slovakia, Second World War

Bunker BS-4

I had not been to Bunker BS-4 before but my brother had visited it once before. At that time he had arrived from the opposite direction. What we did now was to continue along the road towards where the maps told us we would find Bunker BS-4. What we didn’t know was that the walking path would disappear into nowhere and that the road would continue as an exit ramp right onto the highway. That was not exactly where we wanted to go. It did take us quite some time to find a safer way.

Eventually, we did arrive at Bunker BS-4. The whole site around the bunker has been prepared for visitors. There were trenches and other fortification obstacles, making it possible to imagine how well defended the site must have been back in the day.

Bunker BS-4 ,Petržalka, Bratislava, Slovakia, Second World War Bunker BS-4 ,Petržalka, Bratislava, Slovakia, Second World War Bunker BS-4 ,Petržalka, Bratislava, Slovakia, Second World War

Bunker BS-2 and BS-3

Not knowing the exact location of Bunker BS-2 and BS-3 we headed back out on the old border roads. The road continued out into a forest and we followed it until our phones told us that Bunker BS-3 was a bit further in from the road. We headed out in the bushes hunting for the site. We found some animal tracks, but it was really hard to find the bunker. The tracks disappeared time after another and we needed to go back and find a new option.

Once our phones told us that we were at the site of Bunker BS-3, we couldn’t understand where to look for it. We were standing with bushes all around us, with no sight of the bunker. It was when we almost had given up that we looked around a few tree branches and saw a gun turret 2-3 meters away. Talk about well hidden. Once we had finally spotted it, we noticed that the bunker was a lot larger than we had expected. We had been standing on top of it for quite some time before finding it.

Bunker BS-2 turned out to be another fight with the bushes, but we did eventually find also this bunker. BS-2 was a lot easier to spot from the distance and we were happy to see the gun turret between the trees.

Bunker BS-3 ,Petržalka, Bratislava, Slovakia, Second World War Bunker BS-2 ,Petržalka, Bratislava, Slovakia, Second World War, WWII frontier

Enough?

This was when we started to get quite tired. So far we had walked around 16 kilometers and had a few more left to get back to the civilization. We opted not to continue to Bunker BS-1, as we didn’t know how far we would need to walk to reach it. So instead we headed back towards the highway and the cycle road that follows it. After crossing the Danube we were soon on a tram heading home to my brother. Around 20 kilometers of walking was enough for one day.

In case you want to know more about the history of the region and the old WWII frontier – or just fancy a hike -, I do recommend you to do this walk.

Share

23 Comments

  1. What were the thoughts going through your mind when you were on this walk? The region still has a dismal, deserted, depressing air about it…isn’t it? For some reason, reminds me Anne Frank’s House in Amsterdam.

    1. I can add that there was no real fighting along this border as Slovakia joined the Tripartite Pact making the border a none hostile frontier. What does create a special feeling when walking along the border is the knowledge that this was where the Iron Curtain once went, separating Eastern and Western Europe. Numerous people did die trying to cross over to the west. The heavy fog during the day of our walk did also create a special feeling.

  2. Agree with you walking the world war remains is much easier today and a lot difficult at the same time. Imagining what it would have been several decades ago gives us shivers. The whole area around the bunkers looks desolate has it been converted into a museum? Visiting these sites we believe is a great way to pay respect to the soldiers we would definitely want to visit this place in Bratislava

    1. Hello, Rashmi and Chalukya, some of the bunkers has been made into museums and some of the other bunkers are a part of the museums. What is nice is that none of the bunkers has been made into a modern museum, they are all preserved. Luckily there was no fighting along this border, this due to that Slovakia joining the Tripartite Pact made the frontier between Austria and Slovakia a more friendly one.

  3. A 20km day sounds pretty exhausting, but looks like an amazing bit of history. I’m not sure if it was the weather when you were there or the feeling from the pictures, but it seems like an eerie place to visit. Is the path typically busier in the summer months?

    1. We tend to walk quite a lot when traveling, so 20 km is not so far. It usually is the best way to enjoy the surroundings. I actually do not know if there are more visitors during the summer, I have not seen so many people around any time I have been around the border. But as usual, there are probably a few more people during the summer.

  4. World war 2 brings haunting images in front of me. These pictures of the frontiers have just brought the horrors of war alive . It’s always good to know more history though., as the saying goes, if we do not know about history, we are forced to repeat it!

  5. Visiting these kind of bunkers always gives me mixed feelings. The feeling of excitement on exploring a new and offbeat place. But at the same time, the feeling of sadness because these are after all reminiscent of a cruel war. But I guess they do teach us a lot about the history.

  6. The site is so disappointing to visit and those bunkers and barren land remind of the tragic history. But the ultimate truth is we need to respect those soldiers who lost their lives and pray that it should never repeat!

  7. Dane

    The amount of history in this part of the world always blows me away. Your photos are so crazy! I can’t believe that tank in particular it looks so surreal like it just should not be there! 20kms is such a giant walk also haha I can understand you were exhausted but it looks like it was completely worth it at the end of the day

  8. I have never visited any of such bunkers. They teach us so much about the history. I can well imagine the mixed feelings you might have gone through. What we see today is because of the efforts of so many who lost their lives.. 20 km is a huge walk but I am sure this effort is worth and a good tribute to martyrs.

  9. Whenever i think about WWII , battles , pain , shattered stories , revenge just paints my mind. Walking WWII Frontier must have been like turning pages of those days of war. It has such a deep rooted silence around it and that shouts so many layered emotions. Interesting post.

  10. I have visited Bratislava before, on a day trip from Vienna, but I did not think to search for signs of the World War II. I didn’t even know they existed. It’s impressive how even if there are no other people around in your photos and it seems that it’s not a touristic place, someone thought of recreating the conditions of how it used to be in the war, for the Bunker BS-4. The fog definitely created a special atmosphere and you can easily imagine scenes from the war.

  11. All the photos have an eerie kind of look to it and the deserted bunkers add to it. It is such a pity that they are not well maintained at all. Sometimes history is required to give us a perspective so that we don’t do the same foolish things all over again.

    1. Sometimes bunkers like these are more interesting to visit when they have not been maintained – when they have been left as it once was. At the same time, it is really nice that they have taken care of at least a few of them and made them into museums. 🙂

  12. I remember visiting some bunkers on Indian side in east of India… that was during the analog days. A walk through them does give a sad creepy feel. The pictures are indeed a grim reminder of deadly past.

Leave a Comment