#AtoZChallenge Day 21: Ústí nad Labem
Ústí nad Labem is a city in the Czech Republic
Ústí is a very interesting place to visit. It’s not a city that is touted in guide books as a “must-see,” and even Czechs will be puzzled as to why you’d want to go there. “Why are you going to Ústí?” they’d ask me. “That city is a dump. It is dirty, and the people there are not nice.” My class was going to a multicultural festival so I didn’t really have a choice, but I would go back if I did. Because I think that visiting places like Ústí are important for people to see.
Ústí was once part of the Czech-German area known as the Sudetenland. After World War II, the Czech government ordered the exile of thousands of Germans based on the war Nazi crimes inflicted upon Czechs. It was a wicked violation of civil rights, as many of the Czech-Germans were against Nazism and had nothing to do with concentration camps, turning in Jews, etc. They left behind them whole villages that became ghost towns. With almost 1/3 of the country’s population gone, the new Communist government filled the empty homes with Roma, or gave them away as “summer homes.”
Many of the villages became destitute and internal, racial conflicts arose. Ústí is one of those cities. Although it is the largest city in north western Czech Republic, the streets felt empty despite the festival we attended. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves but it also seemed like the only people attending the festival were school children, and outside travelers, like us. I’d be interested to see Ústí again on a normal day, and talk to some of its citizens. Prague is a beautiful Czech city, but in places like Ústí, you will get a real feel for the country I think.