Imaging a Shattering Earth: Contemporary Photography and the Environmental Debate
Home Page
Partnerships
The Exhibition
Introduction
Artists
Gallery
Iconography
Related Programs
Catalogue


[Return to Iconography List]

Libkovice, Bohemia, Czech Republic

Until the 1990s, Libkovice was a small city in the Czech Republic of only 686 residents. It was located in Northern Bohemia, an area well-known for its brown coal. One of the world’s oldest cities, Libkovice celebrated its 800th anniversary in 1986. Unfortunately, within the next year, the citizens of this quiet town received notice that the village would be evacuated to make way for a coal strip mine.

The state-owned coal mining company Hlubina was responsible for this notice. In 1987, they began purchasing homes and buildings from the citizens of Libkovice, and then began destroying them in 1990. Those who sold their property without resistance were rewarded by Hlubina with decent-sized checks; however, the coal company was ruthless to those who put up a fight. One of the residents that refused to leave the village was the mayor of Libkovice himself, Stanislav Brichacek. Even after Hlubina cut off his water supply and electricity and sabotaged his car and tractor, Brichacek managed to hold out against the company until 1998, when he was finally forced to leave his home due to cancer.

To this day, despite the evacuation, no mining has taken place in Libkovice. At first, Hlubina claimed that the site was unstable and unsafe for its inhabitants because of its geographical location and over-mining in the surrounding areas. It was for these reasons, they claim, that they had decided to raze the village in order to create a coal mine. However, independent researchers have concluded that Libkovice was not unsafe for its citizens. Be that as it may, all plans to create a coal mine have stalled.

Most recently, several families who once called the razed, historic village of Libkovice home have petitioned the government for the right to buy back their land and rebuild their lives. This process is complicated because Hlubina is no longer owned by the Czech government, but rather by the Appian Group in Washington, D.C. Since the company is now exempt from Czech laws, cases may have to be tried in International Court. Trials are pending.

Libkovice’s history is a sad tale, but perhaps the most disappointing note of all is that Libkovice was not alone. More than 200,000 people had lost their homes before the bulldozers of Hlubina reached the city gates. Libkovice was merely one out of 100 cities that shared the same fate.

Selected Bibliography

Haverkamp, Jan. “Does a Village Have Rights?” Jinn Magazine, 1 Feb. 2000. Weblink.

Ibrahimovic, Ibra. “Libkovice.” Spectrum Pictures, 2005. Weblink.

Libkovice, Bohemia, Czech Republic Pictures in the Gallery