Czech reality TV show recreates life under Nazi occupation

A new Czech reality program challenges a family to live under a replica of the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia in order to win prize money.

Nazi occupied Czechoslovakia

Map of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. (Wikipedia/XrysD)

Live under Nazi occupation, win prize money. That is the premise of a controversial new reality TV series in the Czech Republic, called “Holiday in the Protectorate,” which attempts to recreate the experience of living on a farmstead in Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia.

The program, which premiered last weekend, features a three-generational family living on a farmstead under fake Nazi occupation. The family is subjected to wartime rations and other restrictions, surrounded by actors playing German soldiers and Gestapo. This is in addition to more basic changes, such as wearing period clothing and using period furniture. If they can manage for two months, they will win a substantial sum of money.

“Holiday in the Protectorate” predictably aroused a great deal of anger even before its premiere, not least because it is produced by the state-owned Czech Television. “This is a perversion,” wrote one commenter. “It’s an insult to those who really suffered through it.”

Another said, “People know what went on and how bad it was. What are they going to do next? Big Brother Auschwitz?”

Of the 82,300 Jews who lived in the territory when it was annexed by Germany, 71,000 were murdered in the Holocaust.

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“When starting the project, we knew that it may provoke a discussion on how far such genre may go. I tried to show that period with utter seriousness and with respect for its tragic character,” director Zora Cejnkova told CTK news agency.

“We are aware that it is controversial to return to so turbulent a period. However, we believe that it is correct to attempt to do this, providing that certain ethical rules and historical reality are observed,” she said.

Some 360,000 Czechs and Slovaks are estimated to have died during WWII.