GULAG 1948

The task of this game is to demand freedom of expression and freedom of movement in support of political prisoners. Try to open the game symbols of all prisons and gulags. Free the political prisoners and make the world free of all dictators.

Two games, Gulag 1948 and To Freedom! are described in this chapter. In each case you select the line icon and choose a playing area (layout) to play with. Then you can use this button   to align all the cards in the same order or out of order. In this way, maze-like images can be made. In game Gulag 1948 you start with such an image and play on the screen directly as described below. In the other game, To Freedom!, the initial image must be modified to contain only one prison. Then, in the periphery a continuous line is created, representing a border of the country with a few passes. This is a game template that must be exported and printed. The task is to identify the pass of the border that can be reached by the shortest route from the prison. Several game templates are available for download.

Play Gulag 1948 alone or in a group. As described above, you create a maze-like playing area for yourself or as a game leader for a group. In the latter case, save the file naming it and share it with your fellow players. Create a complex maze in a multi-card format, but the size of the cards should not be below a level that can easily be touched with fingers on the displays used.

Within the playing area enclosed rectangular spaces represent Gulag camps:

The task is to recognize all of these prisons (as highlihted by transparent turqois squares and larger rectangles):

and to open the areas by turning cards that contribute to lines limiting the enclosed areas in as little time as possible with as few card turns as possible. At the bottom bar of the game there is a counter that keeps track of the number of steps (card turns) and the time. Touching the counter pauses it until you touch a card again. Stop the counter after opening the ultimate prison and either save the game or take a screen shot like this:

The result shows that this game took 54 seconds and was completed with 15 moves.

The players share their results with others. Wins who opened all the prisons within the shortest time. If two players achieve the same time, one with fewer moves is winning. Can be played at different times. A gentlemen's agreement can be reached that only one play attempt is allowed.

To play the game GULAG 1948  order  cardandcube #3.


To play the game To Freedom! the line icon is selected and a playing area (layout) to play with is chosen. Then this button    is used to align all the cards in the same order and eventually out of order. In this way, maze-like images can be made. To prepare the game for a group it is nice to have a playmaker. The task of the playmaker is to prepare the game materials and the participants for the game. Depending on the age of the players then freedom, democracy, despotism, political prisoners and prison conditions can be discussed with them at an appropriate level. An example of an image of a chaotic maze-like structure with a few squares is here:
This initial image must be modified to contain only one square that represents a prison of the gulag (G) as shown below. For this purpose the enclosed areas in the original image are all opened by rotating cards, except for the square closest to the centre of the image. The paths are laid out as corridors between the outside of the prison and the exits. Then, in the periphery a continuous line is created, resembling a border of the country in which the prison is localized. In the border a few passes (F) must remain:
The game template will be prepared without any label and exported. Then prints are made to match the number of participants. In other words, the Game To Freedom! is best to play with a group and is an ideal ocassion to think of an endangered political prisoner. In a labyrinth-like image a square representing a prison is localized. The group may decide the direction to break out and find the shortest route from the spot outside the prison to an escape place in the "state border". If you like the idea and want to try out, you even do not have to buy our app. At the end of this chapter there are game templates for free. 

Depending on the number of players, the template is printed and distributed together with pencils. Now the participants can consider which of the four "walls" of the prison are designed to overcome. They determine a location of the "breakout" (a-d). From that moment on, everyone plays a dissident or a political prisoner who is looking for freedom. Freedom is not achieved until one has left the entire territory of the dictatorship. There are two escape routes from any agreed escape point: to the left or to the right along the wall the escapees wish to het away from. They should consider briefly which is better.

The path taken is traced in pencil. The aim of the game is to decide as quickly as possible for the shorter way and to find the way "to freedom".Anybody thinks he or she has made it, tells the others. The winner is the first to find the shortest route to freedom.

During the discussion, consider advantages and disadvantages the different escape routes may have. In some cases we offer for the free download there is an "unfortunate" alternative to choose from among the escape routes. Its "escape route" leads back to prison.

Depending on the size of the playing area that has been prepared, the "fugitives" may be given a deadline in which they cannot be caught. After the comparative evaluation of the escape successes, a liberation can be celebrated together. The opera fans may choose to listen to Beethoven's Fidelio or its Ouverture while discussing or playing. In the game, all adversaries are only abstractly present - you can deal with them appropriately verbally.

After the escape lines have been erased, the same template can be used to attempt a breakout on a different side of the prison. Depending on the mood, the deadline for drawing in the chosen escape route can be shortened.

If a template with multiple openings in the outer border is used for play, the game can be carried out without agreeing on a breakout side. The players should find both the most favorable exit side and the shortest path.

Dedication and present. We dedicate our Freedom Games to support political prisoners and to commemorate the Third Czechoslovak Resistance. If you are interested in history and in people determined to live free, don't miss reading the story of the family of resistance fighter Václav Švéda by Jáchym Topol !

Please consider how to instill a love of freedom or a determination to defend freedom when you are dealing with children and teenagers! Pass on to the next generation your squadron of defending freedom, tolerance and human rights and opposing dictatorships. You may tell the story in the style of the Fidelio-crash-course while playing our games!
To make your clever templates of the game TO FREEDOM! visit cardandcube #3.
TEMPLATES FOR DOWNLOAD: 2F 12x12 | 2F 12x12 +S | 2F 24x16 A | 2F 24x16 B | 4F 24x16 A | 4F 24x16 B and  abbreviations legend.



The idea for our maze games came from the country in which the operator of this website grew up: In particular with the history of democracy in Czechoslovakia (founded 1918, destroyed 1938/39, renewed 1945 and dissolved 1993). The renewal after World War II was not complete because the easternmost part of the country, Carpathian Ukraine which covers 12,000 sq km and has a citizenship of nearly one million and its capital Uzhgorod, was annexed by the Soviet Union. Today most nations recognize this area as part of Ukraine. The rest of what was once Czechoslovakia became dependent on the Soviet Union after the war. The renewal indeed was not possible. A dictator with imperial ambitions snatched the country from another.

Within a short time in Czechoslovakia the Moscow-bound communists smashed the last remnants of democracy that seemed to have returned after the war. Political dissidents were systematically persecuted and exterminated. In the 1950s, show trials were staged with a total of over 260 death sentences and hundreds of thousands were separated from their families and imprisoned in so-called TNP labour camps because of politically motivated administrative decisions. These decisions were made by the 19 Czech regional administrative Communist Party (b5) security commissions in meetings held once or twice a month. As a whole, countrywide, they implemented 400-600 long lasting labour camp internments per month. The minutes of a b5 session in the Brno district on March 25, 1950 are given as an example at the end of this text.

The Communist Party has set up what could be called a private police force and army. Nothing but guns could have prevented that. People who risked or even lost their lives in active resistance deserve to be remembered. We want you to know about it. Freedom appears indivisible: if some of us are not free, then neither are we.

The backgrounds and connections with the Gulag phenomenon listed below bring with them difficult and bad historical experiences. Somewhere in the world, such or similar experiences are made again and again. The stories of opponents of dictators are hardly suitable for conversations with sensitive people. However, cardandcube #3 enables a playful approach to the topic. In this game you and your company can be heroes and free all political prisoners of dictators.


Banishing political dissidents has been done for centuries. Largely in Tsarist Russia, where it was easy to isolate dissenters thousands of miles from their audiences and families. It also happened in Central and Western Europe with a purpose of isolation, rather than a personal harm.

The imprisonment of dissenters in penal camps developed on from their straight banishment. Despots throughout history have banished their opponents to prevent them influencing the public. As a thoroughly desirable side effect, the family of the punished suffered as well. Banishments in the Russian Tsarist Empire were to distant inhospitable areas remote from civilization. With hard work, hunger, cold and special punishments to make this a terrible punishment. The overseers could make hell on earth for the defenseless.

The Gulag was a Soviet system of hybrid prison and labor camps in which opposition figures were imprisoned and used as cheap labor. Unfortunately, the gulags are constantly being perfected, as are the repressive system and borders of the despotically ruled countries.

In 20th century camp systems of enormous proportions were made first in the Soviet Union and then also by the Nazis. After the defeat of the Nazis, some old camps found were repurposed. Post-war Czechoslovakia first used them during the expulsion of German-speaking families from the Sudetenland to separate men and use them as cheap labour. Many were sent to labour camps where uranium ore was mined exclusively for the Soviet Union. Shortly after the end of the war, on November 23, 1945, a long time concealed contract was signed in Prague, obliging the “liberated” country to deliver all nuclear material extracted on state territory to the Soviets. With the dropping of the atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the strategic importance of the uranium deposits in Jáchymov (Joachimstal) became clear to all those in the know. Soviet experts had the say when labour camps with shafts were built in this and new sites in Czechoslovakia, in Příbram (Freiberg in Bohemia) and in Horní Slavkov (Schlaggenwald). The distance from Moscow was nothing those days. The strategic raw material should be given cheaply, en masse and completely to the communist power.

After the 1948 Czechoslovak coup d'état that culminated on February 25 the communists gained unlimited power in Prague. Camps with the uranium mines, in which many Sudeten Germans were initially imprisoned, were then filled with German prisoners of war from the Soviet Union. During the communist dictatorship, these were gradually replaced by political prisoners and plain criminals. At the same time, in February 1948, the Soviet Ministry of Internal Affairs established special camps, special facilities of the Gulag camp system camp system for political prisoners.

The effectiveness of the construction of prison systems for opposition figures in the satellite states in the eastern half of Europe was reflected in the reluctance to accept the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was manifested in the UN vote in December 1948. Almost 75 years have passed since that vote, in which the Soviet Union and its vassals abstained.

Between 1948-1953 the communist dictatorship in Czechoslovakia executed over 260 political opponents. On average, one execution every week. With nasty applause from fanatics and the conformist media.

Towards the end of the rule of the dictators Stalin and Gottwald, in 1953, there were over 17,000 prisoners in the dozen uranium ore mines or penal camps in the three sites mentioned, who had to help under inhumane conditions to turn the eastern bastion of communism into a dreaded nuclear world power. Many of the political prisoners were sentenced to prison terms of more than 20 years. Some have been released halfway through, but in poor health or near death.

Attempts to escape the camps have mostly failed or resulted in the deaths of those who tried. It would only have made sense if it were possible to leave the country. However, the whole country has been fenced off like a camp. A system of controls, obstacles, watchtowers and fences has been erected on the border with western countries and well in front of it. In 1953, eight years before the Berlin Wall was built, a high-voltage wire fence was erected on Czechoslovakia's western, Austrian and western German borders. The game "To Freedom" refers to the fact that escaping from prison can actually only be successful if the fugitive can find a loophole in the national border.


Striving for independence, sovereignty, democracy and freedom were the sources of three resistances of Czechoslovaks in the 20th century. The first one culminated in WW1 through actions of the Czechoslovak Legions fighting against the Central Powers and then against the Bolsheviks. The other two were fighting against and resisting the Nazi fascists and the Czechoslovak communists in the periods of 1938-1945 and 1948-1989, respectively.

The unbroken urge for freedom, which unfortunately many Czechoslovaks lacked in times of oppression, was in the family, which we want to show our respect with our game. The family of General Mayor Josef Mašín (1896-1942). Josef Mašín was 18, when deserted the army of the Austrian Monarchy on the Eastern Front. He became an officer of the Czechoslovak Army and the commander in chief at the airport Ruzyně. In 1939 his superiors prevented him physically from leading his company into a fight. After the establishment of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia he went into underground. He was a founding member of The Three Kings, one of the most active underground resistance groups.

Neither Czech nor any other resistance was supported by the communists from August 23, 1939 on. That day the pact of the two most terrible dictators in history has been signed by their foreign ministers Molotow and Ribbentropp. On the day Stalin with a toast praised Hitler in Moscow. Nazi Germany, which conquered Central Europe and unleashed a war of conquest in the West, received economic aid from the Soviet Union. As long as the pact was in effect, until June 22, 1941,basically no communist in Czechoslowakia moved a finger against Nazis. Through that time Josef Mašín was fighting. He was wounded and captured by the Gestapo May 13, 1941. In 1942 he was executed.

A few years later, Nazi terror was followed by communist terror. This was even more perfidious than the first and led to an almost complete resignation of the population. Immediately after the coup of February 25, 1948, the communists began a massive repression of their opponents. Many of these went into exile. Few of those who remained were able and willing to defend democracy with their lives.

The communists carried out the "class struggle" against large sections of the population. Farmers who wanted to remain independent declared them enemies. Driven by greed, envy and ideology, they tried to destroy all political resistance with malice, provocation and all violence. They practiced an almost hysterical clan-principle against the families of their adversaries armed with extreme hardness.

Among the few who took up arms to resist were members of the next Mašín generation. Joseph Mašín’s sons Ctirad (1930-2016) and Joseph Jr. (1930) were committed to their father's ideals. At the time of father’s execution by the Nazis Ctirad was less than 12 and at the time of the communist coup, not yet 18. Soon, both brothers became aware of people’s objections to the anti-democratic new rule. They believed many countrymen were ready to fight for freedom and they expected western powers were preparing to free Czechoslovakia from communism and the soviet imperial grip. With these expectations with friends they built a resistance group that became known as the Mašín Group. One of them was Václav Švéda (1921-1955), a resistance fighter par excellence:

Mugshots of Václav Švéda taken by Gestapo (Archive of Radslav Švéda). He was 19, when he tried to escape from the Protectorate to fight the Nazis and was arrested. After an escape he was captured in Switzerland and 1942 in Berlin sentenced to 15 years imprisonment. This ended after German capitulation. 

The group raided cash transports, police stations to get weapons and broke into a mine to get explosives. In several cases they killed the victims to avoid being identified. In fact, they were never caught. The core of the group planned to go into exile in the fall of 1951. They believed a new war would break out and in this they wanted to fight alongside the Americans against Communism. As a result of an intrigue, the Mašín brothers and their uncle fell into the hands of the secret police. They were interrogated and tortured for months, but the investigators had no idea what they could have been involved in. None of them disclosed and actually they should be released. Ctirad Mašín, then 22 years old, was sentenced  for 2 years in a penal labour camp on a fabricated charge. He was sent to mine uranium in a camp near Jáchymov.


The escape was postponed. The western border of Czechoslovakia, the Iron Curtain, became heavily guarded and the country resembled a huge extension of the soviet Gulag system. In the summer of 1953, Ctirad became free. The group undertook another major act of sabotage aimed at forced collectivization of agriculture. At the beginning of October 1953, five men armed with four pistols left for West Berlin via the GDR: The two Mašín  brothers were accompanied by Milan Paumer (1931-2010), Václav Švéda (1921-1955) and Zbyněk Janata (1933-1955).

Ten thousands people's police, VoPos, and Red army soldiers  were involved in the long pursuit of the five lightly dressed boys. In Uckro they shot themselves out of the grip, but Janata fell into the hands of the pursuers. Later Švéda was wounded and captured. After a month long hunt three members of the group reached Berlin-West. The alternative of freedom was death. 

Mugshots of Václav Švéda taken by the communist StB. (Archive ABS č. V-2452 MV, Prague) 

Václav Švéda was 32 when he fled Czechoslovakia. He was 34 when he was executed on May 2nd, 1955. The family did not receive his farewell letter while the communists were in power. The addressees were his wife Lída and their two small children. The wife brought a farm into the marriage. Four years later, in 1950, it was confiscated by the communists and in 1952 the family had to leave the farm. However, Lída lived with his parents for only a year with her husband and children. At the end of 1953 she was arrested along with her two brothers-in-law and her father-in-law. All four received prison sentences of around 20 years.

The essay Václav Švéda, the murdered idol by Jáchym Topol commemorates Václav Švéda and his family. Anyone who wants more than a glimpse of the effect of communist terror against their own population will not regret reading this strong text.

In 1955, along with the captive Zbyněk Janata and Václav Švéda, Ctibor Novák (1902-1955), an uncle of the Mašín brothers was executed. In the resistance against the Nazis, in September 1939, this man set off bombs in Berlin in front of the Aviation Ministry in Wilhelmstrasse/Leipziger Strasse and in front of the Police Presidency at Alexanderplatz. The bombs he brought in suitcases into the capital of the Nazi empire were provided by his brother-in-law Josef Mašín. Later he was seized, but not identified as the cause of the explosions. He was held in captivity till the end of the war. After the successful escape of Mašín brothers their uncle was accused of being the master mind of the group. The communists took his freedom and his life.

Novák's sister Zdena (1907-1956), the widow of Josef Mašín, and mother of the two Mašín boys and their younger sister Zdenka, was held in Nazi custody for six months in 1942. At the end of 1953 she was arrested by Czechoslovak communists and sentenced to 22 years in prison. She had one year more to live than her brother. She was subjected to severe torture through the investigation, then in the Pardubice penal and labor camp, while being seriously ill. After a transfer to a prison hospital she died in Prague.

The bodies of the executed Zbyněk Janata, Ctibor Novák and Václav Švéda were cremated, the urns with the ashes destroyed in Prague in 1961. Zdena Mašínová was burried in a mass grave in Prague's Ďáblice Cemetery. Recently, czech Prison Service Authority informed the public that the the destruction of the urns of the three along with those of 64 other political prisoners who were executed or died in prisons took place on the former gallows of the Pankrác prison. Also on the list is the name of Jaroslav Kysela, whose "crimes" were attempts to escape from the country and then from the uranium camp Jáchymov, whose 18 years life ended on gallows in Prague October 21, 1950. 

After the fall of the communist empire it took thirty years for Zdenka Mašín, the sister of Josef and late Ctirad,  to get back her parents' farm. It was nearly ruined under the communist rule, but deteriorated further all the time. The communism was gone, but the justice had not recovered fully yet. Zdenka Mašín dedicated the property to the Monument of the Three Resistances in Lošany (opened in 2022).

With our Maze-games for freedom we commemorate the anti-communist Third Czechoslovak Resistance and call for a support of political prisoners of present day dictators.


At present there are political prisoners in many countries still. This repugnant fact is what makes the cardandcube #3 maze games so topical. In many countries, sheer violence is still used against those who think differently. Many regimes have facilities similar to the penal camp system perfected in the Soviet Union in 1948. These gulags must be dismantled and the political prisoners must be freed!

Despots spread lies and disinformation in the free world. They declare members of the opposition to be terrorists. They are trying to cripple and destabilize our democratic systems. Together with you, we will frustrate these attempts if we succeed in convincing the majority of society that it is important and necessary to defend truth, tolerance and freedom, if we succeed in turning the young generation into democrats and defenders of the Do right to consolidate democracy.

With all freedom-loving people, we hope that today's defenders of democracy will not be forgotten, but will be supported by all of us to the best of our ability.


TNP labour camps (in Czech).

Anyone could be picked up and "disappear" in a labour camp for months or years. Below is shown the minutes of the meeting of the Security Commission "b5" in Brno, "The Party". At this meeting on March 25, 1950, party apparatchiks decided on 36 proposals for internment. In the list, 30 names were marked "approved to the proposal for an internment in a TNP camp" (Czech: "návrh do TNP schválen"). It was not necessary to log reasons. A judge's verdict was also unnecessary because the law of 1948 (Zákon 247/48 Sb.) provided for imprisonment from 3 to 24 months to avoid (!) crimes. (Source: National ArchivPrague, Fond KSČ). Penal labor camps including uranium mines in particular were reserved for those who received a judgment (in Czech).