Beginnings of colonization of foothills
Krkonoše had been for a long time the region that was at the edge of colonization efforts. Krkonoše as well as the area of very close foothills are nearly with its landscape archeologically sterile. This situation lasted until medieval time when deep forests on borderland covered mountains including vast area up to ridges Zvičiny, Kumburk, Tábor and Kozákov.
The first inhabitants started to settle in border forests infiltrated with river floodplains along state`s paths. There are supposed to be two state`s paths in our region and these were less important branches of route over Náchod to Kladsko and Slezsko(Siletia). One of them led over Mostek along valley of the river Labe to Chotěvice, Pilníkov, Vlčice, Horní Staré Město and over Žacléřský výběžek(hook) and Libavské sedlo (saddle) to Slezsko.
The second one led directly over ridge from today`s Vrchlabí along „kamenná cesta(rock path)“ on Strážná over Výrovka to Blue saddle between Luční and Studniční mountain and to today`s Luční bouda(chalet) over Bílá louka(meadow) to Jeleniohorská kotlina(fold).
It is said that Polish raid of Boleslav Křivoústý to Bohemia in 1110, decribed by a chronicler Kosma and Polish Galle Anonym, evidently went on one of these paths.
It is neccessary to count on the first stronger colonization wave to foothills, that was certainly Slavonic, before the middle of 13th century. But ridges of mountains were probably desert. It is neccessary to consider local legends about beginnings of local villages in Trutnov,set to the beginning of last millenium, written by Trutnov`s chronicler Simon Huttle ,as rather problematic. They reflect later situation in the middle of 13th century. So called autochthonous thesis by some German scientists is not supported by any local archeological materials. It conludes that when Slavonics were passing into the heart of Bohemia with remainders of German inhabitants from inland in 5th and 6th century they settled in mountain valleys in Krkonoše so Sudet Germans are direct offspring of Markomani. It is based on a wobbly thesis that some geographical names have „pregerman“ origin, e.g. Úpa, Metuje and so on.
Mostly German inhabitants, but not only them, composed the second colonization wave in foothills on upper Úpa and Labe in the second half of 13th century. It happened later then in near-by Siletia where were better conditions. Large amount of agricultural settlements were estabilished as well as market and manufacture centres of city type with wall such as Trutnov (in 1260), Hostinné ( in about 1270). The first groundworks for human penetration on Krkonoše ridges were created.
The mountains offer treasures
Original spruce-fir primeval forest and vast growth of scrubs certainly impeded access to the mountains for a long time. If army of Boleslav Křivoústý went directly over ridge , the description of raid gives evidence about it, or even if they took different way, the king deserves the name Polish Hannibal. The first people, excluding lonely hunters, who were passing into Krkonoše nature, were the ones searching for gold, silver, precious stones and ore deposits. Miners from Krkonoše are reminded on side of Siletian nobility in the unsuccessful battle against Tartars on Lehnické pole(field) in 1241. But it rather referred to metal miners from Siletian side of Krkonoše, especially from the surroundings of Kowar
In 14th and 15th century foreigners who speak different language from local inhabitants in foothills were doing there prospector activities. They are called Wallen – Vlaši. They left there fantastic written records of routes leading to deposits of “treasures” called Wallenbucher and on some places there are mysterious marks for orientation ingraved into rocks, they are mainly on the north side of Krkonoše. At the beginning of 16th century (in 1511) miners from Míšeň came to Trutnov and after unsuccessful mining in surrounding of the town they moved to Obří důl(mine) under Sněžka. In that time it was also mined in the central part of Krkonoše in upper part of the river Labe where in Dlouhý důl between Kozí hřbety and under hillside of Stoh a mining settlement Svatý Petr exists (now it is a part of Špindlerův Mlýn) and in Rýchory.
Count’s war and fixing of estates`and country’s borders
During 30-year war the country was divided between new nobility owners from foreign catholic nobility. West Krkonoše and Jilemnicko-branské estate after the count Harant from Polže and Bezdružice was gained by Harrachové.The river Labe was a separator between this estate and estate of Vrchlabí that occupied central part of Krkonoše. It was given to the count J. R. Morzin as a present from the emperor for his army service. East Krkonoše, originally royal property with a centre in Maršov, was gained by Jan Jakub de Waggi and after him other noble lines were changing there.
It was becoming really necessary to firmly state borders between them, because until that time the border had been only approximate and demarcation did not have a sense in deserted area. Then new conflicts have appeared . Firstly there were fights among forest staff, then stealing of livestock and other even violence. Problems between estate Branná and Vrchlabí were solved by agreement in 1690.
It was more difficult to do demarcation between estate of Silesian magnates called Schaffgotschové and Czech owners. The first ones set up a claim on whole border ridge up to upper part of the rivers Labe and Bílé Labe to their valleys including the area of their sources. They demanded the border along river. In 1710 it was decided in a law-court that the border between Czech estates and the estate Chojnik (Kynast) will lead over border ridge so there where is state border nowadays.
We also cannot forget about two events that played its role in fixing state borders on ridges of Krkonoše. Even though they externally looked like they had religious vein concerning victory of Catholicism their main importance was in lawful, political and property sphere. The chapel on Sněžka, built between 1665-81 with big problems, became the target for religious pilgrims from both sides of Krkonoše as well as clear demarcation of dominion of freshman catholic Kryštof from Schaffgotschové who wanted to retain property after his father Jan who was not catholic and took part in Valdštejn’s plot against the emperor and was executed for it in Řezno. From the other side of Bohemia came up an initiative from Morzinové from Vrchlabí with presence of Branská nobility. In 1684 a bishop Jan from Tallemberg canonized the source of Labe after his problematic trip there and so it was definitely showed that area of Labská louka(meadow) belongs to east bohemian church metropolis and so to Bohemia not to Silesia.
The first republic and World War II.
The establishment of Czechoslovak republic in 1918 after disintegration of Austro-Hungarian monarchy of Habsburkové was accepted by most of German inhabitants in Krkonoše very unwillingly but they adapted to new situation very quickly.In the second half of 1920s in time of industrial boom a lot of mountain chalets were rebuilt into comfortable hotels, capable of providing all year tourist-ski facilities. Czech business started to appear on ridges together with German businessmen.
The family Hlouškova lived and worked on Labská bouda(chalet) and his brother-in-law Herčík who came back from Czechoslovak legions stayed on Vosecká bouda and later in Harrachov. The union of Czechoslovak officers built Havlova bouda on Výrovka. After building the first cableway in Krkonoše from Janovské lázně to Černá hora in 1928 in that time modern Sokolovská bouda and Horský hotel were built on top meadow settlement Volské boudy. Špindlerův Mlýn became a mountain centre on the level of international mountain centre because of broad development with credit to a local doctor and after the war long-term mayor Dr. Wilhelm Pick. This promising development was stopped by industrial crisis at the beginning of 1930s. After accession of fascism in Germany in 1933 most of Germans not only living in Krkonoše but somewhere else on the border supported with their votes in elections in 1935 Henlein Sudetendeutsche Partei(party) that went towards separation of borderland followed by liquidation of Czechoslovakia with their activity.
Our government started to defence the country by building line of border fortresses, Masaryk’s mountain road over Mísečky to Krkonoše was also a part of it. Iron-concrete little fortresses created continual defence line on inland Czech ridge that was occupied by Czechoslovak army forces in 1938 during mobilization.
In that time Luční and Rennerova bouda burnt down after leaving it by German staff. Mnichov’s dictation meant giving up borderland of republic to Hitler without fight. Even clearly Czech villages in the former county of Jilemnice such as Víchovská Lhota, Křižlice, Roudnice, Jestřábí and so on appeared within area of borderland. During World war II. Most of hotels, pensions and mountain chalets in Krkonoše were filled with evacuee people from bombed German towns, convalescent soldiers of wehrmacht injured on front.
Some buildings were used as training centres of German army such as polar station Jestřábí boudy, Luční bouda, Sněžka or Černá hora. Loajality of German inhabitants was used by offices. The third empire placed a few birdcages for Soviet and allied soldiers, e.g. in Vrchlabí, Bedřichov and Špindlerovka who suffered from rough climate, hard work and bad food. For most of big factories in foothills were established branches of well-known concentration camp Gross-Rosen in Silesia (Vrchlabsko, Trutnovsko).
Czech patriots mainly from west part of Krkonoše illegally organized protection against fascism and were in tough with individuals who belonged to German anti-fascists. Their activity was suppressed very hard by Gestapo(secret German police). Before ending of the war guerrilla Nikolaj was operating in foothills and airdrop of parachutes (five Soviet and five Czech) was shed in Kalensko on 27 March 1945. Red army crossed Krkonoše on several places on 9 May 1945 (Špindlerovka, Královec, Harrachov).