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Jan Pospíšil
The main prisons and forced labour camps in communist Czechoslovakia
 
 
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Jan Pospíšil

Jan Pospíšil is the oldest of our narrators. Born in 1916 he witnessed most of the 20th century. Working for a non-communist minister brought him to prisons and the Jáchymov uranium grinder. He was sentenced to 20 years of political captivity.

Interview with Dr. Jan Pospíšil


"Work as well as only possible and do not believe in people who speak too much." ~
Jan Pospíšil

 
Interviewer: Tomáš Bouška
This interview's English translation has been gratefully edited by Ms.Olivia Webb.

 

Where were you born and what was your childhood like?

 I was born on the August 13, 1916 as the second son of the math and physics professor who taught at the first vocational secondary school in Brno.  I wasn't born in Brno, but in Černovice near Tábor, which was a small town in Central Bohemia.  During WWI, when I was three months old, I caught dysentery.  It even went so far that our family doctor said, "Mrs. Pospíšilová, this baby wasn't meant to live, be on the side."  He said that about me.  Today he would probably be amazed because the baby that didn't look like it would live is almost 92 years old.

 

 I spent the majority of my life in Brno.  I attended the fourth real school where I also graduated.  If I remember correctly, I wasn't one of the most obedient kids in school.  I was the head of the class who always got into trouble somehow.  I graduated in 1934 and 1935.  I graduated in both years because I wanted to go study law and had to practice Latin more.  That meant I had to wait, and after a year I had to take the special graduation exam in Latin.  I also wanted to improve my German, so I signed up for the German Technical School in Brno.  I also got my first lessons in politics there, because that place was a stronghold of Nazism.  What I remember was that there were three of us pure-blooded Czechs.  After passing Latin, I started at the Law faculty where I was studying law and doing sports.  I did rowing, athletics, hockey, and dancing (he laughs) I lived a happy life. 

 

Did you study law in Prague or Brno?

 I studied law in Brno because the faculty in Brno had a much better reputation then the one in Prague.  There was a Professor Vážný, who was the European authority in Roman Law.  Then there was Professor Weyr, who was an expert on constitutional law.  Also Professor Baxa taught there.  We had a really good array of professors, but there were also disadvantages to that; for example, when we went to our first state exams, out of eighteen students who entered the exams, there were three of us who passed.  I studied quite hard and passed the majority of exams with honors.  I finished the law faculty just in that unlucky year when they closed down all the universities[1] in the Czech Republic.  I was also hit by that, because just before I entered the graduation ceremony, and despite the fact that I had passed all my exams, the universities were still shut down.  So I was a lawyer without a graduation ceremony; that didn't matter though.  At first I got a job in the Pension Institute in Brno, where I stayed for about three months.  The Pension Institute was divided into Czech and German offices and the Czech one was down-sizing.  It was natural, there, for the last man who came to be the first to be let go.  So I started to visit various shops and workshops of radio businessmen.  I helped them to repair and fix radios, which other technicians didn't know how to do.  It was a good job, although it was dangerous.  Meanwhile, my brother who was a docent of math at the University in Brno, was locked up by the Gestapo.  He was locked up, sentenced, and died shortly after being released from prison. 

 

Why was your brother sentenced?

 He was sentenced for Hochverrat, which means high treason, because he was a member of a resistance group.  My uncle, Doctor Vilém Pospíšil, who was the ex-governor of the national bank, came to Brno for a visit.  He looked into what I was doing and he gave me recommendations for a job at the newly established labor office where I was supposed to specialize in different areas, but still things I should normally do.  Two months later, my uncle was visited in Brno by the Gestapo,  and after that visit he was found dead in his apartment. 

 

What year was that in?

 That was in 1941.  I was at the office working in the welfare department at the so-called Familienhilfe and the Sondenhilfe.  At these departments I stayed almost to the end – and in the last three months the Gestapo was interested in me, but it wasn't that hot because they had other work to do as well.  There were trenches all over Brno since it was in danger of a direct attack from the Russian Army.  The government-in-exile came back from London,[2] and they were going through Brno; and Dr. Stránský came back also.  He was teaching us criminal law at the law faculty.  Since he knew me and he knew I was interested in politics, he asked me to join his cabinet.  At first he was a Minister of Justice and then he went to the top level of government as a Deputy Chairman.  By that time I was interested in a real job, so I accepted his offer and started January 2, 1946 at the top level of government and got into his cabinet.  In his cabinet I was working on national economic policy and I was preparing a package of potential laws that were being considered at that time for Minister Stránský. I worked there until the elections in 1946.  After elections Minister Stránský switched to the Department of Education and I went there as his secretary.  I stayed at the Department of Education until that infamous February.  You can see well that I'm not any giant and I don't look like I would like to fight, but I was dragged outside by seven guys holding submachine guns. 

 

When did that happen?

 That was February 24, 1948.  I must have received a really bad record in the black list for the Communist party, because from that time on I was unemployed.  I have a package of applications where I was asking to be employed by various ministries and also the private sector, but I always got an answer saying, "The working class does not consider you as a reliable person."  In better cases they answered that the position has already been filled. But since I had a lot of time on my hands, I was able to do various things.  I was mainly interested in border crossing and the checkpoints, because Minister Stránský was getting ready to escape.  So I started organizing his escape and became really successful at this.  With Minister Stránský we said our goodbyes at the summerhouse, Hvězda, in July 1948.  There he got into a van as a worker and he crossed the border near Karlovy Vary the same day.  His family went to the West before he did. 

 

Could you remember anything in detail about the organization concerning the escape?  How did you prepare it?

 A custom officer named Snopek helped us during the escape.  Also, a businessman from Prague, who was selling carpets, was in the process.  His name was Losenický and he was able to go abroad to buy carpets.  He would get rides from Mr. Hons, who had a freight company.  Mr. Losenický escaped on time before Christmas before 1948 around Vimperk.  Hons was locked up because his own son reported him.  I was locked up much earlier.  The escape itself was talked over in 1954, although I was locked up January 12, 1949.  Hons was locked up in 1954.  I was sentenced on February 20, 1950 and in 1954 I was taken from my job site in Jáchymov to another round of trials in a so called JAV prison.  I even helped to build this interrogation prison since I was in a group that worked on building it. 

 

Did you lead people across the borders regularly?

 When I was unemployed, I would do this from time to time, and I helped a couple of people.  I was interested in the areas especially around Vimperk and Karlovy Vary.  

 

Why did you choose these two places?

 I chose Vimperk because I knew Šumava, and Karlovy Vary because I had a connection there through (XXX)[3]. But I will not speak about these things because I know Drtina made a big mistake when he spoke about the way he got out of the protectorate because after that, the only possible way of escape was closed.  I will not be running away, but I could close some else's way if I talk about it now. 

 

I understand. 

 At Vimperk it was good; there was a good organizational structure, but then the trap closed sometime around May 1949.  I found out that the guy named Hons, who helped us at Karlovy Vary, was probably cooperating with the secret police, though he didn't speak about everything – about all the cases.  I helped Doctor Rohlíček, the ex-secretary to the Minister. and I was getting ready to organize another escape across the borders for Mrs. Zemínová[4] and Mrs. Klemerová, but that didn't happen because I was locked up.  Before that I was trying to have some kind of employment, so I pretended to be employed by a builder named Jiříkovský in Prague.  Unfortunately, this guy was locked up based on the testimony provided by agent Anderle, and then because Jiříkovský provided testimony, I was locked up.  Finally, Jiříkovský didn’t testify against me at the court because he died in prison, but I got twenty years. 

 

What happened after you were arrested?

 When they locked me up, the head of the state secret police[5] Jindřich Veselý[6] was interested in my case.  They didn't do my hearing in Prague, but instead they took me to Olomouc.  I had a lot of friends in Prague and they were worried about that.  So then I was interrogated in Olomouc where Jindřich Veselý and another famous secret police person, Kamil Pixa[7], was there.  There they roughed me up.  I will tell you that was something.  I was in the cellar of a police department from where Pixa dragged me out of the room, took me upstairs to the first floor, blindfolded me, and took me out on the scaffolding around the building because they were remodeling the building.  They walked with me there and they took me back downstairs.  Then they put me in a car and drove me through a couple streets, my eyes being covered all the time.  Then we came back to the police department.  Although your eyes are blindfolded sometimes while in custody, you can get an idea of what is happening, so I knew we were back.  They started the hearing with me.  Jindřich Veselý said, "Doctor, have you ever been kicked by a horse?"  Then he punched me so hard that I had to go up about three meters high in the air.  After that, I don't know how, but they burned my palms.  My whole palms were burned except the place in the middle and all the burns turned to blisters.  I also had a cut on my cheek, which had already disappeared.  After sometime a bump appeared right behind my ear, which was full of blood and pus.  From that time onwards, I couldn't hear from that ear. 

 

How did the interrogations go?

 On February 17, 1949 I was picked up by Veselý and Pixa again in a big truck.  They covered my eyes with my red scarf and rode with me somewhere.  I have the scarf still today.  Pixa said, "You will have a red cold running out any ways, so that scarf will match."  We stopped somewhere by a roadside, there we stopped to urinate, and when I went Pixa fired off a whole round of bullets right next to my ear.  From that time on, when I wanted to urinate, I had a hard time getting started.  After sometime it got better.  Then we stopped somewhere and they took me out of the car.  I took my clothes off, eyes still closed, and they put me in between two big bars.  There I was left standing for a little while.  Then I was taken to a cell where there was nothing but a table and a chair.  They let me sit down naked on a chair and we started the interrogation.  I didn't know where all this happened until two years ago.  Then I found out that those were cells at Ruzyně.  There was twenty-four cells together, twelve upstairs and twelve downstairs.  You weren't allowed to say your name there, and you couldn't see anyone – not even the policeman or your guard.  He only said, “Open your window.”  and pushed your food inside with his foot.  Then I was taken to Bartomějská and from there to Pankrác[8].  I didn't have any records about the stay at Ruzyně in my papers.  It wasn't nice there.  I was right opposite the room where they held the interrogations and I heard all that.  That wasn't nice at all. 

 

Do you remember who you heard from that room?

 I remember an agent and a woman.  I didn't know the names though. 

 

So you were arrested at the beginning of 1949.

 Yes, I was arrested at midnight on January 12, 1949.  They came for me in my apartment and checked it out.  They sealed off my library.  My daughter who was seventeen months old tore down on all the seals the next day.  I didn't know that though; my wife told me that later.  From there I was taken to Bartolomějská and then to Olomouc. 

 

What exactly did they want to hear from you?

 Jiříkovský gave testimony that I was probably helping people across the borders, but he also talked about a radio station and since I had a close connection with the radios, because I was an amateur radio operator they were also interested in that as well. 

 

What was you political affiliation?

 I was a National Socialist, but I wasn't really active politically.  I was very busy as a general secretary. 

 

Did you confess to anything in Olomouc?

 No, they didn't even document it there.  It was just a beating session. 

 

Do you remember any names of people who beat you there?

 Yes, I remember a name from Olomouc.  He was a member of the state police, named Housírek, he was one of the men in charge there. 

 

I know that it's not easy to remember this, but could you describe in detail what they did to you during the hearing?

 During the hearing they were spinning me around.  That means that they punched me anywhere so that I would move away, but closer to another person.  Then they were also beating me with truncheons.  Note this: that the majority of "mukls"[9] are deaf in the left ear.  Why? Because they were always hit by the truncheon on the left ear because most of the policemen were right-handed.  Note that.

 

Who was the person who was making a case against you?

 In Ruzyně it was Pixa.  Then my trial was held July 1948, when they locked up Horáková[10] and would drag me out of my cell at midnight.  She was supposed to say that we had ridden the trams together once, and she would give me warnings that people had kept talking about me because I was the one who kept helping people across the border. 

 

What is true?  Did you know Mrs. Horáková?

 Of course I did – she was a member of congress, but that meant nothing.  I would still be in prison, even if she did know something on me.  She probably knew something on me from Zemínová.  This lady had her leg broken, and she was learning to walk again afterwards.  There was man named Kočí with whom I was preparing her escape. I don't know whether that was his real name.

 

Where was the file or case that they had built up against you?

 In Ruzyně.

 

When did the trial start?

 The trial was on February 22 and 24 in Prague.  The head judge was Dr. Rudý[11] and as a counsel for the prosecution, Dr. Brožová[12].  Dr. Rudý was trying really hard to get me in prison.  We started a quarrel a couple of times and with Mrs. Brožová as well.  I had my defense lawyer and he was a really nice man.  He informed me that Jiříkovský was dead.  So I could speak about everything.  So we all were arguing and according to the fact that I was resisting them the court was postponed until the 24th.  So I was sentenced two days later, but that didn't really matter. 

 

Were you alone in court? 

 Yes, alone. It was an individual court. 

 

What were you sentenced for then?

 At that time there didn't exist a written sentence, that means they wrote it down, but it stayed only in my records with no public notification.  The verdict came much later, after the hearing with Hons.  I got Paragraph 1, high treason, and Paragraph 5, espionage[13].  The other reason that I got sentenced was because I was a high state official.  I knew many people in the government since I had served as counselor.  They tried to prove that I played tennis with Major Krtek, who was the head of espionage of Czech Republic and then later of the whole of Europe.  They didn't like that I was also meeting diplomats from the West.  I got twenty years of prison.  The original suggestion was a rope, but that didn't happen. 

 

What ran through your mind when you heard the verdict?

 I thought I was being put in cold storage for a while, but all in all, I was quite calm. 

 

What happened after the trial and what did they do with you next?

 After this trial I was transferred to Bory prison[14].  There I was put in a cell called Waldes.  From there, I don't know why, but I was transferred to the book workshop after half a year.  That was wonderful.  We had our own stove there so we could warm up the place and we had our own little room there as well.  Three of us were state prisoners[15] and the rest were retribution prisoners[16].  The guards didn't order us around and we lived quite peacefully. 

 

Do you remember any important prison-mates from Bory?

 When I was in "B" I slept on one bed with a Mr. Podsedník, the ex-mayor of Brno.  Then there was also Dr. Cahín and two pilots, Mikš, who was also called Julíšek, and Nový.  Julíšek was shot and up until now he still has a bullet in his shoulder.  The guy named Nový crashed his plane and broke his leg.  So these two guys were pilots.  Then there was Cirda Musil, who used to represent the country in cross-country skiing and who I had met before when I went skiing in Vysočina.  This guy was later killed in Canada.  He escaped from Jihlava and he got abroad; from there he traveled to Canada, and there he was killed by his girlfriend's brother who was Yugoslavian. 

 

Do you remember Gusta Bubník?

 Yeah, I know him from Bory from number 12.  He was on 12, but he would go down underneath and I was just a worker upstairs or above the mines. 

 

Do you also remember Pravomil Reichl[17]?

 I know Pravomil Reichl very well because I was with him in the same cell.  I remember him once talking through the window with another soldier from the army and he was caught.  Brabec[18] beat him with a short whip and they sent him into solitary confinement.  Pravomil Reichl was missing a piece of muscle in his leg and he had been shot several times in the past in the Soviet prisons before he was jailed with us.  He was a good boy.  He slept in the corner of "B" in number 8. 

 

Where were you sent after a half year at Bory?

 From Bory I went to Jáchymov in "B" in the central camp.  Then I was sent to camp Mariánská[19] for about two months.  In fact, that was a camp for youth; then I went to camp 12.  I went back to Jáchymov in 1952 and I stayed there until the end.  Well, not actually until the real end, because in January of 1960 I was again taken to some hearing in Ruzyně.  Then I was released from Ruzyně in 1962, but I was forbidden to be in Prague, so for the whole day until 9 o'clock I was followed by a policeman.  I would tell him, “Just go home, this doesn't make any sense at all.”  “No, I have to stay with you.” I was walking with him all around Prague in Na Příkopě and I bought a kilogram (2.2 pounds) of nougat chocolate for my daughter.  I got home earlier then the boys from camp did.  My wife had a schoolmate whose husband was in the same camp that I was and his name was Razík.  He wrote in a letter that he would come home and my wife kept crying that I didn't write anything, but I came home earlier then he did. 

 

What kind of work did you do at Mariánská?

 At Mariánská I primarily worked as a bricklayer and digger, but mainly I was laying brick.  Finally I was even a boss of a little group where eight of us were lawyers and I was giving commands because I was the only one who knew how to do these things.  I am for example able to allocate and do similar tasks.  I knew how to work with dolomite and I had a soft pencil; so there were eight lawyers, one farmer from Košice, and another forester from Orava, both Slovaks.  So this was our little group.  They had plans and we would build.

 

What did you build?

 We built houses in housing developments.  At last it was a housing development in Příbram, the house of culture; then our group built a whole kindergarten, where there were special round columns made from concrete, and we did all that.  Our group did the whole building.  They would take us there from Camp Vojna[20].  It happened once, for example, that we were about to leave by bus and there was a women standing and waving on the road. The bus driver stopped and I found out it was my wife (laughing) and it took the commander of the escort from morning until 3 in the afternoon to figure out whose wife it was because there were five of us whose name was Pospíšil. So she was standing by the bus, waving to us. She was there with other wives like Mrazíková and Ploucková, who would run around these camps searching for us. 

 

How did they end up there?

 They got there somehow.  You know, you will not believe this, but when I was at Bory and there was stuff running out of my ear, my wife made such a commotion that the doctor, Bolský, who was at Bory as the main doctor, was able to make it so that I would be taken every day to the medical center for treatment.  She was not afraid and she insisted on things. 

 

What was your contact with your family like?  When did you see your daughter for the first time?

 In the beginning it was every half a year if they really let us have visits.  Then it was every quarter a year, but I'm not sure if we could really call them visits.  There was a glass, but no contact was possible.  At Bory I had a prison-mate, Mr. Spálenka, who was a member of the army guard who had been looking after President Beneš[21].  This man's wife was English, and a guy from the British Embassy came with her there came for visits.  He started such a commotion and we all lost our visitors because they canceled all of them.  I saw myself how Brabec hit the lady. 

 

For how long did you stay at Camp Marianská and what did you do there?

 At Mariánská I had very short stays, twice for two months I think.  The thing that happened was that the prison doctor at Bory put in my record that I was refusing his treatment and that I was faking an inflammation of my ear.  That was bullshit of course.  At Mariánská there was a German doctor, a very polite man, and this guy said, "What kind of bullshit is that?  How can you pretend to have inflammation?"  So they sent me to the hospital in Karlovy Vary.  There I stayed for a week.  During that time they brought my old acquaintance there, Dr. Pešek who used to be secretary to Mr. Nebesář, who was the head of the Czechoslovak National Bank.  These two guys were already in prison as well.  Pešek was being interrogated and they took him to the hospital because his heart was inflamed and he finally died there.  He recognized me, but I didn't recognize him, though, because he looked so much older.  He asked, "That's Dr. Pospíšil right?" and finally I asked, "And who are you?" He said Pešek.  Thanks to that I recognized that we already knew each other. 

 

Could you tell me anything about the legendary escape from Mine 12?[22]

 Well as for the escape from Number 12 that happened right on the second day I got there.  I was in block number 1 and there was one priest with me.  This priest was supposed to go on the shift with the same group that was planning to escape, but the group changed it so someone else could go with them.  Then, in the middle of the night, we were taken outside and forced to stand in a circle. Bodies of the dead boys were lying on the ground, and the commander was kicking into them and jumping around.  They took out two who were caught alive.  We could see they were really badly beaten.  They were supposed to walk around and point out those of us who knew about the escape.  These two were not really sane at that moment.  Anyways they walked around and took two boys from our group.  Later in the nineties, I got deeper into this case as a member of the UDV[23].  I found out that the whole thing happened completely differently and that the planned escape was known about beforehand.  The guard who was helping with the escape had been in prison before and they had a trial with him previously.  They called this guy Frenchie, because he was an ex-patriot from France.  So the guards knew about the escape in advance. 

 

Did Karel Kukal know about all this when he wrote his book about the escape[24]?

 He didn't, and neither did Štich.  That was interesting because Štich had been beaten so badly that he stopped speaking.  When he was in hospital a policeman was trying to find out whether he was pretending by burning his toes with a cigarette.  He started speaking much later and he is still alive.  He doesn't know about anything that happened there since he has a complete memory gap. 

 

What exactly did you do in Camp 12?

 I went to the housing development there and laid concrete.  Then I became unemployed because in 1953 they didn't have any other work for us. 

 

What did Camp L[25] look like when you got there?

 In L there was a great deal of starvation and hazing.  I saw there how they put a hat on Mr. Šlachtecký´s head and they tore off his shoulder patches.  It happened this way: a bus was sent there that had equipment for x-raying the lungs.  The night shift went to bed and shortly after that they were woken again to go get their x-rays.  Prisoners started getting really angry and they started fighting.  It ended up that someone put a hat on the commander’s head and tore off his shoulder patches and the dog handler was such an idiot that he brought his dog there.  So they brought the dog there and the dog bit the head commander in his ass...

 

Imagine that we got a box and it had 270 kilos (594 pounds) and it wasn't full yet.  It was pure uranium.  The worst thing was that in the Camp L the purest uranium ore was produced and the ventilation was directed straight to the camp.  Yet, before this there was no ventilation at all. 

 

Were you employed in the grinding department?

 Yes, I was at the grinding department 2[26]

 

How long did you stay in Camp L?

 I stayed a year and a half. I was at the grinding department and then I was transferred to the forced labour camp Bytíz by Příbram.  From there I had to go to court because I was called to give testimony on someone.  Finally, I said I didn't know the person.  He said he didn't know me either and in this way it was finished.  Then I asked the judge for my lost wages that day since I had to come and testify for a guy I didn't know.  I suggested that the policeman who called me to testify should pay for my lost wages.  The judge only laughed. What could they do to me, throw me in jail?  They could put me into solitary confinement, but that would be normal.  In camp L we went there on all national holidays regularly.  For example on May 1st they came for us with blankets and we knew what was coming up next. 

 

What was solitary confinement like? 

 The solitary cells were alright.  It used to be a pig sty.  Before it was placed in a cellar for potatoes or coal.  There was also a great deal of bullying when we were in solitary confinement.  There were thousands of barrels we were storing here and there for nothing.  A pile of sand was transported from here to there, back and forth.  In winter we had to take all the hot coals from the fire place at 6 o'clock in the evening.  There was no heat.  All these buildings in camp were standing on pylons, and most of them had special linings so the buildings wouldn't fall apart, but camp L was the only one where the lining was missing so under the floor you could hear the wind blowing.  There was no water and no showers.  Those were outside and in solitary confinement only cold water.  I remember Radim Kočan washing his face with coffee.  There was nothing else, there was simply nothing else!

 

Can you remember your prison number?

 017764 and then they changed it to 02008, but for the longest time I had the first one. 

 

What comes to mind when you hear the name Jáchymov today?

 Well you know I can't really say it nicely. 

 

In total, how many years did you stay in prison?

 Eleven years, four months, and couple days.

 

What was it like to return to civilian life?

 I was released on the basis of pardon.  My family was alright, but it was something like a whale of tears.  The landlord let me into the house and I rang the doorbell and I could hear how my daughter was running towards it.  She was thirteen years old.  My wife's schoolmate got a message that he was coming back, but my family didn't hear anything from me.  In spite of that, they expected me. 

 

How did you look for new employment?

 First I started as a bricklayer and carpenter in a company called Stavba (Construction).  They were bigger thieves than criminals because for all the work I did I earned about a thousand crowns a month.  These people were the bigger thieves.  We worked in small groups; the maximum number was seven people.  I was writing a building book for them and I could hear how a bricklayer said, "Hey, what are you doing?  How come you are writing a building book?  Doctors are supposed to do that."  Then the master builder said, "He's not supposed to do that. He was in prison."  I stayed in this company just for a while because fortunately my mother-in-law saw an announcement that Svazarm was opening a course for TV mechanics and so she said, "Please go there. You know how to do these things."  So I went and they told me, "Well the course is running. Go and ask if they will accept you."  So I went, and this teacher Kůra was like, "But the course is already running and it wouldn't be anything for you man."  We talked it over there and he said finally, "You know how to do all this. You know what? In two weeks there are the exams for new TV mechanics and technicians and I will sign you in.  If you do the exam well I will give you a job; if not, you can try again next year."  I passed with an A and I started working as a TV mechanic.  If you remember I was studying at the German technical school, but I never talked about it much.  For twenty years I would work as a TV repairman (laughing).

 

Did you go back to the law?

 Yes, I did.  I worked for the Counsel for Crimes of Communism, Documentation, and Investigation in the 1990's. 

 

What long-term effects did prison life have on your health?

 Well the ear is the first thing.  I'm deaf as a post in that ear and I think that I had a problem with my colon and problems with my blood because of prison life.  In January 2008 I had an operation where they took about 20 centimeters out of my colon because I was bleeding into my intestines.  I also have a medical statement that I have only 2,700,000 red blood cells and in 1959 I had 3,300,000, but a man is supposed to have about 5,000,000.  I had problems with hemoglobin.  All the problems I've had are a result of the radioactivity. 

 

When you look at your life and what you went through, is there anything you would want to say to young people?

 I would only want to tell them to work as well as possible and to not believe in people who speak too much.  They should always look to see if one is doing what he says.  People today talk too much. 

 

Thank you for the interview. 

 



[1] International Students Day – On the occasion of the funeral of Jan Opletal, a student who died after Nazi occupation power’s harsh repression of student demonstrators, another demonstration was held on November 15th, 1939 – the last demonstration protesting the Germen Nazi occupation on Czech and Moravian land. On November 17th, Hitler gave out the command that all demonstrations will be strictly punished with the army power. The Czech universities and colleges were closed down, the main representatives of university students were locked up and executed, and 1,200 Czech students were beaten and dragged to the concentration camps. To commemorate these deaths, November 17th was established as International Students Day in London on November 17, 1941.

[2] Government in Exile – established in July 9th by the Czechoslovakian National Commission.

[3] The narrator intentionally chose to keep the name anonymous.

[4] Františka Zemínová – (1882-1962) a Czech politician, long-time member of the National Socialist Party and one of the victims of the show trials along with Dr. Milada Horáková. She was sentenced for 20 years in prison.

[5] State Secret Police (StB) – a political police force in Czechoslovakia during the communist era.

[6] Jindřich Veselý – (1906 - 1964) the Central Secretary of the Czech Communist Party from 1933 onward. From 1939 to 1945 he was in a concentration camp at Buchenwald, and in October 1945 he was inducted as a member of the Inspectorate of National Secret Security Police, and later became a main commander of State Secret Police from 1948-1950. On March 5th, 1950 he tried to commit suicide for the first time. After he was recalled from his post as the Director of Institution of Socialist History on March 19th (20th) 1964 his second suicide attempt ended in death.

[7] Kamil Pixa – one of the founders of the Communist State Secret Police who in 1951 he became a representative of the 1st sector of The Head Government of State police.

[8] Bartolomějská, Ruzyně and Pankrác are police interrogation stations and prisons in Prague.

[9] Mukl – someone who was in “political” prison, the word "mukl" itself comes from the abbreviation of - "a man on death row" (in Czech: muž určený k likvidaci).

[10] JUDr. Milada Horáková –  was a Czech politician executed during the communist political trialsin the fifties for putative conspiracy and high treason.

[11] JUDr. Vojtěch Rudý – this individual participated in many sentences during the political court trials, including the trials with Milada Horáková.

[12] Ludmila Brožová-Polednová – the ex-communist counsel for the prosecution is especially infamous for the trial that resulted in the execution of politician Milada Horáková. In 2008 she was sentenced for an 8-year imprisonment. At the time of this book being written is not clear yet whether she will start the sentence.

[13] The Law 231/48 Sb. – the clause by which most of the political prisoners in Czechoslovakia were sentenced in a massive way.

[14] Plzeň–Bory Prison – a facility situated in western Bohemia. During the communist era it was one of the strictest prisons used mainly for political prisoners.

[15] State prisoners – political prisoners sentenced by the State court.

[16] Retribution prisoners – prisoners sentenced on the basis of „retribution decrees" for cooperation and collaboration with Nazi Germany. "Political" prisoners were classified as identical to "state" prisoners, although there was a separate category for criminals.

[17] Pravomil Reichl was the legendary officer of the Czechoslovakian army who went through the Gulag (a work camp in U.S.S.R.), fights at Dukla, and brain death. He went through the political trials and prisons in Czechoslovakia, escaped from Leopoldov, emigrated and lived to see the democratic Czech Republic.

[18] Brabec – a gaurd especially known for his brutality towards prisoners.

[19] Mariánská – one of the forced labor camps at the area of Jáchymov district.

[20] Vojna – a prison originally used 1947-1949 for German prisoners of war, it was later turned into a working camp from 1949-1951 and finally a camp for political prisoners of the communist regime from 1951 to 1961.

[21] Edvard Beneš – Edvard Beneš was the second president after T.G. Masaryk from 1935 to 1938. He was also a President in Exile from 1940-1945 and the President of Czechoslovakia after World War II (1945- 1948). Together with T.G. Masaryk and M. R. Štefánik, he took part in the resistance movement during WW I and is one of the founders of Czechoslovakia.

[22] Mine Twelve Escape – a prisoner escape attempt which happened at night from October 14th to 15th 1951. Eleven prisoners escaped from the shaft no. 14 in camp 12 from the Jáchymov uranium mines.  The group was unsuccessful, however, and on the next day the majority of the escaped prisoners were caught and shot. Out of eleven only Karel Kukaland and Zdeněk Štich survived. The rest were either killed or sentenced for life. The memories on this escape are described by Karel Kukal in his book Ten Crosses. (see footnote 24)

[23] Council for Crimes of Communism, Documentation, and Investigation (ÚDV) – a committee established in the early 1990s after the fall of Communism

[24] KUKAL, Karel: Deset křížů. (Ten crosses). Second, enlarged edition. Rychnov nad Kněžnou: Ježek, 2003. 127 p. (see footnote 22)

[25] Camp L – sometimes called also a camp for liquidation. There was „a tower of death" where the prisoners were getting into direct contact with radioactive uranium.

[26] Grinding department – the department within the Jáchymov mining district where the uranium ore was ground into a soft powder.

 

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