A sneak preview at the foundry at Horní Kalná where the Winged Lion Memorial is being cast.
A sneak preview at the foundry at Horní Kalná where the Winged Lion Memorial is being cast.
On on 10 May 2014, to commemorate the 3rd anniversary of the opening of the European Military Rehabilitation Centre and Air Marshall Karel Janoušek Museum, an open day was held at the Cyriaci Movement headquarters at Jemnice.
More information on the Cyriaci Movement here
Život příslušníka RAF v době komunismu
Major General Alois Šiška, my late father, would have celebrated his hundredth birthday on 15th May 2014. His wartime story is well known because of Wellington KX-B North Sea crash-landing following the bombing raid on Wilhelmshaven on 28 December 1941, however, his post-ww2 life has not had the same coverage.
Můj tata, geerálmajor Alois Šiška by 15. května tohoto roku slavil sté narozeniny. Jeho válečný příběh je zdokumentován díky nouzovému přistání Wellingtonu KX-B na zpátečním letu z náletu na přístav Wilhemshaven 28. Prosince 1941. Jeho poválečný život je už méně známý.
Following the Communist coup d’état in February 1948 nearly all Czechoslovaks who had served in the RAF during WW2 were subjected to Communist persecution; usually being thrown-out of the Czechoslovak Air Force, demoted in rank, stripped of their Czechoslovak medals and only permitted to do menial work. For many the persecution would continue with being arrested, tried, and sentenced to several years of imprisonment either in hard labour prisons or in the uranium mines. Some were to die during this time, either through resisting arrest from the StB – Státní bezpečnost – the State Secret Police – or because of the harsh treatment they received whilst serving their sentences. Whilst large numbers of the former Czechoslovak RAF personnel managed to escape to the West to flee from this persecution, many did not. My father was amongst those who decided to stay for family reasons, but the persecution he suffered had a direct impact on our family life. This is our story of those times…..
Po únorovém převratu v roce 1948 nastala perzekuce téměř všech bývalých západních letců; byli propouštěni z letectva, degradováni, byly jim odebrány medaile a mohli pracovat pouze v podřadných zaměstnáních. Mnozí byli zatčeni, souzeni a tresty museli odsloužit v káznicích či uranových dolech. Někteří zaplatili svými životy, bud v průběhu zatýkání Státní bezpečností nebo na následky hrubého zacházení v průběhu věznění. Řadě z nich se podařilo před tímto osudem utéci, ale mnozí zůstali. Můj tata byl jedním z těch, kteří zůstali z rodinných důvodů. Perzekuce, kterou utrpěl však měla dopad na rodinný život. Toto je příběh naší rodiny z této doby….
The rollercoaster started after the political coupe in February 1948 with repeated arrests and finally dismissal from the Czechoslovak Air Force with a minimum pension.
Po Únoru 1948 se rozjel kolotoč počínaje opakovaným zatčením a propuštěním z Československého letectva s minimálním důchodem.
Expulsion from Prague followed in November 1950. Even that wasn’t straightforward. During the fairly heated exchange at the Prague garrison HQ, Dad was told that for the likes of him and his family, only places like the regained Sudetenland in the north of the country were good enough. Only thanks to effort of a lower rank young officer – perhaps he took pity on Dad hobbling on his crutches – our family ended in the small village of Dušníky nad Vltavou, north of Prague. At least we fulfilled one necessary requirement – living more than 30 km from Prague.
Následovalo vystěhování z Prahy v listopadu 1950. Ani to se neobešlo bez dramatu. Po poněkud bouřlivé výměněn názorů na Posádkovém velitelství Praha, kde tatu upozornili, že pro takové jako on a jeho rodina bylo pouze Hřensko dobré, se díky osobnímu úsilí nižšího důstojníka – asi se nad tatou o berlích slitoval – rodina ocitla v malé vesničce Dušníky nad Vltavou, severně od Prahy. I tak jsme splnili jednu z podmínek abychom byli minimálně 30km od Prahy.
This little village with no more than 27 houses (ours was no. 27) nestled amongst the hop fields near the river Vltava and had no public transport. Undaunted, and with a lot of family help, Dad built our first car from the wreck of a Hansa Lloyd.
V roce 1950 tam byly 4 statky a hrstka rodinných domků. Čp. 27 bylo původně letní sídlo rodiny Schusterů kterým patřila pozdější FRUTA Vojkovice. Byla tam také hospoda U Vitochů. Služby postávaly z místního konzumu sestávajícího se z jedné místnosti a samozřejmě všudypřítomného MNV.
Back in 1950 the village boasted four farms and a few houses. House no. 27 was originally built as a summer retreat for the Schuster family, who owned a food packaging factory. There was also a pub “U Vitochů”. Services comprised of a one room grocery shop and the ever-present local council office to administer the new government’s political aims.
V roce 1950 tam byly 4 statky a hrstka rodinných domků. Čp. 27 bylo původně letní sídlo rodiny Schusterů kterým patřila pozdější FRUTA Vojkovice. Byla tam také hospoda U Vitochů. Služby postávaly z místního konzumu sestávajícího se z jedné místnosti a samozřejmě všudypřítomného MNV.
Our arrival was received with mixed reactions. At the beginning everything was fine. We were treated as any newcomers would. Problems started after the visit of a certain Major Brůža from theregional military office in nearby Kralupy nad Vltavou. Part of his job remit was to visit all meetings of the local Communist Party groups. He arrived in Dusniky and, according to witnesses, the following exchange took place:
Reakce místních na náš příjezd byly různé. Na začátku stejné jako u všech nově přibylých. Vzali nás na vědomí bez problémů. Ty nastaly až po návštěvě jistého majora Brůži z Okresní vojenské správy v Kralupech nad Vltavou. V jeho popisu práce byla také účast na schůzích místních výborů KSČ. I dostavil se do Dušník. Podle svědků došlo k následující výměně otázek:
“What news have you got for me?”
„Tak co tady máte nového?“
“I don’t think so! You have got a member of the RAF and the widow of a capitalist officer**”
„Tak to teda ne. Máte tady příslušníka západního letectva a vdovu** po kapitalistickém důstojníkovi.“
That did it.
A bylo to.
People started avoiding us unless, of course, they needed something. Then they would knock on the side door under the cover of darkness.
Lidé se nám začali vyhýbat. Když ale něco potřebovali, tak k nám chodili za tmy a k zadním vrátkům aby je nikdo neviděl.
I was born into this charged atmosphere in October 1952. Even as a little girl I remember scenes in the local grocery shop. As soon as Mum & I walked in, other customers promptly left. Only the shopkeeper stayed, she had no choice as she needed our custom.
Do této atmosféry jsem v říjnu 1952 přišla na svět já. Jako malá si pamatuji situace v místním Konzumu. Jakmile jsme vstoupily s mamkou dovnitř, všichni ostatní kupující odešli. Prodavačka ovšem nemohla, náš nákup potřebovala.
** This widow was my Grandmother Vlasta Procházková whose husband, brigadiergeneral Jan Procházka, died on the 18th December 1948 in the Military hospital in Střešovice part of Prague while already under arrest by the StB.
** Tou vdovou byla moje babička Vlasta Procházková jejíž manžel, brigádní generál Jan Procházka zemřel ve Vojenské nemocnici ve Střesovicích 18. prosince 1948. V té době byl už pod zatčením Státní bezpečností.
The StB were everywhere. They watched us day and night, monitoring every sound from our house. Even the sound of flushing water was enough for them to suspect that we were engaged in the printing of clandestine leaflets. The homemade air compressor (used mainly for pumping up car tyres) was immediately interpreted as us having an illegal radio transmitter. A transmitter was eventually found in the chimney of Spolana Neratovice factory, some 15 miles away, but it made no difference to them.
Celou situaci umocnovala všudypřítomná Státní bezpečnost. Hlídali nás ve dne, v noci, zaměřovali dům. I pouhý zvuk splachování toalety byl pro ně dostatečným důvodem, aby nás podezřívali z tisknutí protistátních letáků. Tatův na koleně udělaný kompresor byla podle nich zapnutá protistátní vysílačka. Tu sice nakonec našli v komíně Spolany Neratovice, vzdálené dobrých 25km, ale to jim jaksi nevadilo.
Somehow we had to survive.
Nějak jsme se museli uživit.
Dad was not allowed to hold any jobs, not even at the local co-operative farm (Czechoslovak state farm enterprise). The only wage-earner was Mum. As ‚politically unreliable‘ she was expelled from university in 1949, and was given no choice but to work in the aforementioned co-operative farm as a junior accounts clerk in nearby Všestudy. Dad took care of the house and garden within the constraints of his disabilities and Granny looked after the household. That also meant careful food preparation, as Dad suffered serious digestive problems as the result of his PoW imprisonment during the war.
Tata nesměl být zpočátku zaměstnán ani u ČSSS (Československé státní statky). Jedinným výdělečně činným členem domácnosti a živitelem rodiny se tak stala mamka. Jako politicky nezpůsobilá (byla vyloučena z Vysoké školy v roce 1949) a s výběrem zaměstnavatele v počtu jeden – již výše zmínění Státní Statky, nastoupila jako mzdová účetní na statku ve Všestudech. Tata se staral o údržbu domu a zahrady v rámci jeho invalididy a babička převzala starost o domácnost. Ta kromě normálních domácích úkolů rovněž zahrnovala vaření dietní stravy pro tatu který v té době měl značné problémy s válkou narušeným trávením.
Mum was entitled to statutory maternity leave after my birth, which had a negative impact on the family finances. To top it all we did not have a washing machine. Purchase of the newly introduced machines was well above our means. We simply did neither qualify nor had sufficient financial means. Dad decided to build one himself. The outer casing was made of wood, a metal tub was made to his specifications, the rotator being the only missing part. From the local scrap merchant he purchased a couple of discarded aluminium pistons, which a helpful blacksmith in the neighbouring village melted down so that Dad, as a qualified turner from his pre-ww2 employment at Baťa, could make into the rotator. He purchased an electric motor and hand-spinner and we had a washing machine. Luckily he had proof of purchase for the restricted aluminium material, because our joy was shortlived. A few days later on his return home he found Mum in floods of tears.
Po mém narození byla mamka zákonně na mateřské dovolené což ovšem zasáhlo finanční rozpočet. Navíc jsme neměli pračku. Na koupi jedné z nově se objevujících vířivek nebylo ani pomyšlení. Neměli jsme ani nárok ani potřebné peníze. Tak se tata rozhodl že ji vyrobí sám. Skřín na ni vyrobil ze dřeva, plechovou vaničku si nechal vyrobit na potvrzení, ale potřeboval vrtulku. Vyřazené hliníkové písty z auta roztavil kovář ve vedlejší vesnici a tata coby už z před války vyučený soutružník u Bati, si ostatní dodělal sám. Koupil eletrický motor a ruční ždímačku a byla pračka. Radost však dlouho netrvala. Jednoho dne po návratu domů našel mamku uplakanou.
“The StB turned up and they want to confiscate our washing machine. You are required to turn up in their office in Kralupy tomorrow.”
„Byli tady od Státní bezpečnosti a chtějí nám zabavit pračku. Máš se hned zítra dostavit k nim do Kralup.“
The next morning Dad gathered all relevant documentation and off he went. Two very young StB men ushered him into an office and began:
Druhý den ráno tata sebral všechny doklady a jel. Přijali jej dva mladíci a hned zpustili:
“Where did you get that washing machine from?”
„Kde jste přišel k té pračce?“
“I built it myself.”
„Udělal jsem si ji sám.“
“Where did you get the aluminium from? That is a restricted metal.”
„Ale kde jste vzal hliník. To je obhospodařovaná surovina.“
“I used old car pistons.”
„Použil jsem staré písty z auta.“
“You were required by law to hand them over to the scrap merchant“ uttered one of the two youngsters.”
„Ty jste měl ale odevzdat do sběru.“ Opáčil jeden z mladíků.
“That may be so, except that I bought them from a scrap merchant in the first place and what I do with them after that is entirely my business. I could have cooked them in butter if I wanted.”
„No jo, ale já jsem je ve sběru koupil už napoprvé a na co je použiji, to je moje soukromá záležitost. Klidně jsme si je mohl udělat na másle.“
“That’s up to us to decide” retorted the older of the two men.
„Od toho jsme tady my abychom rozhodli.“ Uzavřel výslech ten trochu starší.
We kept the washing machine.
Pračka nám zůstala.
During the first half of the 1950‘s, agriculture went through a process of the requsitioning of all agricultural machinery and tools from the newly nationalised farms. Suddenly Dad had a job because we had a car and so he was needed. Together with Mum they travelled from farm to farm and completed long lists. They completed their given task before the deadline and even received a thank you and a small financial reward. But the next blow was only round the corner.
V první polovině 50. let se prováděla inventarizace hospodářských strojů a nářadí. Najednou jsem měl i tata práci. Měli jsme přece auto a tak byl potřebný. Objížděli s mamkou farmy a sepisovali. Dokončili vše ještě před termínem a tak dostali pochvalu a i malou odměnu. Další rána na sebe ale nedala dlouho čekat.
The farm employed a new Head of the Personnel department. According to the old saying about the new broom sweeping well, she wanted to make her mark. As soon as she found out that the farm employed an ex-RAF and his wife who, to top it all, is known to support a “capitalist” Canadian ice hockey team, she sacked both on the spot. She did not even bother telling them to their faces; the director’s driver called on us later the same night with the message that they were not to come to work the next morning.
Na statek přišla nová kádrovačka. Coby nové koště se chtěla uvést a jakmila zjistila že tam pracuje bývalý „západák“ i s manželkou, která navíc fandí kanadským hokejistům, propustili oba rodiče na hodinu. Ani se jim to neobtěžovala říct osobně. Pozdě večer zastavil u nás doma ředitelův řidič s tím, at naši do práce druhý den už nechodí.
For Dad that was one step too far. He went to see the director the next day and, with the new Head of Personnel present, and had it out with him. He was not allowed to return to work though Mum was reinstated, but only as an auxilliary clerk and on a distant farm in Velvary. The distance produced another challenge. She started work at six in the morning, which meant she had to get up at half past three. She had to walk to the ferryman to get across the Vltava river, climb up the steep bank and catch the train at the whistle-stop nearby. After a long day at work, she had to repeat the journey to get home. Dad took care of me instead. The family income was severely reduced. Dad needed to find something to compensate for it, and luck was on his side.
To bylo na tatu moc. Druhý den jel za ředitelem a za přítomnosti zmíněné kádrovačky si to s ním vyříkal. Jeho zpátky nepřijali ale mamka mohla znovu nastoupit, ovšem pouze jako pomocná účetní a navíc na statku ve Velvarech. Dojíždět do Velvar nebyla legrace. Začínala pracovat v šest hodin ráno a tak vstávala o půl čtvrté. Pěšky k místnímu převozu přes Vltavu, vyškrábat se po strmém břehu k železnici a ze zastávky vlakem do Velvar. Domů si to zopakovala. Tata převzal její úlohu starat se o mne. Ale po snížení výdělku potřeboval najít něco čím by přispěl do rodinného rozpočtu. Náhoda sehrála svou roli.
The director of the Veltrusy farm was an avid football fan. He was watching a game on his TV one evening when it packed up. He rang the repair shop in Senovážná Street in Prague, which was the nearest repair place. They had an engineer but he did not have a car. The director did not waste any time. He rushed to Dad and asked him to go and get the engineer. Dad was well received at the repair shop and was immediately asked whether he would be prepared to drive the said engineer to a few more repair calls in our area. They would remunerate him accordingly. Dad sensed an opportunity. He accepted but with the proviso that, whilst with the engineer, he would be allowed to learn how to do the repairs himself. Dad found the necessary manuals and basic tools and started to learn. As the faults were quite frequent he soon got the hang of it, so much so that after a short time he became an accredited repair engineer and was based in Kralupy.
Vedoucí Státného statku Veltrusy byl fotbalový fanoušek. Sledoval jednou fotbal a televize zhasla. Volal do Prahy kde v Senovážné ulici byla naše nejbližší opravna. Opravář by byl. Ale nemá auto. Vedoucí nemeškal. Doběhl k nám a požádal tatu, aby dojel pro opraváře. V Senovážné tatu uvítali a hned po něm chtěli zda by nemohl s tím opravářem objet ještě několik dalších zákazníků na Kralupsku. Pochopitelně za úhradu podle platných předpisů. Tata vycítil další příležitost. Dohodl se s nimi že opraváře bude vozit ale že se při tom také zaškolí sám. Sehnal si potřebné příručky a měřicí přístroje a začal se učit opravářem televizí. Jelikož poruchy byly v té době časté, brzy se to naučil. Po čase se stal opravářem podniku místního hospodářství Okresního národního výboru v Kralupech.
1954 was the election year. The pre-election period was busy even in Dušníky, the smallest village in the Central Bohemian Region. According to the rules, the governing body prepared the list of suitable candidates which had to be approved by the local Communist Party group. The order in which this was done did not really matter as the same people sat on both committees. The disagreement in both committees was so big that Dušníky submitted their list of candidates last. Why? Because according to the said rules the list should contain two new candidates who also should not to be Communist Party members. The two proposed candidates were ‘A’ an employee of the local farm, and ‘B’ a disabled ex-RAF, already dismissed from the same farm.
Přišel rok 1954 a volby. Předvolební období bylo rušné i v Dušníkách – nejmenší obci jednoho okresu Středočeského kraje. Podle předpisů Národní Fronta připravila kandidátku, kterou ovšem musel schválit místní výbor KSČ. Mohlo to být konec konců i v obráceném pořadí neb v obou orgánech seděli ti samí soudruzi. Rozkol byl však v obou organizacích tak velký že Dušníky předložily kandidátku na okrese jako poslední. Proč? Protože na kandidátce měli být dva noví a bezpartijní – kandidát A, zaměstnanec Státních statků a kandidát B – invalidní důchodce a coby „západák“ ze Státních statků již propuštěný.
A press campaign is normally an intergral part of any pre-election period. In Dušníiky we did not need one. Everyone even knew what their neighbour was having for lunch. As the meetings of both organisations were very lively, the Party group Chairman and two female members decided to further discuss this situation outside. They chose to stop right underneath the window of the house of the candidate ‘A’. His wife listened to the entire conversation:
Normální předvolební období přínáší s sebou také kampan v tisku. Té však v Dušníkách nebylo zapotřebí. Tady jsme všichni věděli co si vaří sousedka k obědu. Schůze dvou organizací však byly rušné a tak předseda strany a dvě další soudružky považovali za nutné prodiskutovat situaci dvou nových kandidátů na ulici, a aby se to nepletlo, právě pod otevřenými okny kandidáta A. Jeho manželka celou diskusi vyslechla:
“I would not choose the first candidate” said one of the two women, „he walks around the village whistling the bourgeois song ‚I am a Gypsy King.‘ He is an old landowner, that’s obvious.“ She said. The other female chipped in:
„No toho prvního bych neudělala ani tím zemědělským referentem. Když jde po návsi, tak si píská „Cikánský baron jsem já“ Ten kulaka nezapře.“ Druhá soudružka nemohla ovšem zůstat pozadu.
“The other one is no better. Surely he was not dismissed from work and expelled from Prague for no reason. They say he prints illegal leaflets and distributes them around. Remember, even that comrade from the military office warned us against him!”
„No a ten druhý není o nic lepší. Nadarmo ho nevyhodili ze zaměstnání a nevystěhovali z Prahy. Tiskne prý letáky a rozváží je po polích. Však už nám ten soudruh major z Okresní vojenské správy říkal abychom si na něj dali pozor.“
The chairman of the local Party group did not stand a chance. The wife of candidate „A“ leant out of the window and thanked them for the information, which she promised to convey to both candidates. The verbal exchange which followed, reflected the situation.
Předseda KSČ se už k vyjádření svého nározu nedostal. Manželka kandidáta A vykoukla z okna s tím, že jim děkuje za informace a že už to oběma navrženým kandidátům sdělí. Slovní výměnu která následovala po jejím výroku, si lze představit.
The local mood sensor in the grocery shop suggested that the next few days were going to be interesting. Dad was invited to a pre-election interview where he was informed that he was unanimously confirmed by both organisations as a non-party member and an accomplished anti-fascist war veteran. Dad retorted that, according to the rules, only the best can be proposed and that judging by the aforementioned overheard conversation he surely fell short of the requirements.
Obecní barometr v konzumu naznačoval, že příští dny budou určitě zajímavé. Dva dny na to pozvali tatu na předvolební pohovor. Tam se dozvěděl, že byl jednomyslně schválen jak NF tak KSČ jako bezpartijní a zasloužilý bojovník proti fašismu. Tata se ohradil s tím že podle všech možných předpisů mohou být navrženi pouze ti nejlepší a podle jeho posledních informací z již zmíněného odposlechnutího rozhovoru on těmto měřítkům neodpovídá.
“Oh, come on, surely you would not take any notice of the gossip?” was the answer.
„Přece bys nedal na babské řeči“ zněla odpověd.
After a lengthy discussion Dad agreed to stand, providing he received an apology from both female comrades. If not, that would be a proof that he is not a suitable candidate.
Po dlouhé diskusi tata souhlasil avšak s tím, že se mu ty dvě soudružky na veřejné schůzi omluví. Pokud ne, byl by to důkaz, že není vhodným kandidátem.
On election day my parents had been busy decorating, and arrived at the local pub meeting room a bit late. When they entered, the number of empty beer glasses and thick cloud of cigarette smoke suggested that the meeting has been going for some time. The big-wigs from the local and regional Party offices, as well as councils were at the top table. The rest of the room was full of locals.
V den schůze naši malovali a tak se opozdili. Když vešli do místního hostince, podle počtu vypitých piv a cigaretového kouře musela schůze už chvíli probíhat. Za předsednickým stolem seděla „elita“ od újezdního tajemníka KSČ až po zástupce okresních a místních organizací. V sále seděli obyvatelé vesnice.
The regional council representative asked all present to express their views about the proposed candidates. In the meatime the wife of candidate „A“ managed to whisper to my parents that neither her husband nor Dad were on the list. Silence followed. He repeated the question. Dad rose:
Zástupce ONV vyzval přítomné, aby se vyjádřili k navrženým kandidátům. Manželka kandidáta A mezitím stačila rodičům pošeptat že ani její manžel ani tata už na kandidátce nejsou. Po výzvě nastalo v sále hluboké ticho. Zástupce výzvu opakoval. Ozval se tata:
“I have just been told that my name is no longer on the list. May I enquire why?” The regional representative asked for Dad’s name. Another silence followed.
„Právě jsem se dozvěděl že na kandidátce už nejsem. Mohu vědět proč?“ Zástupce se zeptal na tatovo jméno. Nastalo trapné ticho.
“What’s going on here?” he turned to the local comrades who grew very nervous. Dad repeated the gist of the overheard conversation in deadly silence. The other candidate’s wife added the details and to top it all, when asked, the local Party Chairman confirmed the conversation. Into the mayhem which followed, the imposing figure of a moustachioed man with a pipe rose in the middle of the room and the corresponding voice beamed:
„Tak o co tady vlastně jde?“ Obrátil se na místní soudruhy. Ti zneklidněli. Do ticha zopakoval tata obsah odposlechnutého rozhovoru. Manželka druhého kandidáta přidala detaily a navíc, na dotaz zástupce ONV, obsah rozhovoru potvrdil i předdseda místní partaje. Nastala vřava. Do nastalého zmatku se pod žárovkou ve středu místnosti vztyčila vysoká postava s knírem a gypsovkou. Hlas, odpovídající postavě, pronesl:
“As God is my witness, if I were a communist I would throw the bally lot of you out of here with my bare hands!” With that he spat on the floor and stormed out. The following contribution came from his wife, a pig keeper. She addressed the top table as a whole:
„Pri sám Bohu, keby ja som bol komunistom, ja by som Vás všetkých vlastnými rukami vyhádzal.“ Poté si odplivl a odešel. Následoval další příspěvek od jeho manželky – krmičky prasat. Ta oslovila celé předsednictvo:
“You should be ashamed of yourselves, talking like that about a man who fought and suffered while you sat quietly. During the Prague Uprising you hid in the cellars and after the liberation you hot-footed it to the border region to grab whatever you could. Today you are prancing around, live in comfort but do not let others to do the same.“
„Mohli byste se stydět, takhle mluvit o člověku který bojoval a tolik zkusil, zatímco vy jste žili v klidu. Za revoluce jste zalezli do sklepů a po osvobození jste byli první v pohraničí, abyste sebrali kde co. Dne se naparujete, zase se máte dobře a ostatní nenecháte ani v klidu žít.“
The argument was escalating. Eventually the Chairman managed to interrupt and call for an immediate extraordinary Party meeting. The non-members departed to the bar and did not even notice when that meeting finished. Needless to say, neither candidate reappeared on the list.
Hádka vrcholila. Konečně se okresnímu zástupci podařilo přítomné sklidnit natolik že mohl přerušit schůzi a vyzvat straníky aby zůstali na mimořádný partajní aktiv. Bezpartijní odešli do výčepu a ani si nevšimli že partajní aktiv v hlavním sále skončil. Není se čemu divit, že se ani jeden ze dvou bezpartijních kandidátů na seznamu už znovu neobjevil…
A chance meeting took Dad back to aviation – or at least it looked like it. Once he was driving home after a visit to the dentist. Near the local airfield on the outskirts of Kralupy (nowadays a site of the Kaučuk rubber factory) he came to the end of a queue of cars. He stopped and as he got out of the car, a man came to him:
Další shoda náhod přivedla tatu zpět k letadlům – nebo to tak alespon vypadalo… Jednou jel domů z Kralup od zubaře. Na okraji města v Lobečku poblíž místního letiště (dnešní továrna Kaučuk – pozn. autorky) dojel k řadě aut. Zastavil za posledním a po vystoupení z vozu k němu přišel nějaký člověk a povídá:
“Comrade, I am requisitioning you and your car.”
„Soudruhu, beru vás i vaše auto.“
Dad was taken aback. The man proceeded to explain further.
Tatu to uvedlo do rozpaků. Dotyčný vysvětlil situaci následovně:
“I need you and your car as extras for the film we are filming at the local airfield. Please follow me to the office.“
„ Potřebuji vás a auto do komparsu pro filmování na letišti. Pojdte prosím se mnou do kanceláře.“
There Dad learned that our homemade Hansa fitted the requirement of a 1936 car, which is exactly what they required for the scene in the film „Infidelity“ they were shooting. The pay was 100 crowns for the car and a further 30 for Dad – per day! Dad was allowed to drive home to inform the family before returning to the film-set.
Tam se tata dozvěděl že naše, po domácku vyrobená Hansa, byla právě z roku 1936 a tak odpovídala požadavku na auto pro film „Nevěra“ který právě filmovali. Honorář byl sto korun za auto a třicet pro tatu – na den. Tat dostal potvrzení a mohl zajet domů vysvětlit situaci aby se rodina neděsila kde je.
He recalled that it was a strange feeling driving through the airfield gates again. His role was easy. He had to drive the heroine to the awaiting small plane. As the filming took place in the Spring and the light varied, all present were allowed to take refreshments in the small canteen near the main gate. When a horn was sounded, they had to return to their positions. The route went past the open hangar doors.
Podle jeho slov to byl zvláštní pocit když projížděl branou malého letiště. Jeho role byla jednoduchá. Měl odvézt herečku – Janu Klepáčovou – k sportovnímu letadlu. Jelikož se toto filmovalo na jaře a denní světlo bylo vrtkavé, v přestávkách si zúčastnění mohli dojít do kantýny u vrátnice na malé občerstvení. Když se vyjasnilo, zahoukal klakson a všichni museli zpět na svá místa. Cesta z kantýny vedla kolem otevřených dveří hangáru.
Dad was walking in a group. He was stopped by the guard at the edge of the hangar:
Tata šel ve skupině. Na rohu hangáru ho zastavil příslušník závodní stráže se slovy:
“Comrade, you cannot go past the door. You must walk around the back.”
„Soudruhu, tudy nesmíš, musíš ten hangár obejít. Je to nařízení náčelníka letiště.“
He must have recognised Dad because of the old leather military coat, the only one he had to wear. Dad managed to refrain from a sharp retort. The idea of the money he would earn for the family, was a strong pull. The filming lasted ten days…
Asi jej poznal podle starého koženého leteckého, jeho jediného, kabátu který měl tata na sobě. Tata spolkl ostrou poznámku. Vidina tak lehce vydělaných peněz pro rodinu byla příliš silná. Filmovalo se deset dní…
Life went on and I started school in Veltrusy. Luckily, the first bus connection was introduced the same year. We trundled along the lanes in a small bus, nicknamed „potato beetle“, but happy we were nonetheless.
Život pokračoval a já jsme šla do první třídy ve Veltrusích. Náhoda tomu chtěla a ve stejný rok zavedli první autobusové spojení – jezdili jsme ovšem tzv. „mandelinkou“. Ale i to byl úspěch.
As a family we could never afford proper holidays, our only trips were to visit Dad’s mother and the rest of the family in Moravia. In the Fifties and with our little Hansa, it was quite an undertaking. Motorways were not even on the horizon, so we followed ordinary roads, often of dubious quality. Just as well that the Hansa could not do more than 40mph. We used to set off after breakfast. Dad did all the driving so he had to rest several times during the journey. We soon identified a few favourite places to stop.
Dovolené jako takové neexistovaly. Jezdili jsme však na Moravu k tatově mamince a ostatním příbuzným. V padesátých letech a s naší malou Hansou to byla hotová výprava. Dálnice byla v nedohlednu, jezdilo se po okresních silnicích s různou kvalitou povrchu. Hansa na víc než 60km/hod stejně neměla. Vyjížděli jsme hned po snídani. Tata řídil celou cestu takže si musel několikrát za den odpočinout. Mívali jsme „svoje“ místa na která jsme se už těšili.
We prepared our own lunch of hardboiled egg sandwiches and deep fried chicken pieces. Being so short of money, we had to be self-sufficient. We raised poultry, even turkeys, rabbits and grew whatever we could. Fortunately for us, the soil was very fertile and Mum was entitled to some feed from the farm she work on. We utilised all we could, wastage was not allowed.
Tak se připravily chleby s vajíčkem nebo usmažené kousky kuřete. Protože jsme měli tak málo pěněz, museli jsme být soběstační. Což znamenalo že jsme chovali drůbež včetně krocanů, králíky a pěstovali co se dalo. Půda byla naštěstí úrodná a přes mamku jsme měli deputát. A také se z kuchyně nic nevyhazovalo.
The following incident concerned our rabbits. A neighbour turned up, under the cover of darkness as usual, and said: “Watch out, there is something going on behind your garden wall and rabbits are reported being stolen in the area.”
K těm králíkům se vztahuje následující příhoda. Přišel, pochopitelně až za tmy, soused a povídá: „Dejte si pozor, něco se tu za vámi děje a po okolí se kradou králíci.“
We could not afford to lose our precious rabbits so we dragged their heavy hutches close to the house. We did not need to have bothered. The so-called unusual activity was „only“ the StB watching us. So we dragged the hutches back. After all, who would have dared to steal our rabbits which were guarded by the StB!
O naše králíky jsme přijít nechtěli, tak jsme tu těžkou králíkárnu stěhovali z druhého konce zahrady blíž k domu. Zcela zbytečně. Ta neobvyklá aktivita na polní cestě za domem byla Státní bezpečnost, která nás odposlouchávala. Tak jsme tu králíkárnu zase stěhovali zpátky. Kdo by nám taky kradl králíky když nám je hlídala Státní bezpečnost!
As time went by the atmosphere seemed, at least on the surface, a bit calmer. Calmer if I disregard Dad’s frequent compulsory visits to the Regional Military Office in Kralupy, which mostly ended in a verbal argument between Dad and the interrogating officer on duty. How do I know that? Simply because these visits always took place en route to our family outings in Prague and the carpark was directly under the windows of the office where Dad had to go. So we observed the developing situation from the car and hoped that Dad would not put the said duty officer through the window. Luckily that never happened. Not surprisingly, we were desperate to move.
Jak ubíhal čas, situace se zdála, alespon na venek, klidnější. Klidnější když ovšem pominu tatovy povinné návštěvy na Okresní vojenské správě v Kralupech, které většinou vyústily ve slovní potyčce mezi tatou a přítomným důstojníkem. Jak to vím? Protože tyto návštěvy se odehrávaly na naší rodninné cestě do Prahy. Shodou náhod bylo parkoviště právě pod okny kanceláře kam tata chodil. A tak jsme z auta pozorovali situaci a doufali že tata neprohodí zmíněného důstojníka oknem. Naštěstí se tak nestalo. Není divu, že jsme se chtěli odstěhovat.
The trips to Prague seemed magical to me. Amongst our good friends was also the manager of a ball bearing shop in Opletalova Street, a certain Frankie Kroutil. His tiny back office was our safe haven where the family gathered after the necessary shopping and other vital tasks were completed. Amongst Frankie’s numerous friends were ice hockey referees, trials and road motorcycle racers and we started many longlasting friendships there. As a little girl I could not wait till the next trip. We always had a light lunch in the nearby restaurant „U Piaristu“ of a bowl of soup with a long salty bread roll, which was the highlight of the day for me, entertained by Grand Prix motorcycle racer František Štastný, trial champion of the day Jaromir Čížek, international ice hockey referee Mr Tenča, or budding trials star Erwin Krajčovič. When we eventually managed to move nearer Prague, they all found their way to us. We always guessed who was approaching by the sound of the motorcycle engine. František Štastný used to call on us during the week days while working as a test rider for the Jawa factory, rain or shine. During the winter he often arrived frozen to the bone and thawed in our kitchen over the pot of tea and a plate of scrambled eggs. But that was later. We were nearing our next challenge.
Tyto cesty do Prahy měly pro mne přímo čarovný nádech. Mezi našimi dobrými kamarády byl také vedoucí prodejny kuličkových ložisek v Opletalově ulici, jistý Franta Kroutil. Jeho malá prodejna byla místem kde se rodina scházela po všech pochůzkách a nákupech. Mezi Frantovými četnými kamarády byli hokejoví rozhodčí, motokrosoví a silniční motocykloví závodníci a my jsme tam navázali řadu pevných přátelství která přetrvala desetiletí. Jako malá holka jsme se nemohla těch cest dočkat. Chodilo se na oběd K Piaristům a polívka s dlouhým slaným rohlíkem byla vrcholem dne, ovšem kromě legrácek, které pro mé obveselování (zatímco dospělí diskutovali politiku a vzájemné problémy) vymýšlel bud František Štastný, Jarda Čížek, hokejový rozhodčí pan Tenča a později také narůstající hvězda motokrosu Ervín Krajčovič. Po přestěhování blíže ke Praze si všichni našli cestu k nám a tak jsme už o víkendech předem věděli kdo jede podle zvuku motorky. František Štastný se u nás pravidelně zastavoval i přes týden když zajížděl v rámci svého zaměstnání nové Jawy. V zimě byl zmrzlý na kost a tak se u nás zahřál horkým čajem a talířem míchaných vajíček. To bylo ale později. My jsme měli před sebou další „zábavu“.
The house we lived in was bought by a former landowner from Litoměřice town and we were given our marching orders without provision of replacement accommodation. A new housing bill came into action at the end of the 1950‘s, according to which any owner of accommodation with a living area of less than 120 square metres could return to it. Mum and Granny owned exactly that – a small family house in Prague – Bohdalec, far too small to be of any interest to the authorities after we were expelled from Prague. A widowed butcher lived there in the meantime. Dad went to the relevant council in Prague and, according to this newly released bill, asked for the house to be released back to the family. The official’s reply was brief:
Domek, který jsme obývali, koupil bývalý sadař z Litoměřic a my jsme dostali výpověd bez náhradního ubytování. Na konci padesátých let ale vyšel zákon o rodinných domcích podle kterého majitelé domků s obytnou plochou pod 120m čtverečních se mohli nastěhovat zpět. Mamka a babička vlastnily v Praze na Bohdalci právě takový rodinný domek – příliš malý na to aby ho někdo chtěl když nás z Prahy vystěhovali. Tehdy tam bydlel řezník – vdovec. Tata jel do Prahy na výbor a ve smyslu nového zákona žádal o uvolnění domku pro rodinu. Referent měl na to odpověd:
“Well comrade, the bill exists but according to the operational instruction which comes with it, it does not apply to you.”
„Soudruhu, zákon tu sice je, ale já mám k němu prováděcí nařízení a to se na tebe nevztahuje.“
Dad went to court which decided in our favour. It cost us 500 Crowns. But the local council at Prague – Bohdalec wrote that “it was not in the public interest for Šiška to be allowed to move to Prague” ,and that was the end of it. An exchange was our only hope, so we started looking. With friends‘ help we found a suitable house, and in November 1960 we moved into our own place – in the village of Zvole u Prahy, just south of Prague.
Tata se obrátil na soud který rozhodl v náš prospěch. Nás to stálo pět set korun. Uliční výbor KSČ ve Vršovicích ale napsal, že není v obecném zájmu aby se Šiška stěhoval do Prahy a bylo to. Výměna byla naše jediná šance. A tak jsme hledali. Přes známé a jejich informace jsme našli vhodný domek a v listopadu 1960 jsme se přestěhovali do Zvole u Prahy – do svého.
A year prior to our move, we went on our proper holiday before I started school in September. Our old Hansa car gave up the ghost and a purchase of a replacement was out of our reach. Our family friend had a beautiful Borgward soft top which she did not know how to look after. Dad did. So in return for regular maintainance we could use it. We went to the High Tatra Mountains, in Slovakia, where a chance meeting with the Johnson family ended up in the wedding of myself and their younger son Ian at the Staroměstké Town Hall, Prague in 1985. But I am getting ahead of myself here.
Rok před přestěhováním jsme také jeli na pořádnou dovolenou než jsem v září 1959 začala chodit to první třídy. Hansa už vypověděla službu, na koupi auta jsme nemohli ani pomýšlet ale rodinná známá měla nádherného Borgwarda kabrioleta, kterého neuměla udržovat. Tata ale ano. A tak za provádění pravidelné údržby jsme tohle auto měli k dispozici. Jeli jsme do Vysokých Tater kde náhodné setkání s manželi Johnsonovými z Anglie skončilo v roce 1985 svatbou na Staroměstké radnici v Praze mezi jejich mladším synem Ianem a mnou. Ale to předbíhám.
During our holiday we stayed in a small hotel at Tatranska Lomnica. One day, after our return from the trip, Dad stayed behind to check the car over while Mum and I returned to our room. A Morris Traveller with a British number plate pulled up next to our car. Seeing a British car over there in 1959 was quite something. It got Dad’s attention, after all he was always interested in cars and the number plate was interesting too. The driver looked up and and they quickly realised that they could speak the same language. A short talk later, where RAF played its role (my late future father-in-law had been a navigator on Halifax bombers), we were invited to dinner in the Grandhotel Tatranska Lomnica.
My jsme byli v Tatrách ubytovaní v malém hotýlku v Tatranské Lomnici. Po jednom výletu, zatímco mamka a já jsme odešly do pokoje, tata ještě kontroloval auto. Vedle našeho zaparkoval Morris Traveller s britskou poznávací značkou. V Tatrách a v roce 1959 to už samo o sobě byla událost. Tata kouknul, auta jej vždy zajímala a ta SPZ také, pán se také podíval a po pozdravu zjistili že se dobře domluví. Slovo dalo slovo, RAF v tom také sehrála roli (můj již zemřelý budoucí tchán byl navigátorem na Halifaxech) a výsledkem bylo pozvání na večeři do Grandhotelu Tatranská Lomnica.
The Johnsons were camping but they took their evening meals in the hotel. So we spruced ourselves up and off we went. Our hosts and their friend, who travelled with them, were touring Europe and carried a lot of provisions. They insisted in sharing some with us. The problem was how to get them. We were followed by the StB all the time and now we were fraternising with British nationals. Our followers‘ ears were burning! So the two ladies went to the toilet where Mum was given a bag with a few, for us, complete delicacies in the form of butter, instant coffee, tea, cocoa, cholocate, tinned fruit, crackers and a small bottle of whisky.
Johnsonovi sice spali ve stanu ale večeřeli v hotelu. My jsme si umyli krk a šli na večeři. Naši hostitelé a jejich přítel, který byl s nimi, byli na cestě po Evropě a tak měli s sebou spoustu zásob. Nedali jinak než že si musíme nějaké od nich vzít. Jak to ale udělat. Nás hlídali na každém kroku a my jsme se skamarádili s britskými státními příslušníky. Uši těm estébákům jen kmitaly. A tak dvě ženy odešly na toaletu kde mamka dostala několik dobrůtek v podobě másla, rozpustné kávy, čaje, kakaa, čokolád, konzervovaného ovoce, sušenek a malé lahve whisky.
Mum put them inside her own, pre-planned bag and they left the toilet separately. But how would we get back to our hotel with this cargo? Dad solved the problem:
“They will go after me. You two go back the normal way. If somebody approaches you, throw the bag into the bushes so they will not find it on you. I’ll leg it across the park and they will go after me.” It worked.
Dala je do tašky a toaletu opustila každá sama. Jak to ale dostaneme zpět do našeho hotelu? Tata to vyřešil. „Půjdou po mně“, prohlásil „a tak vy dvě běžte normálně po chodníku. Kdyby se k vám nekdo začal blížit, hodte tašku do křoví at vás s tím nechytí. Já to vezmu přes park a nohsledi půjdou za mnou.“ Tak se i stalo.
Mum and I got back without a problem as nobody stopped us. Dad arrived a half an hour later, somewhat out of breath but happy. He had taken his followers through a couple of parks but managed to give them a slip.
Nás nikdo nezastavil, do hotelu jsme došly bez problémů a za půl hodina na to se vrátil i tata, sice poněkud udýchaný ale spokojený protože své pronásledovatele protáhl několika parky a nakonec jim utekl.
We were now living in our own house but Dad’s meagre pension and Granny’s equally meagre contribution still were not enough to cover the basic needs, so Mum had to look for a job again. There were only two options available to her – either the local co-operative farm or the paper mill in the nearby village of Vrané nad Vltavou. She’d had enough of farms and cattle weighing from her previous job. So she took the position of wages clerk at the paper mill and, yet again, she had to walk to work because a factory bus did not exist. This time her journey went through the woods and, as the factory ran a 3-shift rota, she had to start at six in the morning so that the shift workers could see her in their free time. Dad enlisted in the local Council‘s enterprise scheme as a TV repair man, and spent his time between that and looking after our house.
Bydleli jsme ted sice ve svém ale tatův důchod a příspěvek od babičky však stále nebyly dostačující pro uživení rodiny a mamka hledala znovu zaměstnání. Možnosti byly dvě – bud místní JZD nebo papírna ve Vraném nad Vltavou. Po zkušenostech ze Státních statků a vážení dobytka na statku ve Strachově měla zemědelství dost. Nastoupila v papírnách jako mzdová účetní a zase chodila pěšky protože tovární autobus v té době ještě neexistoval. Tentokrát však přes les a protože papírna jela na tři směny, začínala v šest hodin ráno, aby zaměstnanci ve směnných provozech mohli jít k účetní ve volném čase. Tata se zapojil do místního hospodářství a znovu opravoval televize.
Changes were on the horizon. A trial of Hitler’s former wartime accolyte Hans Globke took place in East Berlin in 1963. He was a laywer and creator of the law, according to which Dad was, after his arrest by the Gestapo, sentenced to death for treason and raising arms against Hitler and the Third Reich by the German Military court at Torgau back in 1944. This trial commanded considerable attention elsewhere in both Eastern & Western Europe, though not in our own country. But the German courts requested principal witnesses from Czechoslovakia and, amongst them, three former members of 311 bomber squadron – Gusta Kopal, Vilém Bufka and Dad. Their departure was a quiet family affair, with no officials present. Their return was something else altogether. They were coming back on Sunday, the day of the annual summer village fair. As Mum did not drive in those days, she already arranged with a friend to go to fetch Dad from the railway station. Only she received a telephone call and was told not to worry as he would be met and driven home. So we waited and Dad was brought home – in a chauffeur-driven government official black Tatra car and with a bouquet of red roses to boot! The driver even carried his suitcase into the house for him. They drove right through the village on that Sunday afternoon. We were doubled up with laughter.
Změny byly na obzoru. V roce 1963 se v Východním Berlíně konal proces s válečným zločincem Dr. Hansem Globkem který byl za Hitlera právníkem a podle ním vymyšleného zákona byl tata za války po zajetí gestapem odsouzen k trestu smrti za zemězradu, velezradu a pozvednutí zbraně proti Říši a Hitlerovi válečným soudem v Torgavě. Tento proces měl velký ohlas v Evropě – mimo nás ovšem. Německá strana si ale vyžádala korunní svědky z Československa – mezi nimi tři bývalé příslušníky od stejné 311. bombardovací perutě – Gustíka Kopala, Viléma Bufku a tatu. Jejich odjezd byl velice tichý, na nádraží kromě rodinných příslušníků nebyl nikdo „oficielní“. Jejich návrat byl o něčem zcela jiném. Vraceli se v neděli a ve Zvoli byla pout. Mamka neřídila a tak jsme se domluvili se známým, že s námi pojede na nádraží pro tatu. Zazvonil telefon s tím že pro tatu jet nemusíme, že ho přivezou domů. Tak jsme čekali a oni přivezli. V černé šestsettrojce na zadním sedadle jako svátost a s kyticí rudých růží. Dokonce mu řidič i odnesl kufr až do domu. A jeli přes celou vesnici v neděli odpoledne. To byla psina.
The proverbial thaw had started. A partial rehabilitation at least followed and as part of that Dad received The Order of the Red Star. Šiška and an Order, and red on the top of that – not Dad’s favourite colour. Well, it was his and, as the regulations of this Order permitted, he was entitled to the preferential purchase of a car, which we badly needed by then. We still had that beautiful Borgward with its leather seats, countless rebores and a replacement soft top which Granny made on her manual Singer sewing machine. The car was also very thirsty and we needed something more modern which would help with the depleted family finances. Dad did not miss this chance and one summer evening returned home behind the steering wheel of a light blue Fiat 600D. Cause for celebration indeed! We immediately embarked on a small trip to savour our new purchase properly.
Ledy se hnuly. Následovala alespon částečná rehabilitace v rámci které tata dostal v roce 1965, světe drž se, Řád Rudé Hvězdy. Šiška a řád a ještě k tomu rudý. No ale byl jeho a jak bylo předespáno, mohl na jeho základě dostat přednostně auto. To jsme potřebovali. V té době jsme sice vlastnili toho krásnéhoBorgwarda i s jeho skoženými sedadly, bůh ví kolikátým výbrusem a sklápěcí střechou kterou babička šila na šlapacím Singeru doma. Žíznivý Borgward byl a tak něco modernějšího by pomohlo rodinným financím. Tata možnosti využil a jednoho letního dne přijel domů v novém bleděmodrém Fiatu 600D. To byla sláva. Hned jsme si vyjeli na krátký výlet abychom to patřičně vychutnali.
The political situation really started changing in 1966 when Dad was offered a job as the inspector at the fire service within the Civilian Airport Authority. He accepted and, for the first time since the end of the war, he travelled to the West, on a business trip to Zurich airport. This airport lies on the same parallel as Prague and had a very sophisticated system of fire prevention. He did not believe until the last moment that that plane would take off with him on board, but it did. He came back with so much information that his boss could not believe his ears.
Politická situace se musela opravdu uklidnovat protože v roce 1966 tatovi nabídli místo inspektora požární ochrany ve Správě Dopravních letišt. Vzal to a po roce jel poprvé od konce války na západ na letiště v Curichu které mělo stejnou zěměpisnou polohu jako Praha a velice vyvinutý moderní systém zabezpečování požární ochrany. Tata ovšem do poslední chvíle nevěřil že to letadlo s ním opravdu odstartuje. Odstartovalo. Vrátil se z Curichu z takovým množstvím materiálů že z toho šla hlava kolem.
It was now 1968. The Prague Spring also brought further recognition and rehabilitation of all who fought on foreign fronts against Hitler. A proper Rehabilitation Commission was formed within the Ministry for Defence. Dad was recalled into the military, promoted to the rank of Colonel in the Air Force and put in charge of the rehabilitation of all former Czechoslovak RAF airmen and women. The so-called brotherly help in the form of the Warsaw Pact forces put stop to all this. The Commission was abolished and Dad and his colleagues were, for the second time, dismissed from the military in June 1970.
Psal se rok 1968. Pražské Jaro také znamenalo další vývoj v uznání a rehabilitaci všech příslušníků zahraničního odboje. Byla vytvořena rehabilitační komise při Ministerstvu národní obrany. Tata byl povolán zpět do ozbrojených sil, povýšen do hodnosti plukovníka letectva a stal se členem této komise a měl na starosti letce. Bratrská pomoc armád Varšavské smlouvy však tomu udělala konec. Komise byla zrušena, tatu a jeho kolegy v červnu 1970 opět propustili do civilu.
The situation was worsening. At first they restricted our trips abroad. Later Dad was summoned for an interview. When he entered the room, they locked the door behind him. To top it all, they wanted him to become an informer as they were well aware of his vast contacts with his fellow airmen. They got it in the neck from him but, in return, so did we. My parents were asked to submit their passports for a check and never saw them again. Mum got hers back after some time but Dad did not. We tried repeatedly to get his back but each time received a letter which said that it was not in the best interest of the state for Alois Šiška to hold a passport. At the end we had quite a collection of such letters. Dad eventually got his passport back at the end of the Seventies. In 1972, I completed the Czechoslovak equivalent of A-levels and applied to study Psychology and English at the Philosophical Faculty at the Charles University, Prague. I was not accepted! During my interview with a Professor of English, an Englishman himself, he showed me my file, already marked in red ‘Unsuitable’. So we had a chat instead and I went home.
Začalo přituhovat. Nejprve nám omezili cesty do zahraničí. Pak si jednoho dne pozvali tatu na pohovor.Když vstoupil, zamkli za ním dveře. To neměli dělat. Navíc po něm chtěli, aby se stal informátorem když měl takové bohaté styky s bývalými kolegy z odboje. No, to si dali. Ale my také. Výsledkem bylo vyzvání aby oba rodiče donesli cestovní pasy ke kontrole. A už je neviděli. Mamce pas po nějaké době vrátili ale tatovi ne. Když jsme se pokoušeli pas dostat zpátky, přišel dopis který nám jendoznačně sdělil že by nebylo v zájmu republiky aby Alois Šiška byl držitelem cestovního pasu. Těch dopisů jsme měli několik. Pas mu nakonec vrátili až koncem sedmdesátých let. Mně mezitím nevzali na Filozofickou fakultu UK. Anglický profesor který se mnou dělal ústní pohovor na angličtinu, mi ukázal mojí složku, která už byla červeně označená „Nezpůspobilá“. Tak jsme si místo zkoušky povídali a já šla domů.
Those years were not good for another reason. Dad’s health took a sharp turn for worse which resulted in many long months in hospital and various operations. One such hospitalisation happened during the school summer holiday. Mum rang home from work and from the tone of her voice I realised that something was up. She said she would walk home at once and asked me to take the dog and meet her part way. As soon as we got together, a tearful Mum told me that the hospital had rung her to warn us to expect the worst within the next three months. That was a big blow. Dad was in terrible pain and all imaginable investigative procedures yielded nothing. There was nothing else the doctors could do. So we took a deep breath and, true to our own code of how to handle family situations, we started preparing for the seemingly inevitable. Luck was again on our side. After some time and various calming medications, Dad’s health miraculously improved and he came home. We lived through several similar alarms but they all proved false in the end. (In fact, despite his disabilities and complications, Dad lived for much longer and died peacefully in his sleep on the 9th September 2003).
Tyto roky byly nepříznivé i po jiných stránkách. Tatův zdravotní stav se začal rapidně zhoršovat a výsledkem byly opakované dlouhodobé pobyty v nemocnicích a řada operací. Jedna z hositalizací byla v době letních prázdnin. Mamka zavolala z práce a už podle hlasu jsem poznala že je zle. Sdělila mi že jde okamžitě pěšky domů a at ji přijdu se psem naproti. Sešly jsme se na půli cesty. Mamka mi v slzách sdělila že volala nemocnice at se připravíme na nejhorší, že to nevidí na víc než tři měsíce.To byla rána. Tata měl strašné bolesti a veškerá vyšetření a následné pokusy o vyřešení nikam nevedly. Doktoři už nevěděli co s tím. Tak jsme nabraly doma dech a, jak už bylo mezi mamkou a mnou zavedeným zvykem, začaly řešit možnou situaci. Měli jsme však všichni štěstí. Tatův stav se po nějaké době a utišujících lécích zázračně upravil a vrátil se nám domů. Takových situací jsme zažili od té doby několik ale všechny byly nakonec planný poplach. (I přes jeho invaliditu a četné problémy tata nakonec zemřel doma ve spánku 9. září 2003.)
In 1980 Dad received a letter from the Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead asking whether he could visit, as they had not heard from him for years. We tried. As it was customary in those days, my parents first applied for a permit to obtain the required amount of western currency from the state bank, which they got without any problems. That was not too surprising as we lived in a rural district of Prague West where not many applied , including us, as we certainly had no reason to do so. Next was the 14-day travel permit from the Czechoslovak authorities. That was granted too, albeit on the condition that I did not travel with them. That was not a problem for us as I needed to stay behind anyway and look after my Granny, house and ageing Alsatian. British visas were granted immediately. My parents ordered their air tickets. When Dad went to pick the tickets up, he was asked to go the to the travel department of the Ministry for Transport instead. He was suspicious but all they did was to hand him two free return tickets to London. We never found out who and why was behind it. A family friend drove my parents and me to the airport. Our friend and I stood on the viewing terrace to see the plane off. None of us, and least of all Dad, believed that they would take off but they did. We watched as the Ilyushin IL-62 plane took off for London. For the first time since 1947 he was going back to the country which was his home during the war. Even as I write this now, I can feel the emotions.
V roce 1980 dostal tata dopis z nemocnice královny Viktorie v anglickém East Grinsteadu s dotazem zda by nemohl přijet protože o něm už tolik let neměli žádné. zprávy. Tak jsme to zkusili. Rodiče si požádali o devizový příslib který dostali bez problémů. Nebylo divu, jednak jsme bydleli v okrese Praha- západ a tolik lidí zase nežádalo a navíc my jsme nikdy předtím žádat ani neměli proč. Následovala žádost o výjezdní doložku na 14 dnů do Anglie. I ta prošla, ovšem s podmínkou že já musím zůstat doma. Naši objednali letenky. Když je šel tata vyzvednout, poslali ho místo vydání letenek na odbor Ministerstva dopravy. Čekal zradu ale místo toho mu předali dvě volné zpáteční letenky do Londýna. Jak a proč, to jsme se nikdy nedozvěděli. S rodinným známým jsme naše odvezli na letiště a počkali na vyhlídkové terase na odlet. Nikdo z nás, nejméně ze všech tata, věřil tomu že on do té Anglie odletí. Z letadla jej ale nevyvedli a IL 62 odstartovala směrem Londýn. To stálo za to se dívat! Poprvé od roku 1947 se vracel na návštěvu do země, která mu po dobu války byla domovem. To má sílu i dnes když tyto řádky píši já.
Their trip was great. They managed to visit another good friend and member of 311 squadron, the late František Sadil and his family in Brixham, Devon, as well as many English friends, amongst them the Johnsons but, most of all, Pavel Svoboda with whom Dad survived six days in the dinghy in the North Sea, and his Danish wife Elen. During their stay they learned that on the same weekend an annual three day gathering of the Guinea Pig Club was taking place at East Grinstead. What now? With the help of Pavel and Oldřich and Zdeněk, the Sichrovsky brothers, they hatched a plan. They took my parents to Victoria Station to catch the train to East Grinstead. My parents took a taxi from the station and in doing so, they managed to arrive in time for the traditional Sunday lunchtime gathering in the hospital grounds.
Návštěva Anglie byla nádherná. Stihli navšívit Františka Sadila a jeho rodinu v devonském přímořském městečku Brixham, spoustu anglických dlouhodobých známých včetně rodiny Johnsonových a především Pavla Svobody se kterým tata prožil 6 dnů a nocí na dinghy v Severním moři a jeho dánské paní Eleny. Až v Anglii se naši dozvěděli, že o víkendu se v East Grinsteadu konal každoroční třídenní sraz Guinea Pig klubu. Jak ale na to? S pomocí Pavla a bratrů Sichrovských vymysleli plán. Ti pak v neděli dopravili naše na nádraží Victoria v Londýně odkud jel vlak do East Grinsteadu. Tam by si naši vzali taxi. Tak stihli alespon tradiční polední sraz v zahradě nemocnice.
While waiting for their train at Victoria Station, a little lady came to Dad: “You are Louis Siska, I am sure of it!”
Na nástupišti v Londýně se na tatu začala dívat malá starší paní. Po chvíli k němu přišla a říká: „Vy jste přece Louis Šiška, že?“
She was Mary, one of many volunteers who helped to fill patients‘ time in between operations. This was the idea of the late Sir Archibald McIndoe.
To byla Mary, jedna z četných dobrovolných pracovnic nemocnice které se podle nápadu sira Archibalda starali o vyplnění volného času jeho pacientů mezi operacemi.
We must not forget that his „guinea pigs“ were, even after numerous operations, heavily disfigured with missing eyelids, cheeks, often blind and with stumps instead of arms and hands. It took a great many helpers a lot of effort before these man could face returning to normal life. My parents came back full of wonderful memories and we had a lot to talk about for some time to come. (My first trip to England happened a year later, followed by another one after three years, but that is another story.)
Nesmíme zapomenout na skutečnost, že jeho „morčata“ byla i po operacích stále znetvořená. Chybějící tváře, oční víčka, slepota, pahýly místo rukou. Bylo zapotřebí velkého úsilí mnoha lidí aby se tito stateční muži mohli vrátit do normálního života. Naši se vrátili domů jak v Jiříkově vidění. Měli jsme si o čem povídat ještě hodně dlouho. (Následovala moje první cesta do Anglie a pak druhá po třech letech ale to už je jiná kapitola. Pznámka autorky.)
In 1989 my parents concluded that they should move from a large house and garden into something more manageable and also in Prague. Chance played its part again. Friends, who had a summer cottage in the village, knew somebody living near them in Prague, who wanted to move into the country as they were dog breeders. They lived in a two bedroom terraced house on the outskirts of the old part of Prague‘s Modřany quarter. I was married by then, so Ian and I went to Prague in April 1989 to help my parents move.
V roce 1989 se naši rozhodli, že by bylo lépe se přestěhovat z velkého domu se zahradou do menšího. Náhoda opět sehrála svou roli. Známí, kteří měli ve Zvoli malý domeček na letní byt, věděli o rodině, která se chtěla z Prahy přestěhovat na venkov protože chovali psy na plemeno. Bydleli na okraji starých Modřan ve dvoupokojovém řadovém domku. Já už jsem v té době byla vdaná a tak jsme s manželem Ianem jsme přijeli v dubnu 1989 z Anglie pomoci se stěhováním.
Another political change was brewing. In November 1989 the long wished for Velvet Revolution started, only my Granny never got to see it. She fell ill and was in a coma from October that year and never recovered. How happy she would have been, seeing the end of the regime which hurt her and her family so much!
Politické změny byly na obzoru. Když přišel listopad 1989 a rozběhla se naplno naše krásná Sametová revoluce, babička se jí už nedočkala. Upadla do komatu koncem října a už se z něj nevrátila. Jakou ta by měla bývala radost, že režim, který jí a rodině tak ublížil, skončil.
Dad, who despite his health imposed limitations, always kept active, if only by talking to young generations about his war experience, was again promoted. He eventually reached the rank of Major General (retired) and was entitled to wear his Czechoslovak Air Force uniform for official occasions.
Tata, který vlastně v rámci omezení nikdy nepřestal být aktivní a rád se podílel jak s mladými tak starší generací o své válečné zážitky, byl opět povýšen, nakonec až do hodnosti generálmajora v.v. a dostal novou uniformu, kterou mohl nosit při slavnostních příležitostech.
He got involved in helping his fellow airmen and their widows, became a long serving Deputy Chairman of the Czechoslovak ex-RAF Association, gave talks, spearheaded fundraising, be it for the Sue Ryder home in Prague where several places are always reserved for the ex-RAF airmen and their widows, or the annual Airmen’s Ball, a pre-war tradition revived under the new regime. Dad continued with his involvement virtually until his death in September 2003.
Zapojil se znovu do pomáhání svým bývalým spolubojovníkům a také jejich vdovám, postupně se stal místopředsedou Asociace Ex-RAF, dělal besedy, sháněl peníze at už na zřízení domova Sue Ryder, ve kterém je několik míst pro ještě žijící příslušníky RAF nebo jejich vdovy, nebo na tradiční letecký ples jehož tradice byla v rámci změn opět ustavena. V této činnosti pokračoval prakticky až do své smrti v roce 2003.
He was given a full military funeral, including a fly past by two military helicopters. The planes from the squadron he took the patronage of some time before his death were not, due to the regulations about military aircraft low level flying over the capital, allowed to perform the fly past themselves. Instead squadron personnel attended in force. Despite all the sadness, there was joy too. Once I got to Mum after his death, I started to ring around various friends and acquaintances, also back here in England as I did not waste any time doing so before departing, my priority being to reach Mum as soon as possible. Amongst those was also Pavel Svoboda’s widow Elen. She already knew through a friend in Prague, but she was, as she said, expecting my call in due course. Much to my surprise she told me that she was due to arrive in Prague, en route to her regular stay in the spa town of Luhačovice. She wanted to know whether we would like her to attend Dad’s funeral. I was speechless with emotion.
Měl nádherný vojenský pohřeb včetně přeletu dvou helikoptér. Podle předpisů o průletech nadzvukových vojenských letadel přes území hlavního města Prahy nemohly udělat průlet „jeho“ L159 z Náměště nad Oslavou kde převzal několik roků předtím patronát nad letkou. Letka se však dostavila v plném počtu včetně zástavy. I v této smutné chvíli byla ale radost. Když jsem po příjezdu domů k mamce začala obvolávat známé včetně anglických (doma v Anglii na to nebylo kdy, neb nejdůležitější pro nás bylo abych se dostala k mamce co nejdřív), volala jsem také Eleně Svobodové. K mému překvapení mi sdělila že letí za dva dny do Prahy a v den tatova pohřbu 17. září měla nastoupit léčení v Luhačovicích. Chtěla vědět zda bychom jí rádi viděli na pohřbu. Nemohla jsem v první chvíli ani promluvit.
There could only be one answer. Elen knew that herself anyway, as she already informed the matron in the spa sanatorium that she would arrive a day later. She joined us and together we represented now the fully departed crew of Wellington KX-B.
Odpověd byla jasná. Elena to stejně ale věděla i sama a tak už informovala hlavní sestru v sanatoriu v Luhačovicích, že z důvodu pohřbu nastoupí o den později. Byla s námi a společně jsme zastoupili už nežijící posádku KX-B.
There is one other thing which applies to Dad – his total lack of respect for any dictatorial authority, being it Nazis, Communists or, indeed, any other. His strength was that he genuinely did not fear them, and they controlled people by fear. As my husband Ian put it, “authorities basically did not know how to handle him”. Even in the post Velvet revolution democracy he was known as a troublemaker as he respected law and order but never bureaucracy.
Tata byl známý tím, že nerespektoval žádnou diktaturu, at už Nacisty, komunisty či jinou. Jeho síla byla v tom, že se jich nebál a tyto režimy byly postavené na kontrole pomocí strachu. Manžel Ian to popsal následovně:”režimy se s ním vlastně nevěděly rady”. I v novém demokratickém zřízení po Sametové revoluci byl tvrdým Oříškem, protože respektoval zákony a pořádek, ale nikdy ne byrokracii.
His war story has been well documented, including several editions of his biography ‘KX-B Neodpovida (The English version, translated & edited by the author under the title ‘Flying for Freedom’ was published by Pen & Sword in 2008).
O válečných útrapách toho bylo o tatovi napsáno hodně, včetně několika vydání jeho autobiografie KX-B neodpovídá. (Naposledy tato knížka vyšla v roce 2008 v anglické versi pod názvem „Flying for Freedom“ v překladu autorky).
© Dagmar Johnson – Šišková
At 14:00 11 May 2014 a ceremony was held by the Czechoslovak Memorial, at Brookwood Military Cemetery, to commemorate the 69th anniversary of the end of WW2.
Dne 11. května 2014, v 14.00 hodin se u příležitosti 69. výročí ukončení druhé světové války, konal na vojenském hřbitově Brookwood u československého pomníku slavnostní obřad.
Official dignitaries present were H.E. Miroslav Wlachovský Ambassador of the Slovak Republic, Antonín Hradílek – Minister-counsellor, Deputy Head of Mission at the Czech Embassy London, Major General Miroslav Žižka – First Deputy Chief of General Staff of the Czech Armed Forces, Brigadier General Ladislav Jung – Deputy Land Forces Commander. The Defence Office of the Czech Embassy London was represented by Col. Roman Siwek and Lt. Col. René Klapáč with the Slovak Defence Office being represented by Col Vladmir Samek. Also attending were relatives and descendants of the Czechoslovak who had served in the RAF or British Army during WW2 as well as well wishers from the Czech Republic and the UK.
Kterého se účastnili velvyslanec Slovenské republiky Miroslav Wlachovský, m,inisterský poradce, zástupce vedoucího, mise na československém vyslanectví v Londýně, hlavní generál Miroslav Žižka – První zástupce náčelníka Generálního štábu AČR, brigádní generál Ladislav Jung, zástupci velení vojenského letectva. České velvyslanectví v Londýně zastupovali plukovník Roman Sivek a podplukovník René Klapáč, za Slovensko plukovník Vladimír Samek. Slavnostního obřadu se dále účastnili rodinní příslušníci a příbuzní československých letců, kteří za druhé světové války byli příslušníky RAF a jejich příznivci z České republiky a Velké Británie.
Speeches were made, in English, by H.E. Miroslav Wlachovský, Antonín Hradílek and Major General Miroslav Žižka after which the national anthems of the Czech Republic, the Slovak Republic and Britain were played. Wreaths were then laid by the Czechoslovak Memorial.
Slavnostní projevy v angličtině přednesli H.E. Miroslav Wlachovský, Antonín Hradílek a generál major Miroslav Žižka, poté byly zahrány hymny České republiky, Slovenské republiky. Velké Británie a položeny věnce k památníku. československých letců.
A noticeable new initiative, introduced by the Czech Defence Office, for this years event was that each of the 46 Czechoslovak headstones by the memorial had a Royal British Legion cross’s, featuring a Czech flag, laid in front of it.
Patrně z iniciativy českého úřadu MO byl na každý ze 46 československých náhrobků umístěny kříže památníku Royal British Legion a před každým křížem byla dána česká vlajka.
Following the ceremony, the attendees then went to the adjacent Czechoslovaks ex-Servicemens cemetery, in the civilian section of Brookwood where the urns recently departed Miloslav Bitton and his late wife were interred.
Po ukončení slavnostního obřadu, jeho účastníci odešli na hřbitov v civilní části Brookwoodu, kde jsou pochováni zemřelí českoslovenští letci, k hrobu nedávno zesnulého Miloslava Bitton a jeho manželky.
The days event was concluded with a member of the Czech Embassy staff providing more Royal British Legion Remembrances crosses, with Czech flag, for at the attendees to lay against the 96 headstones in this section.
Celá slavnostní akce byla ukončena členem personálu velvyslanectví České republiky a zástupcem Royal British Legion, jenž umožnil umístění a vzpomínkové kříže s českou vlajkou, proti 96 náhrobkům v této sekci.
A special mention of recognition to Mr Andel, who again as in many previous years had, before the ceremony commenced, voluntarily contributed and laid red carnations against each of the Czechoslovak headstones in this section as well as two against Czechoslovak graves in the main RAF CWGC cemetery.
Zvláštní uznání si zaslouží pan Anderle, který i v tomto roce , jako v předešlých letech,, před zahájením obřadů, dobrovolně přispěl a položil v této sekci na každý československý náhrobek červené karafiáty. A stejně je tak položil na protější hroby v hlavní části hřbitova RAF CWGC.
On the 5th May, a modest remembrance ceremony traditionally organised by the Lest We Forget Battlefield Tours (Flanders) company, took place in the Ypres Town Extension CWGC cemetery in Belgium, commemorating the ill fated RAF Operation Circus 157, during which 4 RAF Spitfire pilots lost their lives on the very same days 72 years ago: they were the Brit – F/Sgt S Jones, the Belgian F/Lt B de Hemptinne, the Canadian Sgt J Ribout and the Czech Sgt Karel Pavlík.
5. května se uskutečnila malá pietní akce, tradičně pořádaná společností Lest We Forget Battlefield Tours (Flanders), na vojenském hřbitově Ypres Town Extension CWGC v Belgii, na paměť fatální RAF Operace Circus 157, během které 4 RAF piloti Spitfirů přišli o život v ten samý den před 72 lety: Brit F/SGT S Jones, Belgičan F/Lt B de Hemptinne, Kanaďan SGT J Ribout a Čech SGT Karel Pavlík.
Commemorated was also the Czech S/Ldr F Fajtl, who was shot down during this Operation as well, but crash-landed, survived and re-joined the RAF three months later after a dramatic escape across the continent.
Vzpomněli jsme také SGN/Ldr Františka Fajtla, který byl taktéž sestřelen v Operaci Circus 157, ale podařilo se mu přistát a po dramatickém tříměsíčním útěku přes kontinent se dostal zpět do Británie a k RAF. Své zážitky popsal ve známé knížce “Sestřelen”.
We also paid homage to the last Belgian WW II RAF Spitfire pilot Robert “Bobby” Lauman, who died on 21st April 2014, aged 93.
Uctili jsme i památku posledního belgického druhoválečného RAF pilota Spitfiru Roberta “Bobbyho” Laumana, který zemřel 21.4.2014 ve věku 93 let.
The ceremony was attended by Lt Col F Borremans – the commander of the Ypres military logistics centre, Belgian military reserve officers as well as eight standard bearers representing the local veterans´associations, members of the RBL Stevenage Branch Mr and Mrs Mott and Mr. Morley on behalf of the RBL Ypres Branch.
Na pietní akci byl přítomen Lt Col F Borremans, velitel vojenského logistického centra v Ypres, belgičtí důstojníci v záloze, osm vlajkonošů místních veteránských organizací a také pan a paní Mottovi za Royal British Legion Stevenage Branch a pan Morley jménem RBL Ypres Branch.
After an introductory speech, poppy cross tributes were placed at the graves of the fallen pilots and the four national anthems were played.
Po úvodním projevu byly k hrobům padlých pilotů položeny křížky s vlčími máky a byly zahrány čtyři státní hymny.
Then all the present proceeded to the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing, where a wreath was placed on behalf of the RAF pilots fallen during Operation Circus 157.
Poté se všichni účastníci odebrali k památníku nezvěstným padlým – Meninské bráně, kde byl položen věnec na paměť padlých pilotů Operace Circus 157.
We will remember them!
Čest jejich památce!
Milena Kolaříková and Chris Lock
Lest We Forget Battlefield Tours (Flanders)
At 16:00 5th May the annual ceremony at na náměstí Míru, Plzeň, to remember the members of Západočeského aeroklubu Plzeň – West Bohemia Aero Club Plzeň – who were killed during WW2.
5 května, v 16.00 hodin se konala každoroční vzpomínka na členy Západočeského aeroklubu – Západní Čechy Flying Club , kteří zemřeli ve 2. světové válce.
Eighteen of the pilots from the club were killed during WW2 while serving in the Czechoslovak 310 Sqn, 311 Sqn, 312 Sqn, 313 Sqn and other British squadrons in the RAF. Twelve more club members were executed in Nazi concentration camps because of their resistance activities against the occupying Germans. One of of these was Jan Placák, the Chairman of the club who was an active member of “Obrana národa“ – Defense of the nation – who organised the escape of Czechoslovak pilots to Poland in 1939.
Osmnáct pilotů z klubu přišlo o život, kteří ve druhé světové válce létali u československých perutí , 310., 311., 312., 313. Sqn. a v dalších britských perutí RAF. Dvanáct dalších členů Západočeského aeroklubu, bylo za odbojovou činnost proti okupantům, popraveno v nacistických koncentračních táborech. Jedním z nich byl předseda aeroklubu, jenž byl aktivním členem “Obrana Národa” a organizoval v roce 1939, útěk československých pilotů do Polska.
At 15:00 on the 15th May 2014 a ceremony will be held in the village of Lutopecny, birthplace of the late major general Alois ŠIŠKA to commemorate his hundredth birthday.
15. května tohoto roku se bude v Lutopecnách, rodišti generálmajora Aloise ŠIŠKY, konat vzpomínková akce u příležitosti stého výročí jeho narození.
The event will begin with a wreath laying at his memorial plaque at the local council building with family members, members of the 213 Training squadron “ŠIŠKOVA” base at the 21st tactical airbase Čáslav and invited guests present.
Akce započne položením květin u pamětní desky Aloisi Šiškovi na budově obecního úřadu za účasti rodinných příslušníků, členů 213, výcvikové letky „ŠIŠKOVA“ základny taktického letectva Čáslav a dalších hostů.
An illustrated talk about his life, unveiling of the memorial plaque in 2011 and the story of the KX-B monument building in Petten will follow.
Poté proběhne ilustrovaná beseda o životě Aloise Šišky, odhalení pamětní desky v r. 2011 a historie budování památníku posádce KX-B v holandském Pettenu.
Každým rokem koncem dubna si připomínají obyvatelé Plzně – Doubravky své rodáky, letce Západočeského aeroklubu v Plzni na Borech, Karla Pavlíka, Václava Šindeláře a Aloise Záleského, kteří zahynuli ve službách Britského královského letectva za 2. světové války.
In late April every year, a ceremony is held at Plzeň – Doubravky in remembrance of Karel Pavlik, Václav Šindelář and Alois Záleský who were members of the Západočeský flying at Plzeň-Bory and who died whilst serving in the RAF during World War 2.
V úterý 29. dubna od 16 hodin proběhl v parku na Habrmannově náměstí pietní vzpomínkový akt za účasti primátora města Plzně, zástupců Úřadu městského obvodu Plzeň 4, Leteckého historického klubu Plzeň, Svazu letců č.4 Plzeň, Čs. obce legionářské a Armády ČR. Na začátku vzpomínkového aktu přeletělo nad hlavami přítomných letadlo z Aeroklubu Plzeň – Letkov. Pak se již slova ujal starosta Plzně – Doubravky Michal Chalupný, následován primátorem Plzně Martinem Baxou. Po nich přednesli své proslovy předseda Leteckého historického klubu Plzeň Václav Toman, následován předsedou plzeňské odbočky Svazu letců Jiřím Nelibou a maj. Jindřich Plescher Armády ČR.
At 16:00 on Tuesday 29 April, the memorial ceremony was held at Habrmannově náměstí, Plzeň – Doubravky. Attending was Martin Baxa, the Mayor of Plzeň, representatives from the Municipal Office for Plzeň 4, the Air historic club of Plzeň, Svazu letců Branch 4 from Plzeň, Čs. obce legionářské and the Army of the Czech Republic. The ceremony was opened with a flypast of aircraft from Aeroklubu Plzeň – Letkov. Michal Chalupný, Mayor of Plzeň – Doubravky, opened the commemoration speeches, followed by Martin Baxa then Václav Toman, Chairman of Air Historic Club of Plzeň, Jiří Neliby Chairman of the Plzeň branch of Svazu letců and by Maj. Jindřich Plescher of the Army of the Czech Republic.
Všichni se ve svých proslovech shodli na hrdinství pilotů a připomněli, aby si dnešní generace vážila svobody, míru a demokracie, v které žijeme. Po řečnících následovala historická státní hymna Československa a Velké Británie. Pak se hosté přesunuli před budovu konzervatoře, kde pokračoval pietní akt položením květin a věnců k desce statečných pilotů.
During their speeches they all vowed to commemorate the heroism of these airmen, and lead the present generation to continue in freedom with peace and democracy. After the speeches the national anthems of Czechoslovakia and Great Britain were played. The ceremony concluded with the laying of flowers and wreaths at the airman’s memorial plaque.
|Award and Medal Ribbon :|
Distinguished Service Order
Distinguished Flying Cross
Air Force Cross
Distinguished Flying Medal
Air Force Medal
|KCB||Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire|
|CBE||Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire|
|OBE||Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire|
|MBE||Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire|
Detailed description on the above medals are here
|FECHTNER Emil||F/O||DFC||26/10/40||† 29/10/40|
|BLATNÝ Benedikt||F/Lt||DFM||07/07/41||† 08/07/43|
|OCELKA Josef||W/Cmdr||DFC||03/07/41||† 21/07/42|
|MAREŠ [Toman] Karel||G/Cpt||DFC||03/09/41||† 10/07/42|
|BEČVÁŘ Karel||F/O||DFC||12/03/42||† 18/08/42|
|BEROUNSKÝ Josef||G/Cpt||CBE||12/03/42||† 30/04/42|
|DYGRÝN Josef||W/O||DFM||12/03/42||† 04/06/42|
|STRÁNSKÝ Josef||S/Ldr||DFC||18/08/42||† 21/06/44|
|VAŠÁTKO Alois||W/Cmdr||DFC||23/06/42||† 23/06/42|
|HÁJEK Karel||Sgt||MM||06/08/42||† 09/03/45|
|JEŘÁBEK Jan||Sgt||AFM||20/08/42||† 15/07/42|
|HIMR Jaroslav||S/Ldr||DFC||08/10/43||† 15/07/43|
|ANDERLE Leo||F/Lt||DFC||05/09/42||† 10/12/42|
|BREITCETL Jindřich||W/Cmdr||DFC||24/09/42||† 21/08/43|
|PŘÍHODA Josef||F/O||DFC||29/09/42||† 06/03/43|
|BLÁHA Josef||F/Sgt||AFM||20/08/42||† 15/01/43|
|HANUŠ Josef Jan||W/Cmdr||DFC||25/05/43|
|ŠEBELA Metoděj||F/Lt||DFC||13/10/43||† 18/11/43|
|ALEXANDER Jan Robert||F/Lt||DFM
|SMIK Otto||S/Ldr||DFC||20/10/43||† 28/11/43|
|VELLA Jan||F/O||DFC||26/01/45||† 10/01/45|
|BENEŠ [Bekr] Jindřich||P/O||DFC||20/06/45|
Article last updated 27 January 2015.
An extract from S/Ldr Miroslav Liškutín DFC, AFC’s autobiography ‘Stormy Skies – Reminiscences of an Aviator’ recalling his experiences following the Communist putsch in Czechoslovakia in February 1948.
During the late Autumn of 1947 I became somehow alarmed with the persistent news-items about the infiltration of extreme left-wingers into the Police, perhaps also into the Army and particularly, into the Czechoslovak Social Democrat Party. This was the prelude to the internal take-over of the ‘Soc-Dem’ party organisation by Fierlinger and his team of Communist infiltrators. When it did happen … I was shaken out of my complacency. Their eventual declaration that the Social Democrats are amalgamating with the Czechoslovak Communist Party seemed to be completely unbelievable.
Everybody could see that this take-over of the party administrative organs was done arbitrarily, without agreement or consultation with members and, it certainly was not legal … but the opponents were in disarray, not able to do anything about it. It was a fait accompli, which certainly could not be described as ‘democratic’ and, for which nobody knew the answer. The whole Social Democratic movement was paralysed into inactivity. As the result, the policy of ‘Entry-ism’ was confirmed as one of the most powerful weapons of the totalitarians. In this ‘Palace revolution’ the Communists have taken away the political representation from some 20% of the electorate, without the Parliament or the Courts being able to intervene! In this we have seen the first manifestation of the Soviet intentions in Czechoslovakia.
The increasing signs of political intimidation were felt everywhere and some people started recognising this new reality. Threatening letters and parcel-bombs were delivered to prominent Democratic Ministers, including the non-political Jan Masaryk. Nobody died but, the threat had to be taken seriously. The implications could be ignored only at our peril.
At the same time the national discussions about the proposed participation in the Marshal Aid program seemed to be firmly in favour … with only the Communist Party and the Soviet Union objecting. Unfortunately, very soon we realised that the Czechoslovak Government was not free in deciding our national Policies. It was made abundantly clear that … nothing can be done if the Soviets forbid it! That was the time when many people started talking about leaving the country, before it is too late.
A different aspect of this situation looked to me more puzzling: many moderate or conservative-inclined people started embracing the Communist faith. This was seen not only among the general population but also among our Air Force officers. I was told that it must be understood that it is opportunism as a safeguard and, that it is the only real safeguard. Surprisingly, some of these unlikely new communists have acquired very speedily a confidence of the Communist Party. This extraordinary contradiction in seeing some dye-hard-true-blue conservative Air Force officers becoming active in the ‘leading Party’ … seemed to be accepted without a question everywhere. The nation seemed to be prepared to accept the totalitarian danger in preference to the possibility of offending our Great Ally. I could detect in the air a curious amalgam of fears: ‘France and Britain have rejected us in 1938, the Americans have handed over our country to Stalin in 1945 … so what else do you want to know?’ I have noted also what had happened in the other Central and Eastern European countries and, how do people behave under this kind of a threat. But even so, I could not stomach such perversions and, made my views clearly known.
I remember an incident at the Kbely Air Base, which fitted well into this dismal picture. An American Air Force Harvard trainer flown by two young officers … became lost in the prevailing poor visibility and, they landed at our airbase. The thick haze made all flying that day nearly impossible so, I was not really surprised that the Americans were lost. There was no doubt that these two young pilots would have been pleased to find an airfield instead of finishing with a forced landing in a field.This assessment would have been absolutely clear to any unbiased aviator.
Czechoslovakia was slowly becoming less normal in many ways and, the behaviour of some people reflected the strangeness of the underlying trends. In this context one can see, how a group of Air Force officers at the Kbely airbase came to the air-traffic control tower to welcome the visitors; but, there was no welcoming at all. In fact the Yanks were subjected to a stream of unexpected abuse. As I was approaching … I was dismayed to hear an officer, ex-air gunner from 311 Squadron RAF, shouting at the Americans that they are spies. This lunatic outpouring sounded so unnatural, something comparable to the old Nazi style. By the time I reached the group it looked to me that the Yanks are worried.
Considering the scene … my disappointment was intense. There was a group of former Royal Air Force officers, who came to greet the visiting crew, but now stood silent, allowing the disgraceful behaviour to go unchecked. They knew that here was obviously a case of a lost crew in bad weather but, it looked to me that they feared … that any words spoken in defense of the Americans may harm their own career. It was just unbelievable!
My own mind was made-up immediately and I intervened. I stepped between the idiotic air gunner/security officer and the Americans … with clear words for him to push-off, get lost! As my own rank was above that of the security man, he had no choice and, retreated from his scene of glory.
I apologised to the visitors and offered my help. In a few moments I established that their flight-plan included Prague-Ruzině airport and, that they have a Diplomatic Clearance for Prague-International airport. Not to allow the situation to get complicated, I checked if they have any fuel left and said right away: “You chaps get into your aircraft, I am taking an Ar-96 of similar performance … you format on me and regardless of the poor visibility, I will take you to Ruzyně.”
Throughout this incident, none of the officers present managed to say one word; they remained completely silent. Most likely overcome by fear; bloody cowards! I led the Harvard to Prague-International airport on the other side of the city and, returned to Kbely. The group of our officers still stood near the air-traffic control … but now in an animated discussion. Their behaviour seemed to me to be completely strange; incomprehensible. Alas, a sign of times!
I suppose, this incident may have added to my probable assessment as an ‘against-the-wind’ character, but I did not care. All I could think of … that a long ago somebody said: …”the only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.’ Here was a case when the cowardly ‘good men’ certainly opted out for their career sake while, a cry from my soul was: ‘full throttle, attack, regardless:’
There were warnings and signs to see, but I wanted to believe that the nation is mature and, in favour of democracy. What I did not know was the depth of moral damage caused by years of occupation, the resentment against Munich, the real effect of propaganda from Moscow and, the desperate urge to be friendly with the Soviet Union … at any price! The all-pervading slogan of those days was: “Trust Russia!” And, many did.
February 1948 was a historical disaster for Czechoslovakia but people could not see it until after the Putsch was done. For me the unbelievable
became the new reality without a delay. Barely the revolutionary fever had subsided and the howling mob cleared out of Prague streets … that was when General Hanuš of the High Command descended in person onto the Administrative School in Praha-Kbely. The impact of this extraordinary intervention had left me in a state of disbelief and, shock.
General Hanuš came to address us without a notice or explanation. His speech consisted of a sequence of mad ravings against the ‘counter-revolutionaries’ and, it was a sound of shouting of a demented person. It reminded me of Hitler’s performance at his best!
According to Hanuš, there were six dye-hard counter-revolutionaries within the School and, he named me as one of them too! Then he ordered us to stand to attention while he continued his more personalised abuse and threats, without actually saying what is it we may have done to deserve it. Mira Mansfeld was the first of us to recover composure and spoke up: “I beg your pardon, General, Sir, I fail to see what is this all about? Are you forgetting that you are addressing senior officers of the Czechoslovak Air Force? Please, explain yourself?”
Hanuš hesitated for a moment and then, red in face, continued with his raving. According to him, we were traitors who should be shot. He then repeated that shooting people like us is the only treatment we can expect and, with the immediate effect, he placed us under some vague kind of arrest; this in fact amounted only to being confined to our billets. Hanuš then departed with a menacing statement that the verdict will be given later.
A gloomy prospect seemed to lay ahead and whichever way I looked at it, I could not understand. Why were we treated like criminals? ‘What is it all about? But, there were no explanations available.
It was only later when Karlik Sláma reminded me that during the revolutionary period people were talking freely about what may be actually happening at the demonstration in St. Wenceslas Square and, what should be our attitude to it. He then reminded me about a discussion over a dinner a couple of days earlier … when all of us ‘rebels’ happened to be sitting together; when we criticised the violence and lawlessness, which was organised by the Communist Party. We were in agreement in saying that the president, Dr. Beneš, should call in the Army to restore order. Only one of that group was not named by the general as a ‘Traitor’ and, that was indeed significant. The ‘loyal’ man was Josef Novotný, ex-RAF fighter pilot who recently joined the Communist Party. Obviously, he reported our conversation and our attitude to the putsch directly to the Party Cell in our Air Force headquarters. Since the Party was now completely in control of everything, they felt free to do whatever they were instructed to do by the Central Committee. Well, now we knew, but the remaining and somehow intriguing puzzle was the statement, that a verdict will be given later. After much chewing it over I decided not to get very much agitated, because it may have been their way of causing anxiety; to be put in a defensive frame of mind, which I had no intention of doing.
Nothing happened for a few days and then suddenly, the course was officially disbanded and we were ordered to return to our units. It seemed that our house-arrest or the confinement to barracks was forgotten and, the arrangements to get us shot may have been postponed till further notice.
I returned home to Brno in a distinctly uneasy mood. My thoughts dwelled on the historical evolution of my homeland. Barely ten years after Munich, another national tragedy was unrolling in front of our eyes. The atmosphere in Brno was subdued and, there was a feeling of near-despair over the fate of our nation. It would seem that the trials and tribulations which Providence had in store for the Czechoslovak nation were not to end just yet.
I recall that during this grave period … the Red Army stood on our borders, ready to intervene with force. This factor above any other, would have persuaded the Czechoslovak Government that they will have to resign and hand over everything to Gottwald, the Red chief. No doubt, the ailing president Dr. Beneš had considered this violation as more acceptable than the alternative: a fratricidal civil war, in which the Soviet Union would support the vocal and violent minority … while the Western Allies could only express their support by pious words. Naturally, Czechoslovakia belonged to the Soviets, because President Roosevelt decreed so!
I had the impression that the whole neighbourhood in Brno shared the anxieties and, dismay. Although there were some people who appeared to be enthusiastic about the new state of affairs, my considered opinion indicated that the Communist putsch had shaken us all. The subsequent death of Jan Masaryk, the Foreign Minister, only served to confirm our worst fears. After that, even the local rank-and-file Party members started hesitating.
In Czechoslovakia since the end of the war … it was a common knowledge that one third of the nation was flirting with a totalitarian faith. These people believed, or wanted to believe, that the nation should join the Soviet Union politically, that we need the ideology of the Third International that their cause is sacred, that violence must be used against opponents and, who does not go with them … is an enemy.
It was in this spirit that they dealt with the unwilling Social Democrats and defeated them through a well planned infiltration. As soon as Fierlinger consolidated his grip on the Soc-Dem administrative channels, the Communist party started claiming a ‘democratic majority’ , even though most of the Social Democrats in Parliament refused to vote as Communists. With the takeover finalised, the opposition within the Soc-Dem party was soon eliminated. And, the same fate awaited the other political parties. The Trade Unions have seen to it that all opposition was paralysed.
From then on, the Soviet Embassy in Prague was completely in charge; they ruled through the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia and, there was nobody who could do anything about it. Not even the dying president Beneš.
When I returned back to duty at the Brno Air Base, I found that my colleagues seemed to be rather subdued and very cautious in conversation. I could not even tell which of my old friends remained loyal to the ideals of our liberal democratic Republic; it seemed difficult to accept that there may be increasing numbers of those who went over to the communists. I found it quite intolerable to accept that even the supporters of militant leftish views would stoop to treason and, support the Soviets against our national interests. It was however clear to see that a new situation was being created with unknown, fathomless implications.
The outlook for me was grim. I had to consider quite seriously the possibility of finding myself in jail on some trumped-up charges … because of being against the revolution … because of remaining loyal to the liberal Democratic Republic. It is of course true that I was against the illegal and seditious developments, but this may have been only a side-issue. The real reason may have been elsewhere.
There was a sudden outburst of hysterical propaganda against the ex-RAF officers and particularly against those married to English/British women. It was not made clear why should the surviving combatants from the Western Front be now vilified and persecuted?
Although difficult to grasp at first, it would appear that the twisted mind of militant Communists must have concluded that the surviving legionaries are enemies. The ‘Western Aviators’ could become the centre of opposition to the newly created dictatorship in Czechoslovakia. This is why the Party had decided that the former ‘war-heroes’ are to be eliminated.’ That was why the new social-fascist regime in our homeland was not prepared to take any chances … with people like me.
As previously arranged, Daphne and the children were going to Ramsgate on 1st April 1948. The medical reasons behind this journey made it possible to obtain the recently introduced ‘Exit Visa’ although, even with this permit, this planned journey was not meant to be easy.
I took my family to Prague by train, on their way to the International Airport. This train journey produced a new shock to me … when I learned that we were being followed by secret service agents! Most likely I would not have noticed but, a railway inspector on the train came to warn me. He spoke quietly and in a few words told me that he heard the agents talking at Brno, before one of them boarded the train. As I travelled in uniform, it was not difficult for the inspector to identify me as the target of this curious operation. He also gave me a brief description of my ‘tail’ so that I was able to see what is the political special agent up-to. The whole thing seemed incredible; why on earth should I be under surveillance?
Travelling in uniform with war-service ribbons made the job for my ‘tail’ quite easy. In such circumstances the game of cat-and-mouse was clearly one sided but I had no intention to change the plans to evade him. The whole idea still looked too fantastic and, ridiculous. It was puzzling why is this great effort expended on supervising me on a well declared and approved journey? Perhaps it was time for me to learn to accept the new reality; to accept the fact that in the post-February Czechoslovakia everything became warped and, nothing made sense anymore.
Immediately after my return to my office at the Brno Air Base … I was informed that I am dismissed. I have been removed from service in the Czechoslovak Air Force because of my unsuitability for commission in the new People’s Democratic Army. With this dismissal came an instruction that I was to find a job in the approved sectors as soon as possible. The Service paid me two-months salary in lieu of any claim for compensation. This sounded quite unbelievable and, it felt like, a bad dream.
The way in which I was thrown out of the Air Force, with the ominous sounding threats … left me in little doubt about my future. I also learned that there was a Government Order which restricts the possible options for civilian employment. It simply meant that I had to look for work in agriculture, forestry or coalmining. The implications were meant seriously even though I tended to refuse to accept it in such terms. I just did not want to believe it. As far as I was concerned … there is no harm in trying what can be done and, we shall see:
In spite of everything what happened, I still hoped to return to flying and my career in military aviation. The final straw however, was my last visit to the Headquarters of the Third Air Division at Brno-Slatina airfield. The purpose was to collect my belongings from my former office and, I certainly did not expect anything like a big welcome; but I hoped for a few words with the remaining colleagues.
The Sergeant at the guardroom had shown the usual polite courtesy as if I were still in the Service but, added quietly: “I hope you will not be too long, Sir; please go quickly.” Acknowledging without really understanding, I walked towards my former office. Before reaching the entrance to the office-block, the meaning of the warning became clear.
From his office window … Lieutenant Colonel Machálek, ex-RAF bomber pilot, yelled at me to leave the military area immediately! Further more, he went on shouting at the guards to remove me to the gates. At the double!
I felt speechless with this hostile treatment; somehow it was not expected. Managing just to reply: “Well, well, comrade, take it easy, I am not staying.” Then I retreated to the guardhouse and waited for an NCO to bring me the personal belongings from my former office.
While waiting at the guardroom I realised that the men were embarrassed with Machálek’s behaviour and, their sympathies were obviously on my side. But somehow, after this scene I knew that I am out. No mistake about my reality any more.
As I was walking out of the gates, all the NCO’s and guards came out of the guardroom, to give me a farewell salute. I went away as if in a dream, wondering what kind of madness had affected some people around me? It looked so un-natural, unhealthy, unreal.
The effect of being thrown out of the Czechoslovak Air Force and, the notice of possible imprisonment without a charge or a trial felt like a call for defiance. The instructions that I must take up employment in a narrowly defined field of activity started hitting me later. At first I disregarded these limitations and tried, if it can be done, to get a job in Civil Aviation or in the Aviation Industry. Alas, everywhere I went I found new people in charge. Most of these new chiefs even refused to speak to me. Where the old managers still remained (Avia,Zlín), they frankly told me that they have a directive which prohibits the employment of ex-RAF or ‘Western Orientated’ types completely and, without exception.
By the end of May 1948, with all the possibilities in aviation and engineering blocked, I had to face the brutal reality: there will not be a job for me anywhere! And, if I fail to register within the designated or approved areas of employment within another month … they will arrest me. The charge is to be my ‘unwillingness to accept honest work’. This was to be followed by an unspecified period in the newly established ‘re-education centres’. Well., at long last I had to conclude that the message was received and it sunk-in. The answer however must be: “No, thanks”
The thought of finding myself in a Red concentration camp was not attractive at all; it made me fear that this may lead to the permanent loss of freedom and in fact, to the loss of my life. These conclusions sounded dramatic, dreadful and of course, completely unacceptable. That was the time when I decided that any kind of risk may have to be taken to get away.
Very quickly I abandoned all possible plans for flying out … as completely impracticable; it would not be fair to involve other people in my departure. The various ideas of joining a group for escape sounded absolutely lunatic, even though some friends tried to suggest it to me. In fact I rejected such opinions, advice or recommendations as a sure way to disaster.
After a long and careful evaluation of all known facts I concluded that the only possibility which remains logically feasible … must be a lone crossing of the border into the Russian Zone of Occupation in Austria and, on foot. There was only one former colleague with whom I spoke and shared these conclusions and, to whom I owe thanks in the final act.
While already preparing my exit, I had to think about the secret service agents, who followed me around Brno. Their surveillance was 24 hours a day. In this aspect I could run up against a problem. However, I knew that when I obtained an official clearance to visit a prospective employer … my ‘tail’ remained at the Brno railway station and, I seemed to have been allowed to go alone; that is , as long as I kept to the strict reporting procedures. This slackening was never clarified, but it appeared to be the latest improvement.
The local Communist party youth were involved in reporting my movements; this I knew well and, they represented real danger. These youngsters were passionately dedicated to the Party. They also viewed me as an enemy and, a criminal. Any plan must therefore be preceded by a creation of complete regularity in movements around Brno and, to build an element of confidence at the Security HQ about my officially approved clearances for travel. It seemed quite obvious that they were letting me out of their sight only with some form of assurance or, they were waiting for me to do something for which an arrest warrant could be issued. These were factors to be weighed very carefully.
As it turned out, my compulsory reporting to the Air Force security remained on friendly basis and, the officer in charge appeared to be sympathetic to my problems. He even reminded me that the time is running out. I never really knew if this was a tip-off or a slip-up on his part, but his words fitted well into the overall picture.
Friends from the Flying Club tried to help too, but nobody really knew what can be done. Most of this advice was fairly naive and, uninformed. Bonék Halík and his sister (a personal secretary in the Communist Party regional headquarters), kept offering suggestions and advice on how to face the situation. She even offered to arrange a back-dated Party membership to 1945, which I felt could not work out anyway. Perhaps it was unfortunate that I remained unsure about their Party allegiance to take up any of their varied offers. Only much later, when they both arrived in exile, I was able to recognise that their offers of help were sincere.
MUDr. Sylva Vítková and her brother Dr. Miloš Vítek gave me some very valuable bits of information on which to base my departure plans.Also, there were some particularly important suggestions from Miss Marie Kopečová, the secretary in the Aero-club, which I found really useful. Eventually an old friend who worked in the Party Special Police Headquarters came to see me and spelled out my position clearly, as seen from the inside of the Party HQ. He concluded his tale of woe with a warning: there are only four days for me to mend my ways and, after this time runs out … I am in for it. The arrests of ‘Western Aviators’ are starting and I am scheduled to be taken into the custody the following Tuesday.
Immediately after this warning I decided to set into motion some false tracks which Marie suggested. I called on the supervisor of Air Force Security who was dealing with my affairs and told him that nobody wanted my services. Perhaps I should apply for a job in Black Africa, Timbuktu, South Pole or Australia? To my surprise he replied that this is exactly what he would advise me to do! Also, he rolled off the essential actions which I must take. I asked if this application should go through him or, directly to Ministry of Defence or Interior … and, he gave me a fully comprehensive explanation. I could not help thinking that he may have been anticipating this course of action. With great interest I took note of all details, the required addresses and, that it had to be in quadruplicate. Thanking him for this helpful guidance, I hurried to the Flying Club to get everything drafted and typed out as necessary.
The very same day, everything neatly typed, I sent the applications by registered mail … just as my former colleague had suggested. Because of feeling increasingly under pressure from different directions, this new ‘legal’ approach offered me more time to act and, in any case, it can do no harm.
I believed that my friend had given me true information but, with the Party Police units already arresting some of the dismissed officers … I could not be sure if I really do have four days to play with. I recalled my impressions of seeing Major Kasal after the Party Police have roughed him up and, certainly did not look forward to a similar fate.
At night I slept with my Čz 6.35 pistol under the pillow and prepared myself for a sudden attack from the political police. It was said that they usually come in the early hours and, it is essential to be prepared; to know what to expect and, what to do. This was quite a realistic evaluation and the main question centred on a detail: Should I try to shoot my way out or, do I put a bullet through my head without waiting for them to beat me to death? A combination of these options seemed logical and possible, but I had only 20 rounds of ammunition. The plan seemed fairly clear and although not finally decided … I was ready. Anyway, the main period of danger was due to start in some three days time, which gave me more time to think.
The following morning I went to see my parents in Jiříkovice, having informed my supervisor. This was to be a farewell even though it would not be said in words. I do like to have things tidy and, it seemed to be the right move anyway.
When stepping out from the bus, my eyes met a glance from an old school friend who was standing at the bus stop. He looked serious, unsmiling, and immediately gave me the impression that he may have been waiting for me. In a quiet voice but with an urgent tone he asked me to walk along with him. As soon as we distanced ourselves from other people he spoke straight to the point: “I have been hoping to see you … listen, you will be arrested next Tuesday!”
I thanked him and confirmed that I have already heard, using an old expression about sparrows on the roof; but I was grateful to him. This unexpected information from an entirely different source helped me to corroborate the previous warning. Apart from wondering how was this possible that these two completely different sources knew so exactly the planned program of the intended arrests … I realised that indeed there is no time to lose. From then on I had to assume that unless I do change the situation, they will arrest me probably in the early hours of next Tuesday morning.
By then, obviously, I must be gone!
My parents looked subdued and sad, as if they guessed that I am on my way out. I tried to sound self-confident but, sidestepping the direct question concerning my plans. They seemed relieved to see me so care-free and so full of self-assurance. My attitude that I can look after myself… come hell or high water … may have created the right impression on them.
Not stopping any longer than necessary, I took the next bus back to Brno and, without wasting any more time I finalised the departure plans. Also, I fixed the ‘zero’ hour, on which all my timing will depend.
My next task involved the surveillance organisation. There had to be one more false trail. I spoke to the Security supervisor telling him that I have just heard about two possible agricultural jobs; one in Znojmo and the other in Žilina. Could he please clear me for travel to these two places? He was very obliging and, fixed it immediately. In thanking him I promised to tell him about the outcome when I see him next time. He just wished me good luck on my travels, which sounded to me rather funny, considering what really was on my mind!
As it turned out, this ‘red herring’ trail, this stratagem worked even better than I could have hoped. It would seem that the Security Officer had covered up my absence for a number of days after I disappeared, assuring the ‘Red Gestapo’ that I must have been held up somewhere. lay the time they came to my flat … I was already safe in Vienna. The date was 14th June 1948. My planned journey started near the Brno railway station, where I hoped to see some of the remaining Air Force officers, as they are waiting for transport to the Air Base. The main purpose was just making sure that I have been seen on that day. On meeting some of the chaps I followed the plan, telling them that I am on my way to Znojmo and, going on to Žilina afterwards, enquiring about possible jobs. I counted on their discussing my predicament and my hopes of obtaining agricultural job. This should strengthen my immediate position.
With the first part of my plan successfully accomplished, I bought a return ticket for a bus to Znojmo. In case I may have been followed to the bus station, the agent would report that I had a return ticket. There were only a few people on this bus and, all of them could be safely eliminated, as being of no danger to me. In Znojmo I called in one of the Co-operative offices, enquiring about the recruiting centre for cucumber harvesting. Then I spent a little more time in a make-believe search for the office, to fill-in the excess time before moving onto the next phase.
The essential part of my plan called for the crossing of the border into Austria at 12.00 hours at Midday. That was the time the guards were changed and, all of them have gone for lunch. A friend who worked in Znojmo told me about the guards and their routine … in case I ever wanted to know. This bit of information was now very useful!
I crossed the border into the Russian Zone of Austria exactly on time, exactly in the known place where the river Dyje forms the frontier between Czechoslovakia and Austria. The various tips this friend gave me about the local topography, the shallow parts of the river and, about the adjoining Russian Occupational Zone of Austria … were not only extremely useful but, they contributed to my safe crossing of the danger zone. In fact, it all worked to perfection!
After reaching the Austrian side, my first task consisted of map reading my way into one of the local villages and, to find the home of a friendly miller. There I was assured of a brief rest before moving on. Completely without difficulties I found my way into the right village and there was no problem in locating Mr Kyánek’s house. I knew that he was a friend of Dr. Miloš Vítek, with whom he spent some time in Maahausen. The offered hospitality was sincere and generous as can be.
The following morning Nr.Kyánek briefed me for the journey to Vienna, travelling by train. He also gave me the important information on the usual position of Soviet guards and their check-points… in fact how to get safely our of the Soviet Zone into the neutral First District of the city. Then he gave me a local paper to read, or pretend to read or, behind which I could pretend to be asleep. Finally, his daughter saw me off at the local railway station, as if I were one of their city cousins.
Barely an hour later I completed the remaining journey into Vienna. The surprising thing for me was the ease of it. Travelling across the Soviet Zone and into the heart of the Austrian capital was completely uneventful.
It was a pleasant feeling to be in Vienna and, the crossing into the First District without a hitch made me feel elated. This more relaxed attitude caused me to make a mistake in counting the streets and, turning at a wrong corner. A few minutes later I realised the mistake but the idea of turning back into the Russian Sector did not appeal to me at all. Even though feeling unsure, I decided that the better option may be to keep going straight ahead. The St. Stephen’s cathedral was bound to be easy to find.
After walking the expected distance I re-assured myself that I am in the 1st Bezirk but, there was no sign of the Cathedral. Uncomfortable feeling that I am disorientated or even lost, now dampened my over confident attitude. Eventually I decided to ask for direction … hoping that this will not cause any problems.
I stopped a prosperous looking ???denizen and, in my best German asked for direction to the Innen Ministerium. To my surprise, he answered in Czech, saying that my destination is just around the next corner, barely 100 yards away. This made me feel rather foolish on two counts: had I tried a ‘square search’ … I could have found the place and also, that this Viennese had identified me the moment I spoke. To him it was quite obvious who may I be. But his smile and the ‘good luck’ parting words reassured me that there is no danger.
A few minutes later I entered the office of Insp. Pepé Pospíšil a senior security officer at the Austrian Home Office. Inspector Pospíšil greeted me warmly and also introduced me to Chief Inspector Marek, the Head of his Section. Both of them vere very kind and helpful. It made me feel that the end of the first stage of my journey to England had turned out to be an unqualified success.
Inspector Pospíšil was quick in arranging a temporary accommodation for me and, without wasting any time we set out to visit the RAF camp at the Schönbrunn Castle. It was quite obvious that help will be needed with arrangements for my flight to England and, the Royal Air Force are my old friends.
Meeting Squadron Leader Chubb and his staff was both pleasant and impressive. These chaps were really switched-on and knew all about the latest developments in Czechoslovakia. After a brief chat over a cup of tea, squadron leader Chubb took me to various offices around Vienna and helped with the arrangements for my travel documents. My papers would be ready in ten days time, so we arranged to meet on that day. This was alright with me; my accommodation with Pepé Pospíšil was available for as long as may be needed anyway.
All movements around the First District of Vienna, just the same like the adjoining British and American Sectors … were regarded as safe. This gave me a good opportunity to have a look at the historical treasures of the City. It certainly was impressive in every way, although the general picture of Vienna of that day could only be described as gray, neglected. The city of music and dance was not at its best in that post-war period.
While I was happily exploring the historical sights … the local situation took suddenly a different turn. The day before we were to visit Schönbrunn again, Pepé arrived back from his office early and, with alarming news: “The Russians have kidnapped Chief Inspector Marek!”This was not only a shock but, it made me realise that the local environment was not as safe as I may have thought. Something urgent had to be done; in fact a visit to the Royal Air Force in Schönbrunn was needed without delays.
Squadron Leader Chubb already knew about the abduction of Chief Inspector Marek and, he viewed the developments very seriously. In his assessment, my position in Vienna was less secure, in fact much more dangerous than I imagined. The Russian penetration into the Neutral Zone and the American Sector was complete. Their kidnap-squads were operating quite freely. I will just have to stay in Schönbrunn!
The evaluation was obviously correct and, I accepted this offer of hospitality with sincere thanks. Pepé Pospíšil it went back to his flat and brought me my brief-case … with all my possessions. In addition to my thanks I gave him my Čz 6.35 with ammunition. I knew that he admired this handy toy and, I did not need it any more.
Living in the Schönbrunn Palace barracks, with the Royal Air Force, made me feel at home very quickly. Lovely surroundings and a really pleasant atmosphere in every way … but, I could not help wondering: “How do I get out?” My RAF identification had helped with the required formalities at the British Embassy, but the issue of my ‘Document of Identity’ was still taking time. I am not sure what may have been the cause of this delay, but the documents and airline tickets were eventually ready on 27th July 1948.
As I was set to leave Austria, my thoughts were on how am I going to cross the Russian Zone into Schwechat Airport? Squadron Leader Chubb however worked it out for me; he arranged to take me with two of his officers and, Flight Lieutenant Brown lent me his uniform for the trip. At the airport I changed back into my own clothing and the three RAF officers came with me right into the airliner as a precaution against a last minute kidnap attempt. Everything worked out perfectly. I feel truly grateful to the Royal Air Force for looking after me with so much effort and, personal consideration.
The re-union with my family in Ramsgate gave me much pleasure and, I felt particularly happy to see them looking so well and in such excellent health. As we set out for a walk from Watchester Avenue to the West Cliff … looking across the sea to Dover … it was beautiful! Blue sea, pale blue skies and warm breeze … were the welcoming signs to a new life.
© S/Ldr Miroslav Liškutín DFC, AFC
Extract reproduced with the kind permission of S/Ldr Miroslav Liškutín DFC, AFC.