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Mgr. Jan Kozák (1951) - Audio/video gallery


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Forced labour at the steelworks

“Then they took me to Dříň Camp, that’s an auxiliary of Vinařice near Kladno, and that was really hard labour. It nearly did me in, in fact I’d say I survived it by a miracle. Because they assigned me to the furnace in Rolling Mill Four, I took out billets from the furnace. It was a terribly unpleasant job, that’s why they gave it to the mafdos [an approximation of ‘mukl’, an acronym meaning ‘man for disposal’, a slang term for political prisoners - transl.]. I then took this incandescent billet, with a temperature of some one and a half thousand degrees [Celsius], and transported it using a medieval apparatus - a huge iron wheel and these long pliers, beams, and I took that at a run to the first roll stand. Another twenty mill operators were waiting for me, so when I had a delay, they got nervous because they needed to earn money. I worked there with the added bonus that, as a political enemy of the state, I had another ten duties for when I got back to my room, so it didn’t take long, some two three months, and they made a complete wreck of me. I collapsed, I fell unconscious at work, I still remember that my last thought when I was dying there, which is odd, was that I kept repeating: ‘There is no God, there is no God.’ So then they took me to a civilian hospital, where they brought me back to life after some forty-eight hours of unconsciousness, and after that they assigned me to the bricklayers outside, that wasn’t so drastic, so I waited out my term there.”

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