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Pavel Čermák (1957) - Biography

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They thought they had attacked Poland

Pavel Čermák was born on 9 April 1957 in Hradec Králové. After graduating from
the School of Law of Charles University in Prague, he began his compulsory
military service with the 21st Tank Regiment in Žatec on 1 December 1980. He was
immediately made commander of the 1st Platoon and second-in-command of the
3rd Company. Five days later the Czechoslovak People's Army geared up for the
Krkonoše field exercise, which was to demonstrate that the Warsaw Pact forces
were prepared to intervene against anti-Socialist groups in Poland. These were
mainly members of the ever-growing independent trade-union movement
Solidarność (Solidarity). Rumours spread among the soldiers of an attack on
Poland, and although the main part of the 21st Tank Regiment did not participate in
Operation Krkonoše in the end, the soldiers were kept in a state of combat
readiness for several days. Pavel Čermák remembers that he was worried about
the Poles offering armed resistance, he did not sleep properly for several days, and
images of him shooting at innocent civilians tormented his mind. After completing
military service he went through several jobs in the legal profession, and after the
fall of Communism he briefly did business. He still lives in Hradec Králové.

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