Václav Balon

* 1922  

  • "The Lagerführer was greeting us. He claimed that we had just arrived in one of the best camps. He said that the conditions in his camps were among the best and that he was a very kind chief. He wanted to prove to us that he is a kind man. There were three inmates standing closest to him in the row. One of the SS men, a young guy, took a rod that was covered by leather at one end, and he started to beat the inmates. The onslaught lasted as long as they could keep standing. One of them was an opera singer. He was singing in Veveří and he had to sing some opera, I don't recall which one it was anymore. Then the SS man stood up from them and said: 'you see how king I am. I didn't kill them, they're alive'."

  • "So a priest was taking us on a train to Slovakia to Snina, where we wanted to cross to Velká Berezná. However, things were kind of awkward there. We crossed and there were Hungarians there, still wearing their hats with the feathers. So we ran back and we ran into our gendarmes. So they took us and one of them, a young guy, promised us that they would take us across the border. But the Gestapo was already there."

  • "It was on a Sunday when they usually were putting things in order. Michálek, who was a Colonel, a commander of the unit, at that time and a General later on, was sent outside. The weather was really bad. I was ordered to be inside. I sent Michálek inside and went outside. Štubák came and that was the second time I got slapped in the face by him. He said: 'I put you here. You need to come back and tell them what happened here. That old codger won't make it anyway."

  • "It started to get tough there. When they were taking us to the cars, Tonda Bartůněk, whom we called 'sheriff', saw the Hitlerjugend. He was a funny guy and we never really knew if he was telling us the truth or if he was just joking. He said: 'Look there, it's the Boy Scouts. It's going to be alright'. And when we saw that they were loading them up. We were tied together with Tonda and there was no third prisoner left for me. In the meantime, I had bad luck again. I was at the Joseph-Bahnhofstraße at the train station, so I was with the Polizei. There, people would throw us flowers and he told me in Czech: 'take it, it won't last long. Don't be afraid'."

  • "It's hard to speak about it. We were afraid because it was apparent that two Viking divisions were supposed to destroy the camp. But they were apparently attacked by planes and they didn't get to us. Finally, the Americans came – a couple of divisions arrived. The evangelic pastor climbed up the tower and prayed. Then somebody cut the wires with a machete. There was no electricity in the wire anymore because somebody saw it and jumped into the wire."

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    Přelouč, 23.10.2012

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Even though you rejoice at being liberated, you‘ll never truly be free

Václav Balon in KT Dachau
Václav Balon in KT Dachau
zdroj: archiv a autor Václav Balon

Václav Balon was born on 13 May, 1922, in Přelouč. He was about to initiate his studies at an aviation schools, but the arrival of the German army on March 15, 1939, interrupted his plans. Together with his friends, he decided to fight against the occupation and in 1939 he began to print and disseminate anti-Nazi leaflets. They managed to keep up their illegal work until May 1940, when they discovered that the Gestapo was on their heels. They decided to flee the country via the so-called Balkan route in order to get to the Czechoslovak military units abroad. Originally, they planned to pass through Hungary, but eventually they traveled to eastern Slovakia, where, however, on June 6, 1940, they were finally arrest. After the deportation back to the Protectorate, Václav Balon was imprisoned in Horní Lideč and later in Uherské Hradiště. The interrogations took place in the castle of Špilberg in Brno and in Vienna. Eventually, he ended up in the Dachau concentration camp near Munich and was given the number 229. The next five years, he was a political prisoner. He worked on the plantations, in the wood drying room and eventually he got a job as clerk in the technical department. The Dachau concentration camp was liberated on April 29, 1945, and Václav Balon – after he had been stationed in the compulsory quarantine – finally returned to Přelouč via Prague. He then worked at a local armaments factory as a technician and later held other functions as well. In 1968, he once again decided to become involved in public life and distributed leaflets - this time in support of Alexander Dubček. Although he didn‘t pass the subsequent security vetting in the so-called „Normalization“ period, he could keep his job at the arms factory in Přerouč. Václav Balon is heavily involved in the Association of Anti-Fascist Fighters (later the Czech Union of Freedom Fighters). He currently lives in Přelouč.