Lieutenant Karel Bažant

* 1924  

  • “We came all the way to the third courtyard, and suddenly I was first again. Under the balcony by the door that leads into the palace. Well, and I guess the rulers didn’t like that, and so mounted policemen came out against us. Sabres drawn and riding alongside the buildings. In the end, I stood right under a horse by that door. And to protect ourselves, we the crowd started singing the anthem. The mounted policemen had to salute with their sabres, seeing as they already had them drawn. And in the meantime this wooden, about-six-metre-long log from the construction site opposite moved up over our heads. And bam, bam into the door. It gave in, and then IO was pushed inside by the people again. I don’t know if I was alone or if there was someone with me. But there was nowhere further to go. There were soldiers there with rifles and bayonets. Every step a row of soldiers, the people were pushing at me, and if one soldier hadn’t dodged aside, they might have even speared me. That lasted a while, and then General Syrový came out on to the balcony and started a speech. So the people backed off, and I got out again.”

  • “We were all waiting for something like this. The Červinka brothers and I, they were older boys than me, we were in touch with Police Sergeant Lukčan in Břevnov, who plotted the matter. Come 5 May, we reported to the police station, and for the whole time of the uprising we were directed by the police leadership. I have a ticket with when my military service ended in the fifties, and it says that I was kept in the lists from 6 May 1945. Nothing had happened yet, but I was already listed as a soldier.”

  • “While the trial was taking place, my wife, her father, my father, and my brother were outside in the corridor. They were waiting for the result. When we came out of the courtroom, I stopped in front of them. We talked, and when the assessor came out - he was a major - he told my wife: ‘Go to the prosecutor and beg him.’ So my wife went to Prosecutor Burýšek. She was never able to say what she told him. Perhaps she just cried herself out. A while later they came for me in my cell, told me to pack my things and get out. In other words, the prosecutor abandoned his appeal request, and I was free.”

  • “There was a call appealing to anyone who was interested to pursue aviation to report in Nusle at the school building. The Germans were evacuated from the school and we moved in there. Our commander was Air Force Lieutenant Štangl. We were about sixty people there, usually those who had been employed as slave laborers in the aeronautical industry during the war or those who were interested in aviation. We were soon joined by other boys who said that they were from the intelligence brigade. In total we were about a hundred men strong. We were called the Aviation Troop of the Emergency Regiment but we didn’t know that.”

  • “The plan was to take the two storks [the popular plane Fieseler Fi 156 Storch]. We also had the possibility to take the Pipers [the Piper Cub airplane] if there had been more colleagues interested in fleeing. Everything was ours, there was no one there. Whoever was on duty owned the airport. I even greased the hangar doors so that it could have been operated by a single person. Velvarský and Kolínský were to pilot the planes. Velvarský was supposed to be assisted by the mechanic Otto Lenz since he didn’t know the plane. Lenz would act as the flight engineer and Velvarský could thus pay attention to flying the plane. I was supposed to be on board of Kolínský’s plane with his wife. Velvarský’s wife was should have been on board with him.”

  • “All of our friends from airports in Brno or Budějovice were rising up as well as my colleagues. Kolínský had an English wife, Velvarský just got married. So we agreed that we’d go too. We wanted to join the army in England and give the Bolshevik a proper beating from there, kicking them out of Czechoslovakia. We assumed that there would be war soon. Everybody assumed it.”

  • “Someone said: ‘let’s march to Castle’ and so we did. The gate was closed but the square was full of protesting people. At that moment I stood at the gate. Someone told me to climb up the gate and release the latch. I obeyed him, even though there were legionaries with rifles guarding the gate. The moment I released the latch, the crowd pushed against the gate and it suddenly opened while I was still on the top of the gate. The gate slammed into a lamp and broke it. I was covered with glass splinters and for a moment I thought that I’d die there, that it would crush me, too. But I just shook off the broken glass and before I even realized it, I found myself being carried away to the second courtyard by the crowd. I stood under the balcony close to the door. I think that it was the plan of the Communists to push the children forward to the front rows. I was then fourteen years old. Suddenly police officers on horseback lined up along the wall. I stood right underneath one of the horses. The crowd began to sing the national anthem. The police officers salute with their sabers. After the national anthem had been played, a wooden log was passed to the front above our heads. It was taken from the excavation pits that were all around the courtyard at that time. They knocked out the gate with the log and the crowd pushed me forward again. I was inside the castle. But the crowd was stopped by a cordon of soldiers holding rifles with mounted bayonets. The people in the back kept pushing those in the front forward and if the soldier hadn’t sidestepped, he would have pierced me with his bayonet. Actually General Syrový who climbed on the balcony and started his speech saved my life.”

  • “For me, it all ended well and thus I and my wife always used to say that what happened must have been some kind of a miracle. Maybe it was the Tadeášek – a saint who has a church and a statue in its courtyard on the Republic Square. He was very busy at that time. Mothers and wives of the arrested ones came to pray there for their loved ones and put coins in the money box there. We said that it was a miracle that I escaped that way! In 1985, I was in hospital and as we chatted there one of the other patients said that he knew a major who told him that he had been at a military court and had helped the convicts there. I asked for his name and he said that his name was Dvořák. So that was the miracle. Judge Dvořák!”

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I wanted to become a pilot but eventually I became a member of the National Police Corps

Karel Bažant 007.JPG (historic)
Lieutenant Karel Bažant
zdroj: archiv Karla Bažanta, Eye Direct

Karel Bažant was born in Prague on October 21, 1924. After he completed elementary school he served an apprenticeship in a car workshop in Břevnov. During the Munich crisis in 1938, on September 21, at the age of fourteen, he took part in a demonstration at the Hradčanské náměstí Square and was trailed by the crowd all the way to the interior of the Prague Castle. During the war, he was assigned as a slave laborer in the German company Walther Bachmann. He took part in the Prague May 1945 uprising and fought at Břevnov and at Bílá hora. In 1945, he joined the aerial patrol of the National Police Corps (SNB) as a first-class technician and later served as the flight technician. After his training in Prague and in Zbiroh, he served in Brno, České Budějovice and in Karlovy Vary. He was also sent on a mission to Slovakia (Košice, Prešov) to fight against Ukrainian nationalists (supporters of Stepjan Bandera) and was stationed in north-Bohemian Varnsdorf to take part in overseeing the deportation of the German population. On September 11, 1948, Karel Bažant was arrested while trying to cross the state border. Together with Miroslav Kolínský, Bohuslav Velvarský and Otta Lenz, they planned to fly to England where they wanted to join the army and as pilots fight against the Soviet Union in a war they believed was imminent. However, their attempt to escape was revealed even before they were able to carry it out. Luckily, Karel Bažant was able to walk away from the trial with being acquitted. Even though he was acquitted by the court for insufficient evidence, he was dismissed from the police corps.  Since 1948, he thus had to work with construction machines. His career in the budget planning center of the Ministry of Construction was interrupted by the security screenings that followed in 1970 in the period of the Normalization. After 1989, he strove for the installation of a memorial plaque to commemorate the members of the SNB who had been executed in the beginning of the 1950s. The plaque is located in the entrance hall of the Police Presidency of the Czech Republic.