Brigadier General (ret.) Alexander Beer

* 1917  †︎ 2015

  • “We were brought up in the First Republic era, in the democratic spirit of its representatives. Beginning with the grammar school, we were being imbued with great patriotism. We were not just studying history, we were literally cramming it. I remember that we went to see a film about colonel Švec as part of our history class. The film still exists. With our history class, we went to the cinema to see a film about legionnaires. Throughout the third year, we were learning about our country, the first resistance movement, the war, our legionnaires in Russia, legionnaires in France. We travelled to Topoľčanky to visit Masaryk. It was within us and it remained in us. I think that no civics and education about our homeland exist today.”

  • Czechoslovaks eating dogs in Buzuluk

  • “We longed to fight. When we went to Sokolovo, we were rather celebrating our departure as we boarded the train. We were rejoicing. When we were taking the oath and listening to the anthem, which was in Buzuluk and it was 25 below zero, we were crying and tears were streaming down our faces and turning into icicles.”

  • “At Sokolovo I served as a commander of a mortar squad. I participated in the defence of Sokolovo. But what is not mentioned much is that after the defence of Sokolovo in the evening we attacked, and I was wounded.”

  • “I have killed, well, hundreds of them, and I’m not saying that to boast. I didn’t feel sorry for them. I drove the tank to a defence position and I was firing around me till all of them kicked the bucket. I didn’t count them, but I have killed them. One day I captured a colonel, offered him to the Russians, and they didn’t want him. So I told them: ´Shoot him then.´”

  • Interviewer: “How about your personal memories of Dukla?” A.B. “Terrible, terrible… I’m crying. That desire to cross the border and get there. This was an honour to all of the participants of the fighting at Dukla. To cross the border. To arrive to the liberation, to reach home.”

  • “I was shaving and suddenly I hear a boom boom boom. I thought: ´Christ, he’s left the German frequency there.´ (they had a radio in the factory, where they listened to German broadcast – auth.´s note). And again, boom boom boom, Sondermeldung, special news. What’s going on? It took some five or ten minutes, I don’t know, just boom boom boom, and Sondermeldung again. And suddenly there were the words: crossing the border and war with the Soviet Union, June 22. This was a terrible shock.”

  • Celé nahrávky
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    Praha, Hotel Legie, 13.01.2010

    délka: 02:21:32
    nahrávka pořízena v rámci projektu Memory of the Nation: stories from Praha 2
Celé nahrávky jsou k dispozici pouze pro přihlášené uživatele.

War is war, everything is allowed

Colonel in retirement Alexander Beer was born February 7, 1917 in Vranov nad Topľou in Slovakia. He studied grammar school and a higher school of textile industry in Brno. Before the occupation he was employed in the industry and in 1939 he decided to escape to England via Switzerland. He was arrested on the Swiss border, imprisoned in Germany for three weeks and then deported to Prague. This however didn‘t prevent him from another escape, this time to Poland. There he met his brother who then fought in the western army in Dunkerque in 1944. After the attack on Poland, Alexandr Beer escaped to the Soviet Union with a group one of whose members was Communist senator Antonín Zmrhal. It was probably thanks to him that the Russians treated the group of refugees well and after a week of interrogations and a three-week internment in the village of Opalicha they offered them work. Alexandr Beer took a job in the textile industry and he began working in a factory south of Moscow. After June 22, 1941, when the Soviet Union was attacked by Germany, he went to Karagand in Kazakhstan, where he worked in the textile industry as well. As soon as he learnt about Svoboda‘s army, which was being formed in Buzuluk, he decided to move there. He even had to write a letter to colonel Svoboda in order to be released from the factory in Karagand and allowed to join Svoboda‘s army. He took part in the fighting for Sokolovo, where he served as a commander of a mortar squad. He was wounded for the first time here and he got to a hospital in Michurinsk. After his recovery - probably by mistake - he got to Kursk where the greatest tank battle was fought. Alexandr Beer was however sent to the staff and thanks to his knowledge of foreign languages he served as an interpreter during interrogations of German officers. Then he got to Novochopersk to the Czechoslovak soldiers. He took part in the battles for Kiev, Bílá Cerekev, and Zhashkov, where he served as tank commander. After their arrival to Volhynia he was sent to Sadagura as a commander of a tank training centre for Volhynian Czechs. He took part in the Carpathian-Dukla operation, where he was wounded again in Nižný Komárnik, and in the Ostrava operation. In 1946 he demobilized. After the war he began working in the company Centrotex and in 1951, even though he had become a member of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia before, he was arrested for 48 hours. Although this was then recognized as a mistake, he was not allowed to leave his house for two weeks or to make any phone calls. He terminated his contract with Centrotex, but he continued working in the textile industry. In 1968 he was expelled from the Party, but in spite of that he got a job at the Ministry of Industry. After the Velvet Revolution he began working in a multinational company and he thus retired as late as 2005. He was the vice-chairman of the Czechoslovak Association of Legionnaires. Died in in december 2015.