Jiří Beránek

* 1935  

  • “Once, an order arrived for us to raise a small swastika flag. The Nazis organized a march with drums and flutes, as they used to do it. We used to join them sometimes and sing their song: Hajdi, hajdu… We used to sing along as boys. Back then, each of us received a small pennant and they filmed the parade. It was a teaser to show how things were here, that the Czechs were with the Nazis and so on. I remember hanging out there while my daddy folded the flag and put it in between the gates. Some SS-man saw it, called up another one, he got off his bike and unfolded the flag. Mrs. Ryzá across the street whose husband was in prison at that time did not raise anything. So they smashed her windows with a spike. Does she have a flag? Yes. So she has to raise it!”

  • “Our manager – his name was Truhlář – came over in the morning sometime after the putsch of 1948, telling us: ‘New policies are being pursued. We shall address each other informally and call each other comrade. So I warn you that whoever says ‘you, comrade’ will be sent to the caretaker who will beat him up well so that he’d remember. There will be no ‘comrades’ here.’ His brother was a pilot fighting in England. There is a book on that. He came from Lomnice nad Popelkou. He was even shot down, returning seriously burnt. He then told us – and I also found it on the internet – that he rode a train and since he was burnt some old woman told him that he shouldn’t make himself seen to the public. He was in a plane crash. So this was that manager’s brother. And that’s why the manager prohibited calling each other ‘comrade.’”

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    Praha, 09.12.2015

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My father said that politics is dirty. And I was done for at school

Beránek Jiří, 1955, in the army
Beránek Jiří, 1955, in the army
zdroj: Archív pamětníka

Jiří Beránek was born on 3 April 1935 in Trávčice near Terezín. He grew up there, witnessing the transports of Czechoslovak Jews and many events related to the life in the Jewish ghetto. Since 1946 he was attending school in Terezín. He and his friends would play in abandoned houses and search for stuff left behind by the prisoners. Following this adventurous childhood he trained to work in the Rudý Letov company, soon transferring to Aero Vodochody. There he has worked for over sixty-two years. He became a respected expert on airplane repairs. His job included frequent travels in order to repair airplanes constructed in Aero and then exported abroad. During communist times he thus had the opportunity to visit Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Algeria and other countries. Each one of his travels had to be permitted by the company‘s Communist Party committee since he himself refused to become a member of the party.