Zdzisław Antoni Bykowski

* 1947

  • "They shot at me. I was on guard in a lit space between the tanks and suddenly - two or three shots from a distant bush, probably from an automatic weapon. Instintively, I fell to the ground between the... of the tanks and cocked my gun. My colleague who was awake in a tank calmed me down. He asked from where they shot so I showed him. He turned the tank tower in that direction and shot a few times from the machine gun in that direction. In the morning, the Czechs made a huff for unauthorised usage of teh machine gun. Even our army attache from Prague arrived. The committee went there and they found empty shells from an old machine gun. Apparently, someone had been there and they had shot at us. So at the end, there might be no Bykowski."

  • "After a week or two, they ordered us to get a machine gun on the SKOT armoured vehicle. I was sitting at the back of the SKOT and I was loading the 13,5 mm cartridges into the... And I felt that someone was watching me and I looked over my shoulder and it was Zdeněk. We don't know what to say. Who for am I getting ready? He started explaining it away, that we are just soldiers, it's orders but it was... We went silent and then one of us said: Let's have a cig. Well, so..."

  • "About twenty of us were sent back to Gubin, allegedly as a punishment. What the political educators hinted was that it was because we debated all the things, we had our opinions, every now and then we disagreed with something, we made fun of the propaganda, the flyers they distributed among people, about our brotherly help. That was disgusting. So maybe we were disciplined for this. But it was no punishment, it was a win because we did not have to pack the camp and clear it up all. And four of us from our unit did not get a personal thank-you note from the commander, general Siwicki. It was no big loss."

  • "I knew I was taking part in something vile and disgusting but people came to bid their cordial good-byes. They would give us cakes, fruit preserves, sweets, older ladies even made the sign of the Cross on our foreheads. I didn't understand it but the shameless propaganda worked and it presented us as if we were going to a war."

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    Lubań, 26.06.2021

    délka: 01:24:13
    nahrávka pořízena v rámci projektu Stories of the 20th Century TV
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I know I was taking part in something vile.

Zdzisław Bykowski in 1973
Zdzisław Bykowski in 1973
zdroj: Zdzisław Bykowski

Zdzisław Antoni Bykowski was born on the 11th of September in 1947 in Olsztyn in Northern Poland and he grew in the town of Ełk in the Masuria region. In 1967, he and his parents moved to Lubań, a town close to both East German and Czechoslovak borders. In autumn 1967, he was drafted for the mandatory army service and in August 1968, he entered Czechoslovakia as a member of the Gubin tank unit. For two months, he guarded the Soviet-occupied army airstrip in Milovice. He was sent back to Poland after two months, before the Polish army withdrew from Czechoslovakia, in a disciplinary action. After having served his term, he returned home, got married and started a family, he worked as a clerk in the Lubań textile plant. In 1972, he started a new job as a worker in a basalt quarry in Lubań. In September 1980, he established Solidarność, the independent trade unions in the quarry and became a Solidarność activist in Lubań and adjacent areas. Shortly after martial law was enacted in Poland in 1981, he was arrested and interned for several months. He lived under surveillance of the Polish secret police until the fall of the Communist regime and until the first free elections in June 1989, in which Solidarność won. In free Poland, he started taking part in the local politics in Lubań, later, he established a construction firm. In 2008, he retired and wrote a book of memories of the times of the invasion to Czechoslovakia. In 2021, he lived in Lubań.