Richard Drábek

* 1929  

  • "They were taking us to those shafts by car. And imagine that fifty of us got into that car, and sometimes they took even more of us. We had to sit on the ground made of tin, sit in the snow, lie down, actually sit, sit with crossed legs, so there would get as many of us as possible. And the three policemen from National Security Corps stood above us, and that was how they were taking us from that shaft to another shaft. And we also walked across such a meadow. Imagine, it was such a case, I'll tell you we walked across a meadow like that, I don't know, it was too many kilometers. I don't know exactly how much, for how long. And there was a beautiful meadow, blooming. And I, when I looked at those flowers, I really like flowers and beautiful things. As I have been painting since I was a child, I am interested in beautiful things. So, then I asked one of the policemen if I could pluck that flower. And he said, 'But only one step. As soon as you take a second step, I'll shoot you.'"

  • "When they imprisoned my dad, I remember how the SS-men walked around in our yard. We had to note down all animals, how many eggs and fowl and milk we produced, we had to write down all this. It is a pity that we did not keep the books. Those were very large books, heavy, because we had to write down everything in detail. But we, in that post-war euphoria, destroyed everything, as we were terribly happy that all that was gone. That there would be peace and freedom and there will be wonderful life."

  • "And I just remembered that the airplanes came, that they flew above Ostrava towards that Mošnov [airport]. And boys said that they saw those tanks, how they get out of those big airplanes. It was such... such a connection. The nation connected, we were all in it, like one. Nobody was against. I never heard, nor did those engineers, communists, I never heard anyone who would praise that those Soviets came. That they came to help us.

  • "They shot some of them down, some were only wounded. They caught them and to scare us off, so that nobody would do it, they made them stand there on the bank and we had to, all night long, all the inmates, walk around them, round and round. When we passed around, we had to look left, at them. And who did not look got hit with a truncheon. Some had wellingtons on, some had leather boots. So we walked in all that mud as we walked around them. And they stood in that cold. That I remember, what a detterent example they want to set."

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A war must never be repeated

Richard Drábek during his military service at the Auxiliary Technical Batallions, 1953
Richard Drábek during his military service at the Auxiliary Technical Batallions, 1953
zdroj: archive of the witness

Richard Drábek was born on the 17th January of 1929 as the seventh child of Františka Drábková, née Nováková, and Richard Drábek. His parents were farmers. Richard Drábek‘s neighbour snitched on him because of a clandestine stash of grain. In 1942, he was sentenced as an economical war criminal, saboteur and enemy of the people for seven years in prison and he was sent to a prison in Brieg in Poland. He died after two years there. Before his death, he sent several letters to his family. In one of those, he expressed his wish that the farm would be taken over by Richard, the youngest son. Richard Drábek respected the wish of his father but his aim was disturbed by the collectivisation in 1948. In 1950, he unknowingly supplied grain infected by weevils to the co-op and consequently, he was sentenced for an alleged sabotage for 18 months of forced labour in the forced labour camp Prokop by Horní Slavkov. In 1952, he worked in cement works in Hranice and in a lime kiln in Přerov. Shortly after that, he was conscripted for the compulsory military service. At first, he served with the Signal Corps. After the platoon commander found out that Richard Drábek had been imprisoned, he was transferred to the Auxiliary Technical Batallion to Komárno in Slovakia. After he left the army in 1954, he worked in agriculture but in 1956 he surrendered the field to the co-op and started working in Ingstav Brno construction company on a site in Přerov where a water tank was being built. In 1957 he married Ludmila Nováková and they had two children, a son Richard and a daughter Ludmila. In 1960, he got a job in Rudý Říjen (Red October) mine in Ostrava where he stayed for almost 25 years until 1984. At the end of the 1980‘s, his daughter emigrated to the United States where she changed her name to Adrianne. Her house which Richard Drábek had personally built for her was confiscated by the state and the family never got it back. Richard Drábek still lives in Vinary where was born, he spends his time in his workshop or painting landscapes inspired by the surrounding countryside. Some of them were shown on an exhibition in Přerov. He is the chronicler of Vinary.