“I joined the regiment. For two years I served there as the commander of the 1st reconnaissance battalion. After two years I became the staff commander and I served in this position as the regiment’s staff commander until 1969. The regiment was disbanded in 1969. I got transferred to Prostějov to the 22nd parachute regiment, which was basically the same as in Holešov, but with a few extra soldiers from the former paratrooper army – the traditional paratroopers. But the mentality of the staff was quite different… But nobody in Prostějov understood it. All the people were wondering what kind of so-called paratroopers had arrived there, but they were simply no paratroopers at all; they were just soldiers trained for intelligence and sabotage tasks. The reason I was there in 1969 and 1970 was just to prepare their training, and so on. The political screening committee of the western army circle found me unacceptable, and in 1971 I was dismissed from the army.”
“Some people claim it was around seven and some that around eleven. Well, it was around that time, it was simply in the morning. That part of the regiment arrived in front of the barracks, the tanks aimed their cannons at the barracks, and… nothing was happening. We thus had to take the initiative. We, well, Mr. Košan, the regiment’s commander, to be precise, and Mirek Šedina, who was a Russian academy graduate and who could speak Russian perfectly, strapped on their gun holsters and stepped out of the barracks. The first reaction of the Soviet commander was: why do they have their guns? They replied: then why are you aiming at our barracks with your tanks, since there is no counterrevolution at all, so turn those tanks away. They said that they would use their weapons in case something happened. Šedina then replied that they were of course free to do it, but that they would need to know that this regiment was armed with anti-tank weapons and that at the order of the regiment’s commander they would be aimed at them from every window, and then destroy and crush his battalion. Since he knew the conditions in the Soviet army, Šedina also threatened the Soviet battalion’s commander that he was not sure how his superior division commander would like it when this battalion commander came to report to him that his entire battalion had been destroyed in front of the Holešov barracks. The tension then slightly abated…”
“All this culminated on August 21, when at about two o’clock in the morning I got a call from Vladimír Koša, the regiment’s commander, who told me: ‘Occupation is taking place. Warsaw Pact armies have illegally entered the territory of the Czechoslovak Republic, go to the army barracks.’ I thus drove to the barracks and the other officials, including the political officer, have already gathered there. We didn’t know much, only what we could learn from the radio. Nobody in the administration office knew anything, because nobody there had time to discuss what would happen with the regiment. We thus basically followed the command of our country’s president, who urged people to keep calm. He warned against acts of violence as well as against conceding to their demands… Mirek Šedina, the former commander of the regiment, then arrived to the barracks; he already served in the intelligence administration office at that time. We decided that in the first place we needed to find out what was happening around us. We thus dispatched guards to the environs of Holešov to learn who was actually where. That was because we saw, and because our anti-aircraft monitoring stations also reported, that some airplanes had flown from the direction of Gottwaldov towards Brno, but there was not a single soldier present anywhere yet. We thus listened to the radio to find out what was happening where. We didn’t learn much, you know how those radio broadcasts were… But we remained calm. In the morning after the wake up call, we had all the soldiers assemble there. We informed them about the situation and told them that we would wait and see how the situation would develop. There was no stand-by regime; we only told them that for the time being there would be no training, and if there was, it would be only inside the barracks, and not outdoors in order not to attract their attention. It was also declared that nobody would enter the barracks.”
“This is another story, and it often gets forgotten... Basically, their training drew upon the training of paratroopers’ groups in England. Sometimes they are called commandos. But it was not like the commandos, and with regard to such so-called humanitarian measures the training was not even that tough, either, compared to the basic training of troops in England which were trained to become sabotage and sometimes terrorist groups that were to be sent here from the West. Groups like that were being sent here from the east as well, but very little was known about their activities. A brigade was formed in Prešov in addition to the 22nd parachute regiment. A force recon column was formed within this brigade, then a battalion was formed, and after its dislocation to Holešov a parachute regiment was formed. I received an offer to go serve in this regiment. I gladly accepted it, because back at the time before I had even started my basic military service in the 1950s, I had been attending training sessions of Sokol paratroopers in Brno, where we practiced all the things that were done here, such us rope training, obstacle course, jumps from springboards… basically the entire training for paratroopers. But I have not done any real jumps from airplanes because I left the army. Therefore I was happy to accept the offer. I was sent for a course in Luštěnice... “
“Then we invited them to come inside to the regiment commander’s office. All the officials were there. They said that they arrived because of the counterrevolution. We said that there was no counterrevolution here. We didn’t let them… only these people entered the barracks, nobody else. And then they asked the obligatory question, which was basically like a watchword: if answered positively, it would be interpreted as a sign of welcome, and if declined, then the army unit would be regarded as standing on the counterrevolutionary side. ‘Where can we get water here?’… there is a song about it: Cossacks drink water from the Moldau River, and then there will be peace in Bohemia. We replied that there was no water available for them in the barracks, and that the closest place where they could get water was at the airport. They thus left the barracks and at first they positioned themselves at the outskirts of Holešov in the direction of Přílepy and then they built a camp for themselves next to Přílepy, which is in the forest about three kilometres from Holešov.”
Jiří Dufek, a colonel in retirement, was born on 24th April 1932 in Střelice near Brno. He spent part of his childhood in Jasina in Carpathian Ruthenia, where his father was posted as an employee of the Czechoslovak Railways. Influenced by his personal and family background as well as by World War Two, Jiří joined the army in 1951 after his graduation from grammar school. From 1954 to 1957 he studied at the Military Political Academy of Klement Gottwald in Prague. In the early 1960s he was appointed the commander of the 7th parachute regiment in Holešov. This regiment was the only army unit in Czechoslovakia that actively resisted the occupation of the country by the Warsaw Pact armies in 1968. Owing to his direct participation, during the subsequent normalization period Jiří began to be regarded by the political regime as an untrustworthy anti-Communist and in 1971 he was dismissed from the army. He then moved from Moravia to Prague, where he worked as a civilian employee in the company Metrostav until his retirement. In the early 1990s he was rehabilitated and promoted and he received a decoration. Jiří Dufek died on October 30, 2018.