Vilém Dvořák

* 1921  †︎ 2009

  • “England wasn’t ready for the war. But unlike France, there was complete rule of order. They took perfect care of us. With the Englishmen’s calmness, so to speak. There was talk of 500 and also of 390 soldiers, former Spaniards, who protested the behavior of English officers. They were complaining that some of them had relatives, emigrants in France, and that they received privileged treatment and that they were snobbish. I cannot confirm that, however.”

  • “Our director, professor Drahný (a Russian legionary) knew what the situation in the Hlučín region was like. Thanks to him I got involved in the resistance movement for the first time. Before and during the mobilization we were filling sacks with grain on one large landed estate near Kravaře to prevent it from falling into German hands. The army was shipping it to the interior of the country. We all expected that war would break out. It didn’t come immediately, but I had trouble anyway. I had political trouble, not with the future Germans occupiers, but with the locals. I was threatened with annihilation. I was forced to leave on October 8, 1938.”

  • “The deputy of my superior sent me and some guy by the name of Kolarčíka to the unit which was deployed a few kilometers away. It was already getting dark when we were stopped by someone shouting “Hold!”. We identified ourselves and Kolarčík started to chat with the soldiers. One of them said: “We were actually ordered to shoot at anybody coming from your direction.” Fortunately, it was Kolarčík’s friend so they recognized each other’s voice. Both came from the Těšín region and had a Polish accent. So we accomplished our mission and went back.”

  • “I left on Christmas time in 1939. As it was no longer possible to flee through Poland, I chose the common route through Slovakia, Yugoslavia, Greece, Turkey, Syria, and Lebanon. In Hungary we got caught at an identification check on a train. We were arrested for three weeks. Then we thought that they’d take us to the Yugoslav border, but actually the police were playing cat and mouse with us. In fact, we were close to the German border at a village called Hegyeshalom. This village is located about 10 kilometers away from Bratislava.”

  • “I was the leader of a Cromwell tank platoon. In March I was assigned to an English infantry unit which also included the FFI - the young volunteers. My platoon operated in the flooded areas of Dunquerke. The Germans opened the floodgates at high tide whereby they managed to flood vast areas. We couldn’t even dig a trench as it was instantly flooded by water.”

  • “In the village Roquefort I was attached to a motorized company. By the end of May 1940, two regiments went to the front. This, however, was a withdrawal operation. We were retreating because we faced the risk of encirclement from the Germans. We were withdrawing to southern France. My opinion of the French at that time was very low. They didn’t take the war seriously, and chaos prevailed everywhere.”

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    Opava, 17.11.2004

    délka: 01:11:25
    nahrávka pořízena v rámci projektu Stories of 20th Century
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The French didn’t take the war seriously There was disorder everywhere France and England were not prepared for war But contrary to France, the British were able to maintain complete order and calmness

317-portrait_present.jpg (historic)
Vilém Dvořák
zdroj: archiv pamětníka

Vilém Dvořák was born on January 23, 1921 in Chlebičov. He was raised in the spirit of Czech patriotism. He attended elementary school in Chlebičově and high school in Opava. He wanted to become a professional soldier. As a patriot, he often had trouble in the Hlučín region, so he decided to move to Opava. But not even Opava was completely safe. At Christmas time, he and three of his friends fled from the republic. Their escape route led to Slovakia, Hungary and Yugoslavia. Mr. Dvořák also got to Greece, Turkey, Syria and Lebanon. In 1940 he finally got to Marseille in longed-for France. Here he participated in combat as a member of a scout unit. After the defeat of France he got to Britain. Once in Britain, he took another training and graduated. In March 1945, he fought at Dunquerke with an English infantry unit. With this unit he operated in the flooded areas around Dunquerke until the end of the war. After his return home he had trouble with the Communist party, lost his job, and was under constant surveillance.