Bohumír Hájek

* 1920  

  • “We kept waiting and waiting there, and then the 1st September came. I was lying on the bed, which was by the window, and as I was looking out, I saw anti-aircraft cannons blasting on the horizon. It was about to happen; we were going to dig trenches on the outskirts of the Katowice city. Shovels over our backs, and when we were walking down the street coming from work, we were singing Czech songs, and the Poles, who were standing on the pavement, were admiring us. We were heroes already, even back then, but heroes with shovels, not with rifles. And then on 1st September, the Germans attacked Poland. What to do - we were on the borderline! Groups of twenty people each or so began to be organized immediately, and we were evacuated to the country’s interior, away from the borders.”

  • “´Was wollen Sie?´ he asked me: I replied: ´I came for the pass to enter the Protectorate.´ He said: ´Es gibts keine Durchlaßscheine,´ no passes to the Protectorate are given. I told him: ´But Mr. Hauptmann, you have promised me.´ I have never seen him in my life, and he has never seen me, and I used such a trick on him. I said: ´But you have promised this to me.´ He looked at me with suspicion, he was not sure whether he had promised it or not. He had his secretary there, and he turned to her and ordered her to write the pass for me: ´Schreiben Sie auf!´ My friend, I had my tricks for them, too!”

  • “An idealist. An idealist forever. Three of us were sitting there: me, my cousin Pepa, and Jara Berger, a friend from school. We were sitting on a bench and suddenly our talk turned to discussion that we should go abroad. The situation at that time was already such that soldiers were fleeing abroad. There were rumors that general Prchala in the Carpathian Ruthenia and his regiment crossed over to Rumania. We thought that we, boys, should go abroad, too. The patriots we were… We agreed that we would leave the country and we would try hard abroad. At that time, it was already known that legions were being formed with Prchala, or that soldiers were going to England or France. With such illusions one day we agreed that we would leave the country.”

  • “I was in such a bad state that I thought: ´Fine, so it’s over, that’s the end.´ There was the roll call in the evening, we had to stand in rows to be counted so that they could make sure that nobody escaped, and during this roll call, they were selecting specialists to go to work in Germany. I raised my hand, too. In the evening, I stepped out of the line, there was the lagerführer, certain hauptmann Kappe from northern Germany from Hamburg. He snapped at me: ´Was wollen Sie?´ I had learnt German and so I reported: ´Ich bin aus Protektorat Böhmen und Mähren, ich bin kein Soldat, ich bin Zivilist, Interniert.´ Telling him that I was interned there as a civilian. He stared at me, thinking whether he should believe what I was telling him. ´Stellen Sie sich ab!´ He ordered me to step aside. ´Delouse, and new clothes for him in the morning!´”

  • “We always had to run through the village. Soldiers were standing on the road, and along the road there were gardens with villagers. From time to time, they would throw something to us, a piece of bread, an ear of corn or a potato. But you had to run, you were not allowed to stop. I had a perfect razor, the Solingen brand. I played a trick, I pretended I was tying my shoelaces by the fence; there was some old man standing behind it. I showed him the razor and told him that I wanted bread. I threw the razor to him, he grabbed it and walked away. I kept tying my shoelaces so that the Germans would not make me run away, and waited for the bread. I thought: ´Oh God, perhaps he deceived me and now I will have to run without the razor and without the bread.´ But the old man came, he threw a small loaf of bread to me, I hid it under my shirt and started running. I was eating this bread for one week.”

  • Celé nahrávky
  • 6

    Brno, 04.04.2014

    (audio)
    délka: 03:56:58
    nahrávka pořízena v rámci projektu Stories of 20th Century
Celé nahrávky jsou k dispozici pouze pro přihlášené uživatele.

„I was bombed by Germans, Russians, and Americans, and I have survived it all.“

hajek_bohumir_portret_1940.JPG (historic)
Bohumír Hájek
zdroj: Dobová fotografie z roku 1940 je z archivu autora, současná fotografie pořízena při rozhovoru s pamětníkem

Bohumír Hájek was born June 23, 1920, in Židenice at the outskirts of Brno. Shortly after the occupation of Czechoslovakia by the German army and establishment of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, he and his two friends decided to flee Czechoslovakia to join a foreign army. They escaped to Poland via Slovakia, where they spent several weeks in prison. They eventually reached Katowice where they awaited transport to England together with other refugees. However, this never happened because Germany attacked Poland and the war broke out. They escaped eastwards and spent some time in Volhynia. From there they went to Rostov-on-Don, where they worked in the local sovkhoz. Bohumír later went to Taganrog alone, where he worked in a factory until September 1941 when Germany declared war on the Soviet Union. He joined the Red Army with several of his friends, but they were captured before they were able to reach the front. He spent the following three years in the German POW camp, Dárnice. near Kiev. At first, he was interned here as an ordinary prisoner, but when they discovered that he was able to speak German and Russian, he began working as an interpreter which probably saved his life. After his release, he was still forced to work in the prisoners‘ camp as an interpreter. At the end of 1944, he got to Poland with the retreating German army, where he deceitfully managed to obtain permission to go to the Protectorate. Before the end of 1944. he arrived at his native Brno, where he then witnessed the end of the war.