Oldřich Halad

* 1922  †︎ 2010

  • “There was a strong Polish community in Skřečov. They controlled everything they could and gave some Czechoslovak or Czech citizens written notices within twenty-four hours. Those who did not move out were called to a place which belonged to the Polish police. They had to take off their trousers there and he got twenty-five thwacks with a stick. Then a hay-wagon was brought to their houses, all their possessions were taken and they went to the border. Then, you could do anything you liked there – to cross the border to the Protectorate. The vast majority of citizens left Bohumín area that way, which basically meant all the intelligence – professors, doctors, teachers, directors, businessmen, the Czechs, Sokol members, Orel members. They left Bohumín area and those who remained there were mainly workers and also those who had good neighbors not revenging on them but protecting them.”

  • “The old, children and women were carted off, men remained in small numbers. All of a sudden it was as if there were no German soldiers, only the old, the young and old women. They were hidden in forests or ran away to Germany as they didn't want to have anything in common with the Republic. I eventually found out as it is said, it happened in a wild way... It could have happened at the beginning when individuals having nothing to do with the Czechoslovakia liberation, took over the power in the cages. They did all they wanted there. It depended very much on the people who were there. When there was a good man, the displaced Germans had more or less good times. But when there was a humankind scum, he behaved accordingly.”

  • “They bombarded the hospital – there was also a railway station there, so they bombarded both the hospital and the railway station. I managed to hide in an air-raid shelter. Then, when it was all over, the whole hospital department was totally demolished, all the buildings and everything. Those who could still walk and were a bit healthier, those got on top of the hill above the hospital. We saw an invasion in Salerno from there – Naples and steaming Vesuvius on the left hand side, on the right hand side there was the sea and many ships, hundreds of ships, we saw only little clouds of steam. We were happy that the invasion was there, that we could run over to the other side.”

  • “It's a real toil, it's toil from dawn to dusk, which is worthless. All the war decorations are useless at the time you are doing it. You are not doing it because of the decorations themselves but because of the bunch of guys who are out there, who fight against the enemy in order to win or not to lose.”

  • “The four or five years after the Nazi arrival were long enough to evert thinking of all pupils who attended Czech schools and who were not told about Czech history at home. It was compulsory for them to be Hitlerjugend members, they had to sing songs, put their hands up and heil. That was the way to Germanize Czech boys who were later drafted to the German Armies.”

  • “The feelings towards those who were transported got simply lost. It happened so because we were busy with our own troubles, we were worried to find our relatives so that we could allocate those who came with empty hands. All those Jews were soldiers who experienced the war, who left the Republic, who returned and found no families, nothing. There was no mercy on those who should have been displaced. It was totally out of the question. It was a kind of a double sword. If there was anyone pointing at that, there was an answer for him: 'Where would you be now in case they had won?' Eventually, the displacement simply happened without any deep considerations of its bringing any injustice to the others.”

  • “I spent one more night up there and I went down the next morning and I stood by them. They were fixing a tank there and were repairing a bridge so that the tank didn't break. That was why they were making it stronger. I spoke to one of the Englishmen: 'Io ceco' (I'm Czech) and he didn't reply. He gave me a cigarette. I lit the cigarette even if I didn't smoke. I said again: 'Io ceco, ceco, cecoslovak...' (I'm Czech, Czech, Czechoslovak...) Then he gave me a piece of chocolate and he kept on doing something. Then came a jeep with a leader. They were talking with each other about this and that. I went to the leader and I said: ' Ich bin Deutsch, deutsch Soldat' (I'm German, a German soldier) and 'Czechoslovakia.' I stopped and I repeated it once more. Then he took out a pistol right away. They frisked me just in case I had a weapon. I got into the jeep and they took me to the Allies' Headquarters.”

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    Ostrava, 29.06.2004

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„All war decorations are useless at the time you are doing it.“

Oldřich Halad was born in Salesian Ostrava on October 4, 1922. He studied at a seven-year Military Music School in Prague from which he was dismissed in the autumn of 1938. When he was on his way home from the Czechoslovak Army to Ostrava after Munich, he was arrested by some Polish soldiers and taken to a provisional prison in Bohumín. But during the transport, he managed to flee home to Skřečoň. He was not allowed to stay there though. Then he returned to the Protectorate and he got home only after two months - as a civilian this time. He was forced to work in Bohumín Ironworks. On July 1, 1942, he was sent to the 26th Tank Division at the German front. He did training in France and served in Italy. However, he managed to desert to the Allies. He was transported to Liverpool where he served in the forming of the 1st Czechoslovak Independent Armoured Brigade. He served as a signalman in Dunkirk with this troop until the end of the war. After the war, he worked as a national administrator in Karviná. Since 1949, he earned his living as a miner in Jáchymov. He died in 2010.