“It was an infantry division, not a navy one. It was called the Signal Division. It was commanded by an officer of the General Staff in Dejvice. So I applied there. When the republic began preparing a civilian defence - those call stations in Prague - it equipped them with military telephones. And I joined in just when this division was installing the call stations and connecting them, that is, wiring up Prague. In the end, when the Germans came, a group within the division began making transmitters. I wasn’t in that group, but I know that they charged me with buying radio components in shops and bringing them to them - without inciting suspicion. Unfortunately, I soon found in the newspapers, when the Germans were already here, that some of them had been arrested and executed. So I destroyed all traces of my participation in the division. I didn’t want to get my family into a bad situation.”
“So we became friends with the chaplain, Doctor Petřek. He was another of my... not stumbling blocks, but a risky step, because there were paratroopers hiding there. I didn’t know they were there. He didn’t give it away. He hid them, cared for them. He brought them food, took out their faeces. And one time he mentioned, without saying that they were hidden under the church: ‘I’m looking for a change of lodging [for the paratroopers - ed.].’ So I searched around Stromovka. When I told him I reckoned there might be a suitable place in Stromovka - it was an old mill, later used as a switching station, I think - he said: ‘No need any more. They’re moving tonight.’ Except they were found out in the night and the firing began. So I was in danger of this kind again.”
“It was still under the Communist regime. You weren’t allowed out. You weren’t allowed to sail abroad. But they made an exception that time, seeing that it was the anniversary and there was to be a race. We transported twelve boats to the Danube back then. Down the Danube to Bulgaria and the sea, the Black Sea. Then we sailed across the Black Sea to Constantinople. It was a lovely voyage. It lasted long, it was interesting. All the boats managed it, survived in good health... and came back.”
“And then Czechoslovakia became occupied by the Soviet army. Three personnel officers from three Berlin companies then came there – I remember that one of them was from some construction company, but I don’t know about the others. They declared that we were interned there and that we were to await further orders and that we were not allowed to return home. The local Germans, the members of the club Fraternitas, took fantastic care for us. (…) We were not allowed to leave the premises of the club. But they knew ways how to get out of the club unnoticed, and they were taking us to their families, which obviously made us very happy, because in their homes they turned on the Berlin television, the one from West Berlin. On the Western TV we saw tanks riding through the Wenceslas Square and shooting. This made us even more determined to get back home. I remember that I tried to get some information or request our immediate return from the Czechoslovak Embassy in Berlin, but I didn’t even get there at all. The embassy, although it was a Czechoslovak territory, was taken over by the German police, the windows were smashed, because they had apparently thrown somebody out of the window or what not, and they simply took over the embassy and they did not let anyone in.”
“At that time, only trains bound for the war front were going there. They carried ammunition or supplies. The train cars did not have windows and doors any more, they were all broken as a result of shooting from airplanes. When the train cars they were returning, they were empty. We used these trains to move from one city to another. (…) The cities had been destroyed by bombing, including the train stations and railroads. The trains were thus always shuttling only between one city and another. Then we had to walk through the city, and it was a terrible sight to see the destroyed city. When we crossed the city, there was another train, which was bound for the front and filled with supplies. This way we made our way back and we got all the way to Dresden. Although Dresden had been bombed out, the train station was already functioning and from Dresden we thus rode a regular, normal express train as passengers all the way to Prague.”
“There were boats not only from Prague, but from all of the Czech Republic, and it was actually the largest trip ever, if you can call it a trip, or rather a sailing, of Czech boats to the sea. It was at the time when we still had very limited experience with sailing on the sea, and it was thus quite complicated and difficult to organize it. To get the maps, for example. Maps, especially nautical maps, were unavailable in our country. There were foreign maps, English maps, for example – but how could we get to England and bring maps? From time to time somebody would just get hold of something unofficially. We managed to obtain most of the maps from Bulgaria. Those who were getting the maps for us there were scared that they would be found out, because such a map basically equaled to military secret.”
I have experienced many happy moments, which I have not deserved, and it even fills me with awe
Rudolf Jan Holý was born September 22, 1921 in Ústí nad Labem-Střekov, where he lived with his parents and two sisters. He has been a Boy Scout since he was a young boy. After the rise of Hitler to power the family had to leave northern Bohemia. They moved to Prague, where Rudolf continued with his Scouting activities and where he enrolled in the trade academy in Resslova Street. His interest in the Orient led him to the Church of Sts Cyril and Methodius and to the Greek Orthodox Church, where he met the chaplain Václav Petřek and bishop Gorazd and he was helping them with the search for a new hiding place for the paratroopers after the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich. Rudolf Holý was not discovered by the authorities a supporter of the resistance movement and he remained in contact with the church. In May 1943 he was ordered to do forced labour together with other young people who were born in 1921. He worked for Deutsche Lufthansa in Prague-Ruzyně. He experienced the May Uprising in the streets of the Old Town in Prague where he lived with his wife Libuše. After the war he began working for the Orthodox Church, but he left the church when authorities from the Ministry of Interior started to be interested in him. He found a job in the Zdeněk Nejedlý Coal Mine near Kladno and later he worked as an unskilled laborer in Prague. He completed a distance-study at the Czech Technical University and he began working in the Research Institute for Mechanical Engineering. From the mid-1960s he has been active in yachting. He became a member of the Czech Yacht Club in Prague-Podolí, in which he then served as a chairman for many years, and he is now still active as the club‘s archive-keeper. With his wife Libuše they have two children, four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.