Ing., Colonel Oldřich Hukal

* 1937  

  • "…one more experience when we didn’t feel very well. It was a border patrol. They loaded our unit into a Tatra 805 and took us to the Hungarian border. It was like in a bad film, at left there were the ruins of a castle with a crescent above. We were informed that a platoon of some 20 border guards was near us, that they would be brought some food containers around midnight, and that a Hungarian would pass by at about one o’clock on his way to a factory in Filakovo. We heard occasional firing from Salgótarján. We stood by a rivulet, spread into line and started digging trenches, and when we had dug about 10 cm deep it started to rain. So we stood over the puddles, put our tarpaulins on and waited. We were 19 years old, it wasn’t very nice and we thought: What should we do? Our units are 12 km away from us, there are six of us and we know there is a rebelling political and tank military school in Hungary; they sided with the counter-revolution. Reportedly, they were to try to shoot their way through along the border to Vienna, that’s what we were told. So we didn’t feel well, realising the force that we would be faced with. Eventually, at one o’clock an owl hooted, maybe it was a signal, who knows - with the crescent moon in the sky ... and we heard some sounds. Then we saw a shadowy figure on the Hungarian side where there was a path. A man came to us, we knew his name, he said the name, it was Kelemen, so we let him through and nothing happened. At 6 o’clock in the morning the 805 arrived and by then, Russians had already deployed tanks along our and Romanian borders, made a pincer movement in front of Vienna and the rebels never fought their way in."

  • "…one day we were walking home from school, it was at the end of the war. By the railway, just where the road from Slatina crosses the Louny-Lovosice railway, there were many tanks, then trucks and then old, bearded Siberian guys riding horses. On their way from Dresden, they had passed by the Diana chocolate factory in Děčín and then by the Deli in Lovosice and they had plundered them. They had truckloads and tank turrets full of chocolates and they knew that they couldn’t bring it all home. There were three of us and we soon learned how to shout "Long live Red Army!" in Russian, and they threw us bags of candy and boxes of chocolate. We picked it up and slipped it under our shirts. That went on for about 3 days, the convoys were just endless, it must have been an entire army or two. On the third day when I came home, my mother told me: “Be ashamed, are you greedy?” When I got my hands on a German daily ration, there were ten cigarettes, coffee candy for guards to stay awake at night, grape sugar and other things. When I unpacked it, my dad got the cigarettes, my mum took the coffee candy which she proceeded to melt to make coffee, and I got the other sweets."

  • "In 1945, I think it was 9 or 8 May, Soviets streamed down from Dresden towards Děčín, Ústí, Lovosice and towards Libochovice. Everybody already knew they were somewhere in Lovosice. Libochovice citizens, some 2,000 of them, gathered at the square near St. Mary column opposite the savings bank. A German infantry battalion stood in front of the Černý Orel Hotel, lined up in a perfect muster by squads and platoons, with several officers in front of them and guns – machine guns, rifles – all arranged and nicely laid out on the ground, and they were waiting. There were two UNRRA lorries and a unit of General Vlasov on the side by the savings bank. They had bags and various guns there. They were wearing light yellow Russian uniforms. There were women around them and the men were acting machos. But then somebody came running from the cinema and said: “Russians are coming, they are coming from Slatina”. The Vlasov men up and were gone: they started up the engines and "poof", they were on their way towards Louny. Then, in about 10 or 15 minutes, tanks suddenly arrived, so did cars and an off-road, which stopped and the Russians saw those Germans. Two Russian officers went there, greeted them, the German handed them his pistol, they said something to each, saluted, then the German uttered a command and off they went to the right, towards Roudnice, to captivity."

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I got through because I met some good people

Oldřich Hukal in his lieutenant uniform, 1959
Oldřich Hukal in his lieutenant uniform, 1959
zdroj: fotografie pamětníka

Col. Oldřich Hukal was born in Prague on 10 March 1937. He spent his childhood in Northern Bohemia and his family moved several times because of his father‘s military career. He did not pursue his talent for painting and, influenced by the post-war romantic sentiments, he went on to study a military school instead. He served at several Czech garrisons (Bor u Tachova, Horní Počernice, Česká Třebová) and his service included, among other things, the participation in the Hungarian uprising. He closed his career at the Ministry of Defence. He soon sobered up from the post-war romantic ideas about the military and, never one to pursue career progress, he was also spared from joining the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia. Today Mr. Hukal is fully retired and is devoted to painting, mainly Northern Bohemian landscapes.