Captain (ret.) Václav Jirkovský

* 1923

  • “We talked to these guerilla fighters. We told them we’re not Germans and that we’d like to run away from the army. So they promised us they’d come the next day for us. They came to my outpost at noon as was agreed. We shot a bit into the air so as to leave some bullets behind as proof that there was some shooting going on. And we fled into the mountains.”

  • “Three, four of us were running away from here a one had a paper from the principal that he’s got three days of vacation. So we were on the run. We took a train to Lovosice, that’s where Germany ended, then there was Bohušovice which was Czech already. We got off in Lovosice, one by one in order to not be suspicious. The border police was there but fortunately there was a crowd of people so they didn’t pay attention to us. And one guy already had the information where to go so we just followed his lead. And it worked out well.”

  • “Then an information came from the employment office. Mr. Páral informed me that the Germans are interested in me and he transferred me to the governmental army. So I went.”

  • “I spent roughly two months with the guerilla fighters. They were feeding us there in the mountains. Sometimes the food was plentiful and at other times we didn’t have anything to eat. I was already the third soldier of the governmental army that had fled to the mountains, but the officers in the army thought that I’d been abducted. In the night me and the guerilla fighters would go to “abduct” other fellow Czechs. We came to an outpost, knocked on the door and spoke in Czech to them so they opened the door and we took them to the mountains, whether they liked it or not. In this way we “abducted” 48 people. The Germans figured out that there’s something wrong with the governmental army so they withdrew it, took away their guns and sent them somewhere to dig trenches. However, I only found this out after the war.”

  • “He sent me to Brüx – today’s Most, where I worked in the Hydrowerk, later renamed to Stalin Works. I was lucky because it was right after the heydrichiáda (the surge of terror, persecutions and executions perpetrated on the Czech population following the assassination of Heydrich – note by the translator) and there were police raids and roundups everywhere. They most probably would have caught me and shot me.”

  • “In January 1942 I got a letter saying I had to appear in the employment office in Přeštice. In Přeštice they announced to me that I had to come to the employment office a few days later for a transport to Berlin where I would work as a forced-laborer. When I came to the office the next day there were already around twenty other called-up people standing there, mostly friends, fellow carpenters. So they put us on a train to Berlin where we had to mount wooden houses.”

  • “I was employed as forced-labor workforce in Berlin, where we had to build wooden houses. I spent about three months there and then I fled back home. Our mayor was afraid that they’d arrest me and him as well, since I wasn’t registered anywhere. So he kept pushing me to register somewhere. So, eventually, I registered with the local employment office because I had a friend there who was working there as a clerk.”

  • “From the Italian mountains we fell back to Switzerland where we waited for about two months. Then an order came and we were transferred via France to Marseille, where they boarded us on a ship and shipped us to Naples and from there to England. There we immediately signed up for the army. They formed our group of 48 people into a platoon and we were put on a rigorous, one-month training.”

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“During the war I was constantly on the run and after 1948 they found out that I served in the air force in Britain so they kicked me out of my job.”

Václav Jirkovský in the year 1945
Václav Jirkovský in the year 1945

Václav Jirkovský was born in 1923 in the village of Skočice nearby Přeštice. He spent his childhood in miserable conditions as his family was very poor. In January 1942 he received a letter from the employment office saying he has to make an appearance in the office in Přeštice. A few days later he and a couple of others were taken to Berlin where they were employed as forced-labor workforce. Around Easter he and three other boys decided they‘d flee from Germany and return home. The escape was successful but the mayor of the village was afraid that Václav Jirkovský would be found by the Germans and so he persuaded him to report at the employment office. Thereafter Václav was sent for forced-labor to Most, where he worked for about a year in a carpentry workshop. He got a recommendation from an acquaintance and was accepted in the governmental army. In the army, he went through a basic military training from October 1943 till the end of April 1944. Their main task was to guard the main railway roads in Italy, in the region around Milan. After an agreement with the Italian guerilla fighters he managed to escape again after a fake ambush operation. With the help of the guerilla fighters, he „abducted“ further Czech friends. Mr. Jirkovský managed cross the Italian mountain ranges and to get from Italy to Switzerland, France and eventually to England. He was assigned to the air force and took a basic training course; nevertheless, he wasn‘t employed as a pilot, yet. He was put on a gunman training course on which he spent about a month a half before the war came to an end. He was assigned to the 312th squadron stationed in Manston, where he served as an assistant mechanic. After the war he worked for the police but after cadre screenings he was dismissed in September 1950 because of his activities abroad during the war. He made a living as a carpenter and worked also as a school janitor in an elementary school in Carlsbad.