Colonel (ret.) Ladislav Kilián

* 1922  

  • “30th January 1943, the whole battalion in got into cattle wagons on a train that went to the frontline. It was exactly one year after I left home. We were very happy that we could go fight. The atmosphere was cheerful, people were singing and the whole city of Buzuluk came to wave us goodbye. The train station was full of celebrating people.”

  • “In the evening when the sun was setting, we came to Kharkov. They lodged us in a school which was partly destroyed. When we prepared the place and were ready to sleep, we were woken up at midnight with an alarm that the enemy was advancing towards the town. We set out on a march to Sokolovo. The wind blew hard and there was a lot of snow. But the weather was already mild because the snow began to melt.”

  • “We celebrated the graduation exam and heard the news that the Soviet Union was attacked and the war began. Then I waited. I was working and they called for me in the beginning of 1942. I came to the office where they told me that I would join the army.”

  • “During the first days there was no training because we didn’t have any weapons. We were going to the woods to fell trees for firewood. I was placed into the machine gun company. At the beginning we had training with wooden rifles we made ourselves because there were only fifteen rifles for the whole battalion."

  • “I don’t believe anyone who speaks about heroes not afraid of anything. Nobody wanted to die. You were always afraid because the danger was real. Heroism meant that you managed to control your feelings not to go through a panic attack. To be aware of the fact that you had a rifle and you had to defend yourself. And I must say that I passed the test, I never acted as a coward even though I knew I could have died any moment.”

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    Praha, 03.02.2004

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Heroism meant that you managed to control your feelings not to go through a panic attack

Ladislav Kilián
Ladislav Kilián

Ladislav Kilián was born on 13th January 1922 in Prague. When he was a small boy, his family moved to USSR as a part of the international workers aid to the USSR. After the German invasion in 1941, he joined the Russian army which transferred him to the emerging Czechoslovak army. In February 1942, he joined the Svoboda‘s units, in 1943, he was sent to Kharkov to the frontline. He fought in the battle of Sokolovo and participated in the liberation of Kiev in the rank of a second lieutenant. He had an arm injury during the fights at Ruda. In 1944, he got to Liptovský Mikuláš through the Dukla pass. During the liberation of Prague on 10th May 1945, his unit took control over the Prague castle. His family returned to Czechoslovakia in 1948. After the war, he stayed in the Czechoslovak army.