Dalibor Knejfl

* 1925

  • “Then they had us guard the railway lines, so we drove to the railway at Susa. We were in the guard house. There was [one Italian soldier - ed.] there, he was a Fascist, he lived there, and we took up quarters downstairs. He spoke a little German, so he told our blokes to watch out: ‘Those in that house over there have a son with the partisans...’ The Germans had already kept watch there, so [the people] were always shot, ‘so you shoot them as well.’ So Moučka and Bogda borrowed my dictionary, they went there as if to get milk, and told them we wanted to join the partisans.”

  • “Then they started purging operations against us, and they caught us during one big purge. The all clear was given, that the Germans are gone, so we climbed out of our hiding places, and then they suddenly appeared and bagged us. We were saved by one [German] corporal.”

  • “We took the ones we’d caught here. We also caught the Flaggist Rys [Rozsévač, a leader of the Czech Fascist organisation Vlajka (The Flag) - trans.]. We made bullets in Verona, we were near Verona, and an Italian woman came up, saying there was some [person] there who spoke a language that she didn’t understand and that he didn’t speak German. So we went there, we clearly heard a Czech voice, so we asked for his papers. Of course, they made false ones by then, as if printed ones, whereas at that time they still issued pre-printed [documents]. So it seemed a bit odd to us, so we took him to the HQ, and there was a major there from the Government Forces, and his batman [soldier-servant] was a bloke from Bydžov. And [Rys] was a Bydžov man. So he recognised him.”

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From the government forces to the Italian partisans, and back again

Dalibor Knejfl as a partisan, 1944
Dalibor Knejfl as a partisan, 1944
zdroj: archiv Dalibora Knejfla

Master Sergeant (ret.) Dalibor Knejfl was born on 14 January 1925 in Lázně Bělohrad in what was then Czechoslovakia. After attending primary school and completing vocational training in textiles in Hořice, he was assigned to forced labour at the Junkers factory in Hradec Králové. However, in autumn 1943 he followed the advice of his cousin Karel Jurajda and applied to the Government Forces of the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia; he was assigned to the 11th Battalion in Rychnov nad Kněžnou. He underwent military training, and together with other government units he was sent to guard railway lines in Italy on 24 May 1944. There, he and other government soldiers managed to desert and join the Italian partisans on 21 June 1944. The witness served with the groups of Carlo Carli and Pudlo and later with the 41st and 43rd Garibaldi Partisan Brigades. On 6 December 1944 he was captured by German soldiers, and after being held in the prisons in Turin, Verona, and Peschiera, he was returned to the Government Forces, although this time as part of the labour corps. Interrogations had not been able to prove that the soldiers had intentionally deserted to the partisans, and the government soldiers were thus considered POWs. Dalibor Knejfl remained in Italy until his liberation by the American army on 28 April 1945. He returned to Czechoslovakia when the war ended. After the war he served in the army and was stationed in Chlumec nad Cidlinou, Mladá Boleslav, and Turnov; he worked as a shop assistant, as a records clerk for porcelain factories, at a textile mill, at a paper mill, at Tesla, and finally as a fire extinguisher inspector. Dalibor Knejfl married twice. He now lives in the village of Dolní Dobrouč near Lanškroun.