“The Gestapo stormed into the slaughterhouse (in Pardubice) and they closed the gate and made everyone get out of their workplace and they started investigating what was going on there. Somebody had informed them that people were stealing from the slaughterhouse. Each of them had a family and children… that’s why he (dad) was doing it – for his family. Eventually the Gestapo imprisoned about fifteen of them. It was in July 1943. A month later they transported them to Prague, and the court trial there took the whole day, and around midnight they read the verdict. Dad was the only one whom they let go home. He got eleven months. The others... all the others have stayed there. Two of them were executed, veterinaries got sentenced to several years... but the things that they were doing: one of them allegedly had an acquaintance in Prague and he was sending suitcases full of meat there. He was putting at risk the others as well, not just himself… and it ended up in such a horrible way.”
“It was a time when people were marked either as communists and non-communists. But I made a distinction between the true communists and those who were nicknamed ‘in-communists’. The true communists were those who had been born poor and experienced poverty – for example, they were the people whom my mom was giving clothes for their children after my brother grew up from them. They were good people. And they were communists. They are entitled to their belief and I am not surprised that they believe it and that they do not want to see what is happening in Russia. The other type were so-called ‘in-communists.’ Others knew that they did not agree with communism at all, but that they joined the communist party because there were some benefits and it paid off for them. They were called in-communists, ‘in the communist party.’ And everybody knew this about them. And then there were people like me, who have never joined them and who would have never joined them – for anything, not even if they threatened to kill me. And I had to bear the consequences quite frequently. Very often.
“When the sirens sounded an alarm, Mr. Hájek arrived immediately. He was appointed for our street to make sure that everybody would go to the shelter. But we did not want to, because it was very interesting. It was the first air raid. I have never seen airplanes in action. Bombs were not dropping yet, but the alarm for the air raid had already sounded. The airplanes were there in an instant. It was absolutely beautiful – the way they were lined up in the sky. We were leaning against our house and watching. We didn’t feel like going to the shelter. But we were afraid, and so we went in. I was so scared that we would all die there at that time.”
“Or they were the independent businessmen. There was the upholsterer Kříž. He had a large upholstery shop – with at least ten workers. They made him sit in the armchair in the shop window of a carpet shop. They made him sit in front of these carpets and they placed there a sign with the inscription: ‘Here sits Mr. Kříž.’ Two broken wooden boxes with the Hellada soap were in front of him and there was a sign: ‘This marmot hoards up stock and thus steals from the national economy.’ The man was sitting there and he let himself be stared at from people and the communists were nearly spitting at him. (Were there more people in the shop window?) I regretted Mr. Kříž most of all. But yes, there were more of them there...”
“The Russians came and they brought lard from their car – the speck was already green and it was not packed hygienically at all. They slammed it on the piano and they were cutting the lard on the piano with their bayonets. There were beer glasses in the kitchen, but they drank from whatever they could find. They opened all the windows on the first floor and they turned on Radio Moscow at full volume. My mom thought that she would pass away. They demonstrated their sense of equality when their officers lay nicely on the couch and they ordered the others who came later to lie down on the tiles in the kitchen. They put their feet under the stove and they lay there on the floor tiles in their clothes like this...”
I have survived eleven presidents, the war, the communists, I have lived to see the revolution, but there is still no peace…
Eva Kopecká was born December 28, 1922 in Pardubice where her father Václav worked in the sales department of an electric company. She grew up together with her two younger siblings Marie and Vladimír. Her mother Marie, née Vinařová, was a housewife before the war. Eva Kopecká was a witness to many events which took place in Pardubice during WWII and during the first year after the communist coup d‘état. She experienced air raids on the city and her uncle died during one of them. While her father worked in the slaughterhouse, he was arrested by the Gestapo in 1943 and sentenced to eleven months of forced labour in Maribor in Yugoslavia. The Jewish family of Oskar Singer entrusted their paintings to the family of Mr. Kopecký to keep them during the war, but only Mrs. Singer and her daughter have survived. They lived with the Kopecký family until their emigration to Israel. Their second daughter Helena has survived the war in England where she had gone in one of the trains organized by Nicholas Winton. Eva Kopecká also remembers three British airmen who were returning via Pardubice to England from their captivity during the war and the Kopecký family let them stay in their home. Later they had a shocking experience with Russian soldiers who used their home as well. After the coup d‘état in February 1948 Eva witnessed the humiliation of entrepreneurs and small traders from Pardubice and communists tried to force her into persuading farmers to join the Unified Agricultural Cooperatives. She saw the looting of German houses in the Sudeten region and she speaks about her German friend Elsa who disappeared after the war during the deportation of Germans and with whom she re-established contact only after the Velvet revolution in 1989.