“February 25 is my birthday, I was seventeen. I was taking a tram across the Charles Square, where university students gathered. I joined them and accompanied those thousands students up Neruda Street to the Castle. We were stopped by the police, beaten by their rifles, pushed back. There were buses sent towards us and we had nowhere to go, some boys even broke shop windows. I was close to the single shot of February – the gun went off by accident and shot someone in the leg. We then fled to the square in front of the St Nicholas Church and shouted: ‘Let them shoot!’ The police went at us and beat us.”
“We knew that it was fake, that Slánský was no traitor. We knew that they were not the Trotsky-Tito band of spies and traitors, as the leaflet on the Slánský trial had it. And then we objected to the anti-semitism. There was: Slánský, of Jewish nationality. Ota Pavel has a story about it… I lived in a society of people who knew it was fake and we all knew that the pre-war trials in Russia were the same.”
“I rather had a feeling we were needed there. I went to the director as a doctor who specialised mainly in somatic medicine. I equipped the consultancy room, the operating theatre, should anything happen, provided the first aid stuff. The clinic was a back-up hospital according to the civil defence plans. Its task was to back-up the hospital in Tábor in case it was bombed. We got united. When we came, we were terribly angered. We thought the worst about Russians. In 1945 I liked them, I climbed their tank and took a ride to the Wenceslas Square. They sat near Invalidovna, had their fires lit, I was with them and I tasted buckwheat porridge for the first time. We did not lend them our bicycles, since they did not return them, and I saw how many watches they had, which they had collected in some ways. They were cordial, drunk, I was around, a fourteen-year-old boy. Generally I liked them, it was the end of war.”
Josef Kříž was born on February 25, 1931, in Prague to Josef and Alžběta Kříž. His elder brother Jiří led him to boy scouts and his father instilled in him loyalty towards the republic. As a child he witnessed the burial of president Masaryk, mobilisation, transports of Jews and dissolution of the Boy Scout organisation. When the organisation was renewed after the war, he joined the water unit Thirteen, established by his brother and other boy scouts with whom he had left Foglar’s Prague Two in 1936. On his seventeenth birthday he marched with other students through Nerudova street to the Prague Castle, where they demonstrated in support of president Beneš and democracy. After secondary school he was accepted to study psychology at the Faculty of Arts, Charles University, he switched study after a year and studied paediatrics at the Faculty of Medicine. He married during his studies and with his wife Zora had a daughter named Jana and son Jakub. First they served as doctors in Pardubice region, since 1960 they have lived in Opařany, South Bohemia, where Josef Kříž served as a child doctor, child psychiatrist and since 1967 as a senior consultant. He never joined the Communist Party. In 1968 he renewed, together with Josef Mašek and their wives, the water unit Thirteen in Opařany. It worked even in the time of the normalisation under the Pioneer banner, but retained much of its Boy Scout symbols. Today the unit Harbour Thirteen Opařany has about a hundred and seventy members.