“My dad knew that Grandma was already old. Fortunately, poor Grandma had died before she was placed in a transport to Auschwitz. Unlike my uncle, the brother of my father, who converted from his Catholic religion to the Jewish faith because of his wife Marta. Thus I lost my cousin, with whom I was very close. He was a great boy. They ended in Auschwitz; they went straight from the transport to the gas chambers.”
“The political officer’s name was Ftorek, and he was permanently drunk. The lectures were great for us because we were dozing off in the political education hall. They were giving us brochures like: Stalin is a Star, Gottwald is a Star, Barák is a Star. But some of the people who were there with me were absolute idiots. Or there were boys from place like the the Lower Tatras who would ride the train for the first time and have no clue what was going on. When they were asked during the preliminary exam, before the final examination, - for example Servátka - who came from the Tatra Mountains, when asked who the president of the country was, he replied: ´Mr. Corporal Klimeš.´ That was a horror, you wouldn’t see this anywhere else.”
“The only cool guy there was Nevečeřal. It didn’t happen in our company, but in Spálenec. He was on the national junior team in as a pole vaulter. In the 1950s there were boys in Prague who called themselves the Vyšehrad Riders. Nevečeřal was from Libeň, and I was from Holešovice. He was really cool when he jumped over the wires using the pole. He had been trained for that. Everyone was dumbfounded; they didn’t have a clue how he had done it. There were no traces, nothing. He then used the pole to sweep away the traces. Great.”
“Nobody was escaping from our country. The only thing I experienced in Maxov was that we were woken at night around half past twelve and we were ordered to intercept somebody two kilometres from the wire fence in the forest. We really went there and we were there until ten o’clock in the morning, and only then did we learn the reason for it: two Polish men were escaping and they wanted to cross the border there. But what was funny was that those two Poles were sitting above the staff building in Kout – Nosar was the staff leader there – and they were sitting in a tree and listening to everything that was being said. They managed to run away, anyway. They cut through the wire fence. But there were some sections of the wire fence where you didn’t even need to cut anything. There were streams, and when the water level rose, it knocked out electricity in the circuit.”
“One time we got into some serious shit. The accident happened between Všeruby and Maxov. The sappers were exploding some houses there, and they set the charges from one house to the other. About five guys got into one of those houses. The explosive charge had been set up and some idiot connected the wires and the guys died in there. We arrived with an ambulance, and the counterintelligence arrived right after. We were pulling pieces of dead bodies out of there, it made me throw up. This happened during my duty in 1957.”
“We had a guy in Maxov, his name was Rosťa Bahlej. He was a commo boy and he stammered. He installed radios in our rooms. We had communication devices, which were used for communication between the border line and the company. Rosťa turned them into speakers, which we hid in our pillows. From the morning till the evening, we were able to listen to Radio Luxembourg. And when officer Macháček or Váchal came, he would turn it off. As soon as they left, music would start playing again. That was because the officers lived in another building, they had their wives and children there.”
We knew that our country was a fenced concentration camp and that we were not on the border line where we would have to watch out for some agents
Jiří Minařík was born on July 23, 1938 in Prague-Holešovice. His father was a clerk. While his aunt was married to a member of the NSDAP and his cousin served in the wehrmacht, his other grandmother was of Jewish origin and died in the Terezín ghetto. His father‘s brother and his family were murdered in Auschwitz. Since his father came from a mixed marriage, he was interned at the labour camp in Jírovice-Bystřice near Benešov, where he was held until the end of the war. He returned to Prague as a member of the revolutionary guard from Benešov. When he was a little boy, Jiří and his mother witnessed the events which followed immediately after the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, because they just happened to be in the adjacent street when the incident occurred. Jiří completed his elementary education after the war, and in 1953-55 he learnt the fitter‘s trade at the Vocational Training Centre for state labour reserves of the former Autopraga company. He interrupted his studies at the secondary Industrial School of Machinery in 1957 and he began his military service. He served in the 9th brigade of the Border Guard in Poběžovice, in the Maxov company and then as an ambulance driver in the battalion staff in Kout in the Šumava Mountains. After his military service he completed his studies at the secondary Industrial School of Ironworking and Metallurgy. He worked for the organization IMPRO at the Factories of Machinery Technology. In 1968-1970 he lived in West Germany. He had been allowed to go to Germany for training at the Mannesmann Company, and he illegally extended his stay there. After his return to Czechoslovakia he worked as a planner for the construction of housing estates, as a machinery and transportation planner, and finally at Investice ČSAD Praha. After 1989 he worked for German companies and he was organizing the transportation of petrol. He died in August 2012.