Second Lieutenant (ret.) Bohumil Novák

* 1920

  • "Czech News it's name was, Milinov district. And they were taking them to Germany. They stood there somehow or other and he managed to escape together with a Pole. They fled through the forest and hid with relatives. Then they parted. And he said to the other: 'Don't speak Polish when someone meets us,' because the Ukrainians persecuted them something awful in those days... 'There were the Banderovites' '...the Banderovites and the ones in the forest.' So if they had met someone and found out they were Polish, they would have killed them. So he hid right until the end, when the Russians came."

  • "Well, and he condemned us. He wanted to have us executed, but that he didn't trust that Synková woman. So this Nejedlý, he was in custody with us aswell, they wanted him as the Crown witness. And he said: 'I didn't do anything and neither did they.' So they left him up to his knees in water for ten days, and when they brought him out again, they asked: 'Well, are you going to talk?' 'No, I won't. I didn't do anything, and I won't talk against the others.' So they put him in the water again. But he resisted. If he had spoken up against us... we had this monster-trial in Staňkovice, we were supposed to be executed. So in the end we were judged by a different chairman of the Senate, and he sentenced us to altogether one hundred years of prison."

  • "Well, you can imagine, it was terrible, the experience. We went into the first attack. One friend, younger than me, Dražil... Well, we went into the attack together. And when we got back, I just couldn't recognize him. He had black hair, but when we got back, it was white. I remember that. Terrible. It was in Machnov, it was carelessness on part of the commanders, we marched in there and the Germans started blasting us with mortars. Some of our boys died there. Carelessness. You can't do anything about that. Terrible. But a few of us survived. And there's not many of us now."

  • "This is how it was. It was harvest time, there in our kolkhoz. And one barn caught fire, spontaneous combustion. Angel Barn it was. And the chairman, so as to escape responsibility, first set fire to my barn. The women saw him leave it, and a moment later our barn was burning. And other ones. So that it looked like we had done it. That just wasn't true, we didn't burn anything. Now, when there were all those fires around, and because there was some two-million worth of hops at one of the farmer's, I said to the chairman of the kolkhoz: 'We should move that hops out, or it'll burn.' And he says: 'Don't worry, it won't burn.' And it didn't. Well, and then they put us in jail. That Synek chap was a soldier aswell. Then some Nejedlý chap, he wasn't a soldier, but he was a Volynian Czech. And Hudec and me. Mrs. Synková witnessed against us, that was the wife of Synek. And she was in an asylum for the mentally ill. And then, when she returned she was the Crown witness against us. And they pumped us for three years of custody. And when we were in custody in Litoměřice, I said: 'But we didn't do anything.' 'Well, we know you didn't, but you will go to prison for it.' And that's how it was."

  • "I was the armored submachine-gun infantry. So we were driving along with our tanks, by the Czech border, we were sitting on top, but the Germans, when they saw us up on the tanks, they started blasting us something awful. And we had to jump down and go by foot, screened by the tanks. But the tanks couldn't go on, because the German onslaught was so strong. So I ended up standing on this path with shells flying all around me. And I actually thought: 'Well, they're hitting elsewhere.' And as I was standing there, this one shell dropped right by my feet, right by my feet. And so it wounded both of my feet, my hand, and I got hit under the eye, here. But I managed to walk three kilometres to our light artillery, and I was taken from there by some brother of Filípek's. I don't know where he got the horses from, somewhere beyond Dukla. And they were taking us away from Dukla. There were maybe five of us. And now we drove over this hill and the Germans started blasting us. So we got off the cart, but the horses somehow got free and ran off. And we were left behind, lying on the ground. Afterwards a car came for us from the field hospital. They took us to Poland, to Rzeszow or whatever it was called. To hospital."

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    Děčín, 14.11.2005

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„Well, you can imagine, it was terrible, the experience. We went into the first attack. One friend, younger than me, Dražil... Well, we went into the attack together. And when we got back, I just couldn‘t recognize him. He had black hair, but when we got back, it was white... Terrible.“

novak_bohumil_1945astrachan.jpg (historic)
Second Lieutenant (ret.) Bohumil Novák
zdroj: Dobová: z Astrachaně roku 1945

Bohumil Novák was born on the 4th of October 1920 in Volhynia, Ukraine, in the village České Noviny (Czech News). In 1941, during the Third Reich, he was drafted into forced labour and was supposed to be taken to Germany. But he managed to escape while still in Volhynia, and he hid in the forests. When the Red Army arrived, he joined the Czechoslovak regiment as a tank desant trooper. He was wounded during the battle of Dukla, on the 9th of September 1944. He was taken through the Polish town of Rzeszov to the Russian military hospital in Astrachan, where he stayed for four months. He then returned to Volhynia, where he lasted half a year, before settling down in Staňkovice in Czechoslovakia. He ended his military career in 1946. In 1957 he was sentenced to twenty-five years in prison after fabricated accusations of arson. He was an inmate of the labour camp Vojna and the uranium mine Bytíz. He was amnestied in 1964, fully rehabilitated after teh Velvet revolution in 1989.