Milan Paumer

* 1931  †︎ 2010

  • “We decided that we needed to get reliable things, and these things could only be found in army storage units or in police stations. We were no match for the army - we wouldn’t have gotten far that way, so the only solution for us were these small police stations in small towns or villages. We decided to go to Chlumec first. I served as the driver because I already had a driving licence and driving experience; whenever we did something and a driver was needed, I would serve as a driver. So we went to Chlumec. At first we went to Prague and ordered a taxi there. Radek told the taxi driver: ´Look now, we’ll have you sniff some chloroform and after you wake up, you can do whatever you like.´ He said: ´No, please, no, if you want to give me chloroform, you’d better shoot me straight away, I have a weak heart, I wouldn’t survive it.´ So we told him to go sit over by a tree and to remain sitting there for half an hour, then he was free to do whatever he wanted. What happened next, after driving back from Chlumec an hour and a half later, we suddenly see a guy waving in the middle of the road and I exclaimed: ´Look, that’s our taxi driver!´ We went to Prague. We left the taxi on an embankment in Prague. When we went to Chlumec, our idea was only to knock out the policeman, take the stuff and go home. But it didn’t happen this way. Radek was supposed to knock him out by striking him on his head, but he probably didn’t hit him in the right place, and the man didn’t fall down, didn’t faint, he only turned around and was about to grab his gun and pull it out. Pepa was standing behind him and he noticed it, and he pulled out his own gun and shot him dead with two shots. We had to leave the place right away. Then we decided we would never be able to just knock out an officer, because… we were lucky that nobody saw us, but that next time, we would have to do away with the policeman.”

  • “I was sending letters. I was indeed sending them. I thought they might not get my letters, but my dad had a sister who had married in Omaha, in the US - I would always write a letter and send it to her in Omaha. She would then send it from Omaha to Poděbrady, to the priest’s address, and the priest would then give the letter to my family. But from about 1960 onwards, (I later went to do some search at the archives on Legerova Street in Prague and there I found an order issued by the Ministry of Interior requesting that all correspondence be withheld. They said all correspondence. There was a letter which was a reply to this order, saying that due to technical reasons they could not stop domestic mail, but that they were able to withhold all international mail.) I stopped receiving letters. Then when I came home, my brother scolded me: ´Hey, you walked out on us or what? When you became a civilian, we were no longer good enough for you, right?´ I told him: ´Stop it, it was you who walked out on me.´ I knew what had happened. He said: ´But we were sending you letters, and they didn’t even get returned.´ I told him: ´You see. That’s it. They were all confiscated.´ Later, after I found out about it in the archives, I explained this to him. My brother was quite happy about what had happened, the way we had done it. He said that mother had been crying all the time and saying that she hoped I had survived. Later, when she learnt that we had made it to Berlin, she stopped crying. They also thought that I had let them down. My mom never learnt why the letters had not come, but my brother told me that she was very happy that I had survived.”

  • Talking of their dramatic arrival in Berlin.

  • “In Čelákovice it turned out differently then we had anticipated. It eventually progressed so far that we had to… this time we stole an ambulance car. When the police were called to come to make a report, Radek told him that there was a person with a broken leg in the ambulance. The policeman said he would come in a minute. By the time he came, we were already done with the ambulance crew - they were sitting in the forest tied to a tree and we were waiting for the policeman. He arrived on a bike and I remember that I was sitting in a ditch while pretending that I had a broken leg. The guys told the policeman that I had a broken leg and as he began to write a report, Radek took his gun, tied his hands behind his back and put him in the ambulance. We drove the ambulance to Čelákovice where the boys made him get out. They went to the police station, but I didn’t go with them because I was to wait in the ambulance. Radek told me that they had simply ordered the police officer to give them the keys to the firearms case, and the officer replied he couldn’t because he didn’t have the keys. It was obviously a lie, so the boys pushed the case over. It fell on the floor and opened because there was only a thin board at the back. The case was full of weapons. There were six submachine guns, eight or ten guns, tons of ammunition, and they took it all. The policeman was still alive and looking at them; he saw it all and could have remembered their faces. The light was on. After they took all the weapons and loaded them into the ambulance car, Radek went back and he cut his throat and then we drove away.”

  • Václav Švéda wounded and lost during their escape in Germany.

  • A gunfight at the railway station in the town of Uckro.

  • “Then we reached a plain where trees had been logged. The branches had been cut off and piled. We saw that there were about eight piles, and we chose the biggest one. That was pile number three. We decided we would hide under the branches. But the piles had been there for some time, and due to rain, the branches had sagged down. We thought we would somehow pull out branches from the bottom, but we were unable to move them. So we had to dig a hole under the pile in order to hide there. The digging was not so bad because the soil was sandy. When a small pile of sand formed, we would take the sand with our hands and scatter it about ten or fifteen metres away. We didn’t want to leave any traces around the pile of wood in case somebody accidentally passed by. They did come. It took us quite a long time to dig the hole large enough for all of us to fit in. Imagine now that my nails are our heads. We were lying like this. The third one lay in between them (his head towards their feet), and we were lying there like this. We were lying there for three days. On the third day, soldiers came again with trucks and luckily they didn’t have dogs with them. We could hear them shouting and talking around us, and suddenly we hear: ´Czech, go out, you get a slap on your head.´ We laughed at his comical Czech, and then they began discussing what to do with the piles. They suspected that we might be hiding under them but they were too lazy to dig into them. They were also saying something about shooting, and at this moment, Pepek told us: ´Christ, if they start shooting and if they hit you, don’t cry and don’t shout, so that they don’t find you.´ Good advice, I thought. We were lying there, nearly dead with fear, and all of a sudden somebody jumps on top of the pile and starts walking and jumping there, saying: ´Alles in Ordnung.´ And then they left. We felt so relieved.”

  • Attacking the vehicle which carried paychecks, another victim.

  • About the hospitable Germans after their hiding place in the barn became known.

  • “We decided to hunt for nutrias because of their skins, plus, the conditions there were favourable. We had already collected about two thousand nutria skins and we were about to sell them, but suddenly a hurricane came. Guys, you don’t know what a hurricane is! We were in southern Texas near the Gulf of Mexico, and when the hurricane came, the water in the Gulf rose fifteen feet, that’s five meters, and it flooded everything. It took the skins away. I got angry and I said – hey, I’m going home. I was working in a factory, well, not actually a factory, it was a workshop where repairs and overhauls of aircraft engines were being done. I said a workshop, but it was actually quite large, eighty people were employed there and they had a military contract with the Air Force. We were doing overhauls of the engines for the old B 17 - the flying fortresses, and also the latest model, the 29. I worked there for only two years, and then I started a taxi business. Eventually, I came to own five taxi cars. I realized that five cars were just enough for one owner. If you had more, you would need your own repair shop, a car mechanic, a towing vehicle, and things like that. I didn’t want this. I didn’t want to have a partner, I didn’t want anyone to be counting my money. It was fine with five cars and doing well, managing all by myself. I had the advantage of being knowledgeable in technical matters, and I knew what to do. I would just come and say – exchange this, do this, and this saved me some money because it’s not always easy with car mechanics.”

  • Training and service in the U. S. Army.

  • Circumstances of his leaving the military service and journey to Hora Svaté Kateřiny.

  • Celé nahrávky
  • 1

    Poděbrady, 30.03.2008

    délka: 02:39:07
    nahrávka pořízena v rámci projektu Memory and the History of Totalitarian Regimes
Celé nahrávky jsou k dispozici pouze pro přihlášené uživatele.

I got shot in my belly, the blood was splashing inside me and I couldn’t control my legs anymore. But the lights ahead of us in the distance were already the lights of Berlin

Milan Paumer as a member of US Army
Milan Paumer as a member of US Army
zdroj: Fotografii poskytl p. Tomáš Pazourek <>

  Milan Paumer was born April 7, 1931 in Kolín, but he spent his childhood in Poděbrady. From the beginning, his parents brought him up in the spirit of Sokol and the legionnaire ideals. He learnt the machine fitter‘s trade and studied at an industrial school for machinery in Kolín. In the 1940s, he met the Mašín brothers, and after February 1948, he became the driver for the resistance group. In October 1952, he began his military service from which he escaped in 1952 using a false „let-pass“. He joined the Mašín brothers‘ group as they headed for the American sector in Berlin. Out of the group‘s original five members, only the Mašín brothers and Paumer made it to Berlin after 29 days; Zbyněk Janata and Václav Švéda were caught and then executed in Czechoslovakia in 1955. Paumer served in the U. S. Army for five years, of which 19 months were spent in Korea. After his return from Korea he settled in Miami, Florida, and worked as a pool serviceman, a motel receptionist, a nutria hunter, an aircraft engine repairman, and a taxi driver. He eventually became an owner of a small taxi company, which he ran until his retirement in 1998. In 2001 he permanently returned to the Czech Republic. He gave lectures, especially for young people, and became an honorary member of the Club of Political Prisoners and of the 53rd Scout Troop - scout troop of the Mašín brothers. He also became a member of the Conservative Party. In 2008 he was awarded a plaquette from the Czech Prime Minister. He died on July 22, 2010.