Bedřich Polák

* 1920  

  • “In 1942 a German worker named Hilmann was assigned to our section in Olomouc. He was a controller from the Ministry of Agriculture and he spoke perfect Czech with a slight Prague accent. I asked him where he had learned his Czech: ‘between my ages of 6 and 14 I visited my grandmother in Kladsko for the whole summer vacations regularly. Some families living there were Czech, thus I have learned the language.’ He was drinking heavily. When he got drunk he presented his right face. He was a double of Konstantin von Neurath. If there was a possibility of an assassination at some public rally Hilmann was ordered to go there instead of Neurath. He had to learn Neurath’s gestures, especially to heil. Hilmann really looked like Neurath. When Heydrich arrived to Prague on 30th September in 1941 Hilmann was put aside and fired. They sent him to Olomouc. But he became an alcoholic there and was replaced to Ostrava. I had to work with him for six months, which was horrible. I had to warn other people under some pretext Hilmann was a SS-man: ‘Be careful! Troubles could emerge with this guy.’”

  • “Americans bombed the town Ostrava on 29th August in 1944. Not far away from Ostrava a facility in Zábřeh had been set aflame. The pilots didn’t recognize the location of their target exactly, so they bombed the place where the heavy smoke rose up to the sky. Ostrava, Slezská Ostrava, Zábřeh and Muglin were hit hard. Around 800 people had been killed, around 5000 injured. We were sent to determine the damage instead of work the next day. I went with Dr. Komárek, e.g. when we found a flour sack slightly covered with debris or broken glass we wrote it off as destroyed one. Similar method we applied in one slaughterhouse. We found there a pig wounded by a fragment of glass, so we wrote off the whole stuff. In this way we have sabotaged a little. We were surprised nobody denounced us.”

  • “Finally a decision was made – probably it was a destiny, but bad luck – when the last month of the war had begun, Čermák ordered to redeploy the whole group to Beskydy Mountains. The redeployment was scheduled on 5th of March. Unfortunately, in the morning of the 3rd of March a roundup had started. Especially Mrs Štěpánková had saved a lot of people. She immediately went to warn as much friends as possible in person. To use a phone was forbidden. She instructed them to hide or leave for Beskydy if they could. Čermák had given us instruction – to me and Dr. Komárek – to stay in Ostrava, because I had been in contact with a police academy in Hulvanky trough a dealer Chvostka. We had organized the resistance movement with the academy. Our task was unclear yet, but we considered seizing the power station Třebovice, the post office and the radio. Around 400 attendees were in the academy including two collaborators. We counted on that both would be liquidated as soon as the revolt would start and the rest would occupy the three places. But Čermák with others were arrested in the morning on the 3rd of April. We were arrested two days later in Ostrava. I had suspected something had gone wrong, and I had wanted to escape, but Dr. Komárek had leg prosthesis and could not walk without a stick. We were good friends so I had decided to stay with him.”

  • “Once I have mentioned somewhere I had participated in sabotage activities in western Bohemia. Thus I got an offer to join a resistance group of Slezský Junak. The group was lead by V. Čermák. A system of ‘3’ was in place. Cermak took me to Heřmanice to some other guy – I don’t remember his name – who had been handing over to me different stuff, e.g. cans, drugs, bandages, which I delivered to Beskydy. There I gave it to another companion. At first I was really suspicious, because I arrived to a railway station Ostravica, there waited a man dressed like a forester, I spoke the code word and gave him the stuff. I also knew about another activity. After I met my first wife, we were visiting Mrs. Dudová in Hamrovice every second week. My wife managed to obtain some extra food coupons. The reason was the way, how the coupons were packed for distribution in a market hall of Vítkovice. It was allowed to distribute the coupons without affixing them on the counting sheets, just packed in the parcel hundred coupons each. My wife took away some parcel from time to time and we delivered it to a small store placed not far away from a cottage of Bezruč. The owner of the store named Sagan lived in a very small flat with his sister. Sagan died after the war and his sister got married to some businessman, who then build a villa on the spot.”

  • “The last day before execution we were shaving our faces at Gestapo headquarters. I and Čermák together, his face looked horrible: one of his eyes was knocked out, four wounds on his head, really horrible look at him… We were not allowed to speak. One SS-guard was standing by our side in order to prevent us to commit suicide which would mean eluding more suffering. Thus I met Čermák one day before his execution. Those with death sentences were transported to the polish part of the town Tesin where mass graves had been prepared already. They were executed by a shot in nape, their hands bind by a phone cable. After the exhumation it was impossible to identify the victims according their faces because all faces were completely blast to pieces." "Why was Čermák so brutally treated by Gestapo? What was the Gestapo interested in? Do you have any idea?" "Our organization was uncovered not only by Gestapo, but by the secret service of Canaris and by the military counterintelligence too. The Gestapo had been postponing the overall raid against us because they wanted to arrest as much members of the group as possible. They knew a lot of people were involved. Finally they reported to Berlin that the biggest resistance group in the area of Ostrava was uncovered with 1600 members approximately. This was the reason why the order came from Berlin to execute all arrested members of the group.”

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    Krnov, 12.08.2008

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„People should get back to reason and wake up...“

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Bedřich Polák

Bedřich Polák was born on 28th February in 1920 in Olomouc. His father was a gardener; his mother took care about household. Polák attended local elementary school, later he studied in high school. He wanted to become a forester and he left the high school after four years. His uncle, a winemaker living in Yugoslavia, offered him a job in his winery facility with a prospect of becoming the owner of the facility in the future. Polák left for Yugoslavia at the age of 17. International politics were worsening rapidly in those days, so Polák  decided to return home in September 1938. During the mobilization of troops on both sides, he had patrolled the railway line from Hanušovice to Jeseník as a member of The Boy Scouts Movement. During the occupation he found a job at a farm of a relative. But he became seriously ill and was hospitalized. This helped him to avoid a forced labor deployment in the Third Reich, which was a common practice for the youth. Until the end of 1940 Polák had been helping his father in the Botanical Gardens of Olomouc where he had sorted seeds. Later he moved to Prague in the company Obilosvaz. From there he was replaced to south Bohemia as a controller. From the very beginning of the Second World War Polák had been involved in the resistance movement. After he moved to Ostrava he joined a resistance group called Slezsky Junák led by Vladimír Čermák. Polák‘s role was to carry messages, to collect food coupons, and to report on food supplies under control of the Ministry of Agriculture. He was detained on the 5th of April in 1945 in Ostrava after his group was betrayed. He eluded  capital punishment because the war was coming to an end and Gestapo officers needed detainees to shred documents. Polak was soon after released. From 1950 on, he lived in Opava with his family. After the war he again worked as a controller in The Ministry of Agriculture. From 2002 he to today he lives in Krnov as a hotel operator.