Tomáš Rimpel

* 1946

  • "On the night of the 26th to the 27th I spent the night there (at the Ministry of Finance) with another driver and the secretary of the minister, in the room of the People's Militia, there were makeshift cots. Sometime after midnight, Soviet troops stormed in and held us prisoner. They turned the whole ministry inside out, they searched all the offices, if something was locked, they broke it open, it was a terrible mess. They made protocols with us. There were lockers with machine guns in the People's Militia room, the Russians took it all. The next day they displayed it in Old Town Square, saying that they were weapons captured from the counter-revolutionaries. On the evening of the second day, we were released. I went home, and the public transport collapsed."

  • "Not once was a firearm used in our company during the two years I was there. That was absolutely the last thing. On the other hand, when you have someone there in front of you who has already overcome those wire roadblocks and is running away. What happens in that border guard's head is, if I stop him, I get a ticket, if he runs away, I go to jail. And if it's 200 yards in front of him, there's no choice but a machine gun. Everyone can't resist that. Especially the political training. The border company had three platoons, two companies are serving, and one company has political training. There's a senior officer in each company, a political officer, and he's beating the crap out of them, and the political training was twice a week. How terrible the West is, how they can hurt us, how we are the only ones who can stop it. On the third time, one platoon had a border left. Not everyone got a walkout. Only about ten people got a walkout. Just to Krásná to the pub, it was seven kilometres on a gravel road."

  • "There was a big reward for being detained. Luckily we didn't massacre anyone. I wasn't there even once. But I drove them around afterwards. That was an immediate alarm to the field, I had a gazik (jeep). Jump in the car, we knew where it was, the alarms showed it, there were phones everywhere. Every soldier had this "frog" with which he could tap, it was called a well. It was made of concrete, there was a cable, a socket. That's how we communicated with the company, with the officers who were on duty. When there was an arrest, that's when I went along, it was mostly East Germans. We treated them pretty well, they were mostly soaked, and hungry, and they were there for two or three days watching the border. They were given food, we lent them sweatpants while their clothes dried in the boiler room. Then the "contras" came from Cheb, or even from Prague if it was more difficult, and did the interrogations. Then we took them back to Germany. There was the first East German border company at Tripoint. There we handed them over to the East German border guards, they were bastards. They shouted at them, hit them on the back with their rifle butts and treated them like crazy criminals. These were often families with children."

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    Praha - Lipence, 08.06.2021

    délka: 01:33:11
    nahrávka pořízena v rámci projektu Stories of 20th Century
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After the election of Miloš Zeman, I had to become civically engaged

Soldier in the Border Guard - 1966
Soldier in the Border Guard - 1966
zdroj: archív pamětníka

Tomáš Rimpel was born on June 22, 1946, in Prague and grew up on the border of Pankrác and Podolí. Both his parents were of Jewish origin, survivors of concentration camps, but he himself was brought up in a non-religious spirit. After elementary school, he trained as a turner. From 1965-1967 he served in the Border Guard in Ašský výběžek, after the war he started working as a driver for the Ministry of Finance. A week after the invasion of the Warsaw Pact troops, he decided to emigrate to Germany - he then lived in Cologne and the surrounding area. At first, he worked as a turner, driver, locksmith - hydraulic engineer, later he joined a company that produced reproduction cameras as a service technician. In the 1980s he became independent and started his own business in the same field. After the Velvet Revolution, he started a business in the Czech Republic, selling and servicing reproduction cameras and other printing equipment. After long-lasting misunderstandings with his Czech partners, he closed his business in the Czech Republic and again did business only in Germany. In 2013 he returned permanently to the Czech Republic. At the time of filming in 2022, he was living in Prague - Lipenice. He became a civic activist and a member of TOP 09.