Česlav Roubíček

* 1923  †︎ 2017

  • „There were horrible moments, for example my first experience - we went to extinguish a fire in the shipyard and the first thing I saw when we came into that wrecked place - it really shook me - was a dead shredded horse and a female arm, a torn off female arm. This was a terrible experience that I couldn’t cope with it for a long time. It would haunt me in my dreams for many nights. You know, it has left its mark on each and every one of us in a way. To see so many corpses – you don’t get to see that normally.”

  • „It was a bit worse with food. You probably wouldn’t believe me if I told you that every day we had soup of a different color. Most of us somehow couldn’t eat it anyway. We had also potatoes with some side dish. Well, we weren’t exactly starving compared to the prisoners. We also had these packages with food from home. They really saved us. Our parents and relatives in the Protectorate were sending us food and other things. Of course, they had a hard time themselves, but still, everybody had some acquaintances and it was possible to something every now and then. So we would get a box from home every month or week, some even every day. Mostly it was bread or even flour. When there was also a cigarette or chocolate, we mostly shared it with the others. Some of the guys were also older or even married and could cook. So sometimes we would cook. I remember that once we were cooking plum dumplings which the Germans didn’t know. And when they tasted it, they were surprised how good it was. Well, that’s it for food I guess. Sometimes we also had the opportunity, as it was by the sea, to buy fish on the market or they would bring crayfish in a bucket. Half of the people didn’t eat it and the other half sat down to the bucket and sucked out the crayfish.”

  • „In Kiel we were trained as fire fighters. It was a quite tough training but I guess rather usual, similar to what for example our fire fighters have to go through. For example we had to identify and know the effects of certain poisons like Yperit and the like. Thank God, as they used to say “Gott sei Dank”, that they weren’t used. I think that the old gas masks we were handed out wouldn’t help us too much.”

  • „We received an announcement that we are required to come to this office. And again it was all in German – there was no Czech-German translation or anything, everything had to be in German. The worst of all was that the consigner was the Wehrmachterreferat, which was the army department. Our parents were scared most of all – they were afraid that we would have to enroll in the army and fight. Consider there was war and all the young Germans were with the colors and they didn’t want us to go to war, too. And now we get an invitation from the Wehrmachtsreferat.”

  • „There were several lines of dead bodies lying on the street. They weren’t even burned or charred, torn apart or anything like that. They suffocated, because the flames took all of their oxygen away. That’s where the German precision came to light. Next to every body there was an envelope with the things that were found with that body. So they would typically put the person’s documents in it. Then came a lorry and they loaded them on them. Don’t forget that in the heat, after a day on the street the corpses didn’t smell too good. So they took them to big pits which they had dug beforehand and buried them there.”

  • „The life of a fire fighter is probably the same everywhere. The daily routine is to clean the car, in the winter to clean for example the water hydrant. We went through all of this with the difference that we had to mange the air raids as well. When an air raid was on – and there were many of them – all the Germans had to hide in the air-raid shelters while we had to get dressed and into our car. As soon as first fires were reported, we had to be there regardless of whether there were still bombs falling or not. The worst thing is the splinters – the fragments of the shells.”

  • Celé nahrávky
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    V Praze, 29.07.2008

    délka: 53:09
    nahrávka pořízena v rámci projektu Portraits of Prague citizens
Celé nahrávky jsou k dispozici pouze pro přihlášené uživatele.

„We definitely saw something that I hope mankind will not and should not see for a long time to come… You know, it has left its mark on each and every one of us in a way. To see so many corpses – you don’t get to see that normally.”

Česlav Roubíček (1942)
Česlav Roubíček (1942)
zdroj: Archiv pamětníka

Mr. Česlav Roubíček was born in 1923 in Lysé nad Labem. In July 1942 he passed the state leaving exam at a grammar school in Prague. A few months after his exam, he was assigned to a forced labor unit that was about to leave for Hamburg. The transport left at the beginning of October 1942. In Hamburg the slave laborers were given fire-fighters‘ uniforms and were transported to the port of Kiel, where they took part in a training. They were employed in the category Zwangsarbeiter - slave laborers. Česlav Roubíček was trained for the so-called Luftschutz - anti-aircraft defense. Their main tasks included extinguishing fires of buildings and the disposing of debris and victims of air raids. Mr. Roubíček was in Germany until August 1943, when his group was replaced by a transport of further young men. After his return to the Protectorate he worked as an assistant worker in the steelworks Kladno and later in the railway works in Nymburk. He personally took part in the Prague uprising of May 1945. He fought at the Vršovice train station.