Josef Ruda

* 1927  

  • „According to a plan, we seized a village at night. We were given house numbers and went to these houses to arrest the Ustashi. It was very dangerous. I always had two men with me. We did these arrests in huge groups. So we came there, found our house and in the wee hours we knocked on the door and did the arrest and took the arrested man to the barracks. Interviewer: “The ones you arrested, were they German or Hungarian?” Answer:” they were Ustashi – Croats or Slovenes. They were the ones who were with Hitler and Pavelic. Those were the ones we arrested.” Interviewer: “Do you remember, during the arrests, did you ever get into serious danger?” Answer: “Well, it didn’t ever really happen to me but those who weren’t careful and cautious enough paid for it. I was well aware of the utmost need to be extremely cautious and circumspect at all times when arresting Ustasha members. I was pretty strong at that time and I always urged the men I had with me that unless they are cautious, they get kicked by the Ustashi… Interviewer: “So what happened, for example, to those who weren’t careful enough?” Answer: “Well they got killed and their man fled.”

  • „In Hungary, as I say, I stayed at this field hospital, which is mobile. We went from Bartch along the Drava river to Osijek. In Osijek, the 2. brigade was just being formed, so I joined it and shortly afterwards we crossed the Drava and marched back to the battlefields. The river crossing happened at night, around eleven, it was terrible… We were crossing the river in boats made of thick rubber. Up to eighteen people fitted in such a boat, I didn’t even have time to count them. When we were in the middle of the river, we heard gun and artillery fire – the Germans staged a surprise attack. The night suddenly turned into daylight. I looked left and right and saw boats being hit and sinking, disappearing under the water. A lot of boys found their grave that night in the Drava River. I somehow made it to the other side of the river. The whole night and the next day we relentlessly pushed forward. I can still remember how, for example, when we were skirmishing a field under enemy fire, you could see individual soldiers falling away, rolling over and staying still where they fell…”

  • „From Urachovec there followed an offensive, great pressure from the direction of Belgrade, many Germans and Ustasha fighters. So our field hospital was retreating. We transferred to Osijek and from there to Bartch, where the river Drava is. From Osijek to Drava there were so many carts, horses, cows and so many civilians… everybody on the run, fleeing to Hungary, which had already been liberated by the Bulgarians. We, as a field hospital, because we were mobile, we didn’t use the road, as the traffic there came to a standstill. So we walked in the ditches. When we arrived at the river Drava, there was a pontoon bridge which we used to cross the river. Yet all the poor horses and the elderly people who had to wait there for the river crossing! As the bridge was badly damaged and swinging considerably, only one cart at a time could make the river crossing. The next cart would have to wait until the preceding cart had crossed the 50 meters or so of the bridge. When we crossed the river and came to Bartch, all of a sudden there was an air raid. The planes attacked the bridge and wrecked it completely. A lot of people drowned there that day.”

  • „You know I didn’t tell anybody in the brigade them that I’m a Czech, because they laughed about Czechs, they were ignorant and uneducated idiots with no manners. They were singing derisive songs about Czechs. But in Osijek, when there was a Czech car or a tram, I called my fellow combatants and told them: “Look, those Czechs, what a well educated and cultivated nation they are, they deliver their cars and trams even to such remote areas as this city!” Those were Czech trams, it was written on them. I showed them that the Czechs are a great nation, that they’ve got character. Or a sugar refinery, the Czechs built it there, it was a Czech sugar refinery. You know, that was my sweet revenge on them.”

  • „My name is Ruda Josef, I was born in Kontchanice, in Yugoslavia. I was barely eighteen years old, when I yoined the guerrilla movement, the partisans. I was in the fourth Brod brigade. I was wounded there and got to Hungary. In Hungary, the second Osijek brigade formed and with this brigade, which I had joined, we liberated Osijek and from then on, we were victorious.”

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    ČR, Oleksovice, 14.07.2003

    (audio)
    délka: 39:07
    nahrávka pořízena v rámci projektu Stories of 20th Century
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„I was in the Brod brigade… I was wounded and got as far as Hungary. In Hungary I joined the Osijek brigade and with this unit we liberated Osijek and from then on, we were victorious.”

Josef Ruda
Josef Ruda
zdroj: Pamět Národa - Archiv

Josef Ruda was born on 10 February 1927 in Kontchanice in what today is Croatia. His family was Czech as was the entire region. In the winter of 1945 he joined the fourth Brod brigade - a guerrilla unit fighting the Ustasha units and the Germans. He was wounded shortly after that and the guerrilla field hospital, where he was transferred, was forced to flee to Hungary because the enemy started a large offensive. In the spring of 1945, Hungary saw the formation of the 2. Osijek brigade, that Ruda joined. With this unit, he crossed the river Drava and fought for the liberation of Yugoslav territories. He made it to Osijek with the brigade, where he joined the ranks of the military police, which was responsible for arresting the remaining Ustasha members. After the war, he accepted an offer of the Czechoslovak government to settle in Czechoslovakia. He became a farmer in Oleksovice in southern Moravia and resisted collectivisation of his manor until 1957.