“When the war began, I was sixteen. I just finished the eighth grade. Exactly a month after the war began, Germans arrived to us. They had wonderful cars with all the equipment as well as motorcycles, bicycles, shovels and heavers. They did not harass anybody in any way, they did not murder or beat anyone, they only begged for water, eggs and milk. When the local people brought them food, they made them eat first and only then they ate the rest. A month or month and a half later the Germans left and Hungarians came there. They didn’t spend much time there either, maybe a month and a half. And then, the government gave over several Ukrainian districts, including the Vinnice district, to Romanians. We thus became governed by Romanians.”
“Dad was arrested. He worked as the main agronomist in the sugar refinery in Derebchin in the Vinnice district of the Shargorod region. They arrested him on March 2, 1938. He was a very hard-working man and he really worked honestly. I saw my father rarely, because he always got up very early and he got back from work very late. He fought against alcohol addiction and theft, which are the two vices that are spread widely in Ukraine. They wrote a false accusation against him, the administrator Kotov, doctor Fartushnyak and worker Tristahunová. They made up all kind of nonsense against him. At that time, people were getting arrested based on such accusations. Dad was thus arrested. They took him to a meeting in the sugar refineries headquarters in Vinnice, but it was only a decoy. They arrested him right there. I have never seen my father afterwards.”
“Nobody knew where they were taking us. They brought us to the Far East, to the city of Chita. The train stood there for a long time, for over an hour, and then they carried us to Mongolia, about twenty or thirty kilometres over the border, to a town which was called Altank Bulag. But what a town! There were four or five circular yurtas standing there in a field and they called it a town. Then what happened was that they no longer needed the ten of us who were in charge of supply provisions, and therefore they distributed us among various units. I thus got assigned to the 277th artillery regiment. Later they told us to prepare wooden sticks, about a meter or metre and a half long. We had no idea what they were for. We made them and we set out to cross over the Gobi Desert. They informed us that we were going into war with Japan. I have walked over the entire Gobi Desert. There was only sand and nothing grew there. A lot of things which had been discarded lay strewn there and senior officers took them. There were beds, bedside tables, and even a piano. That was because horses would not be able to withstand such temperatures; the heat was over fifty degrees centigrade. The crossing of the desert was very difficult, because it was terribly hot. There was no water, they were bringing us water in rubber bags from Chita. Each of us received a glass flask per day. We ate only dry food. It was not possible to walk during the day and we walked only in early mornings and in evenings. During the day we used the sticks that we carried and we placed a canvas over them and we then lay under it on the hot sand. We were all totally exhausted, and our shirts were all white from sweat and salt.”
I knew that my dad was Czech, but it was dangerous to speak about it at that time
Stanislav Švarc was a born in 1925 in Ukraine in the village Vyshechadayevskiy-sakharniy zavod. His father was a Czech and his mother came from a Polish-Ukrainian family. As a little boy he experienced famine, but fortunately the family survived it: what helped them was the fact that Stanislav‘s father worked in the sugar refinery in Derebchin as the head agronomist and that he was also a good hunter - he was shooting pigeons and sparrows. In 1938 Stanislav‘s father was arrested for alleged anti-state activity and executed soon after. The authorities, however, announced to the family that he was sentenced to ten years of imprisonment without the right to write and receive letters. Stanislav‘s mother tried to find out more after the arrival of the Germans, who had discovered mass graves of executed people, but her effort was in vain. Stanislav Švarc was sixteen when the war began. He experienced the short-lived rule by the Germans, then by Hungarians and eventually by Romanians. At that time he had a side job as a musician in a band which was established by Jews who had been evicted from nearby Bessarabia. Immediately after the arrival of the Soviets he was drafted to the Red Army and after training near Kostroma he was sent to the eastern front, where he served as a radio operator and signalman. He remembers the taking of Kaliningrad, where he was sent to gather supplies. He was injured by a grenade shrapnel, but he soon recovered. In his free time he enjoyed music and he played the piano and accordion. When the war was over, his unit was ordered to board a train but none of them knew where it was taking them. The train went all the way to the border with Mongolia. Stanislav survived a three-week march over the Gobi Desert as well as three months in the foothills of Greater Chimgan Mountains, where the commanders left him and two other soldiers to guard weapons. What was to last two days eventually took three months before they returned for them. The fighting in Prussia and the service in Manchuria, where his unit was later sent, eventually took a total of seven years. During all this time Stanislav Švarc played music in his spare time, he accompanied the army music band and he performed for the main staff on various occasions. He had no employment after the war, and it was difficult for him to find a job. He eventually found a place in a music band which performed in a restaurant in Vinnice. Since he was working at nights, he was able to complete his studies and when he married a Polish girl and moved to the town of Zhmerynka, he became a teacher in the local school. He learnt the complete truth about his father only in the 1990s, when Stanislav Švarc Sr. was declared to be innocent. At that time, his daughter moved permanently to the Czech Republic as a Czech national. Stanislav followed her several years later and he now lives in Police nad Metují. Stanislav Švarc died in 2019.