Colonel Henryk Wrona

* 1945

  • “Only quite recently did I learn that there was the headquarters of our entire army close to our division's headquarters at Hradec Králové airfield. Only after many years I found out, as after graduating I was working at our division's staff, that we were a force of 28 000 soldiers with more then 700 tanks entering Czechoslovakia. Back then, I knew nothing, being just a second lieutenant with two years of service. No one told us that there wasn't only the 11th Division going, but also the 10th Division, the 1st Independent strike battalion, the 6th Airborne division... I found out only after I did my own research into it, as I wanted to know what had happened, what the big picture was.”

  • “Can I quote what we were yelling at each other across the Olše river with my peers? It went like this, they would shout: 'Vy Poloky, bo vy mate na dupě boloky (You are Poles, as you have sores on your asses.)' And we would be like: 'Vy Pepiky, bo vy mate na dupě knoflíky. (You are Pepiks, as you have buttons on your asses.)'. That was a typical moment I was able to remember."

  • “Sometimes people would come in cars, they would abuse us, stating that we were invaders. They would show us posters stating that 1938 equals 1968. I would say that our soldiers didn't understand this comparison between 1938 and 1968. But me, with my roots in Cieszyn and in Zaolzie, I could see this connection between Anschluss and this intervention of ours.”

  • “Before crossing the border at Lubawka, we had another stop, and it had been revealed that I, second lieutenant Wrona, was supposed to spearhead the whole 11th Dresden Armored Division, carrying a map showing our route. There was no final destination, they would just give me pieces of map in 1:100 000, two sheets stuck together, and when we would reach the end of the road, they would give me another set. I had no idea where I was going. At 20 kilometers per hour, those five T-55M medium tanks I had were penetrating into Czechoslovak territory that night.”

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    Praha, 22.05.2021

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We crossed the border at midnight on 21 August 1968, it all went like clockwork

Henryk Wrona during the interview in May 2021
Henryk Wrona during the interview in May 2021
zdroj: Post Bellum

Henryk Wrona was born on 15 March 1945 in Český Těšín, but after just a few days his parents took him to the nearby village of Zamarski. He grew up in Upper Silesia, in the town of Mikołów near Katowice. He did secondary technical school, then graduated from armor units school in Poznań as an officer. In October 1967, he joined a recon unit of the 11th Armored Division in Żagań. On 21 August 1968, he entered Bohemia with his unit, spearheading the 11th Division‘s advance. Until early November 1968, his duty was to guard the Division‘s headquarters in Hradec Králové. After the invasion, he started to study at the General Staff Academy. In 1974, he rejoined the recon forces and started training as a paratrooper. After breaking his leg during a jump, he left his unit on medical grounds and started teaching reconnaissance at the General Staff Academy. During the martial law in Poland, he served as a military commissar in a factory in Lubartów. In 1987, he left the army on medical grounds. Later, he was working as a logistics director at a Bingo company. In 2021, he was living in Warsaw.