Zdeněk Zelený

* 1924  †︎ 2018

  • "Down in the castle there was a gate and inside of that gate there was another gate. There stood this wooden cart that we used to call 'Black Amnesty'. It stood on two big wheels. It was used when somebody died during interrogation or when he was 'tortured' to death ... I don't like to use these terms. When we were going out we had to march right around 'the Black Amnesty' with our hat auf. So you can imagine how we all must have felt."

  • "I remember on 14th March, when Emauz monastery was on fire, a two hundred fifty kilo bomb fell into our bathroom. That was the one really 'enjoyable' moment. We had no place to live after that, we had nothing to eat. It was just after monthly ration of tickets for food. My mum as a proper housewife said that she will go to get some food. So she went, she put the groceries on the window, the bomb came, made a snarl and our food was gone. Potato bread was all we had got left - not so much of a healthy food. But there was nothing we could do. War is war."

  • "Right around the corner, in Podskalska street, there was another Jewish shop - Grotz. A beautiful Jewish name Grotz! It was a really nice boy. Smaller boy he was. And he always walked me home. Really nice kid. Then we started hearing rumours that they are prepairing a transport for boys, the Jewinsh boys. When I saw that it was inevitable and he was goining to go to Terezín, I was wearing a scout belt. I took it off and I told him: 'Here. So you can at least have a scout belt.' He put it right on. And can you imagine that that belt survived with him through concentration camp? That was very lucky."

  • “I came into the cell. They always put you there completely naked. I looked around – it was a dungeon about twelve metres long and the width was such that you could just stretch your arms. The walls were made of flat stones, and it was terribly cold in there. I looked at the wall and thought: ´What a beautiful plastering they have here.´ I touched it and it was actually hoarfrost. I thought: ´Well, that’s a nice welcome.´ The way they did it was that they put you in there naked, and then they would throw in one foot-rag for you, later a hat, for instance – with the purpose to keep you undressed for as long as possible. That was the correction cell in the Mírov prison.”

  • “In some places, the camp was some five hundred metres from the factory, and when it was freezing in winter, they escorted us to the barrack huts, and we would have to ask each other: ´Hey, help me to get my trousers down.´ You had to lie down. The work clothes were frozen – we had mining trousers and a jacket, it was like a bad coat. I would lie down and pull off my frozen trousers, put them to stand in the corner, and only when they thawed out, was I able to fold them. There was no hot water, so we were dirty like pigs because of that red clay, but we only rinsed our hands and faces. We would take the mess tin and I went through the camp a kilometer into the kitchen. A warden and a cook were standing there, and they had scales and he would weight three potatoes for you. The potatoes were covered in something and the prisoner had to hold the scales and the warden checked it. Then he placed the potatoes into the prisoner’s mess tin. You would get a half frozen soup poured over that. Then you walked the kilometer back carrying your meal. Before you came back to the barrack, the soup was frozen. I would eat my lunch there, if you can call it that. Then they began calling us for additional work. There were mullock heaps, and just for the practice purposes, we would be ordered to move the pile fifty or hundred metres away, just so that we didn’t get lazy or entertain thoughts of escape. That was our program after our work shift ended.”

  • “The oil fields were restricted for the military, and they advised us not to go there. There were old women, who lived in poor cottages. They needed men to help them – to cut wood, or to get something for heating… One day I was sitting by a gutter which led from an old oil pump, and there was oil flowing in the stream... I thought: ´We could somehow get that oil from the water.´ I brought three small planks, made a dam from them, and the oil stopped flowing. We found an old barrel. During an afternoon, for instance, we would fill the barrel halfway. We couldn’t fill it to the brim, because we wouldn’t be able to carry it − we didn’t have any strength left. These old housewives would then use the crude oil, and they would soak whatever they had in it, and use it for heating.”

  • “One guy who spoke perfect German took me to him and he told me: ´He is a dentist, I’ll arrange it all for you.´ I thought: ´Well, God’s will be done. If it helps me, I’ll let him pull out five of my teeth, whatever, only if it helps.´ I came to him, he looked at me and said: ´Fine, come here tomorrow, then.´ I was staying in the barrack with one group, and they were all Germans there. I came to him the following day. The German told me: ´Sit down here, ´ and he washed his hands – so far so good. He was a doctor, a dentist, and he held something like a thick awl in his hand. He asked me: ´Where does it hurt? ´ Three other prisoners approached me. The Germans held my hands, one knelt on my feet. The dentist came to me and asked: ´Which one is it?´ He said: ´It’ll probably be the one next to it, let me take care of it.´ He pricked in there and pulled the tooth out at the first try. The guy was so skillful. I still keep giving him thanks that he didn’t make me suffer pain at that time.”

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They needed to get rid of us, because we were training the others

Zdeněk "Káďa" Zelený
Zdeněk "Káďa" Zelený

Zdeněk „Káďa“ Zelený was born December 1, 1924 in Prague. His father had been a legionnaire in Russia. Zdeněk grew up in a Catholic family and he has kept his faith all his life. In 1934 he joined the Scout section Legio Angelica, headed by father Clement. After the Protectorate banned Junák, he continued scouting activities, like many of the other sections, under the auspices of a club for Czechoslovak tourists. At that time he graduated from an technical school. During the war he was sent to conscripted labour in Nuremberg at the factory Herman Göring Werke. The factory‘s filing cabinet was destroyed during an air raid, and Zdeněk and several of his colleagues used this opportunity to escape to Prague. A search for them, however, was launched in Czechoslovakia, and Zdeněk and his friends went to Romania instead. As the front approached, the group eventually got the courage to return to Czechoslovakia. During the last year of the war, he worked in Prague at Jinonice, in a factory which specialized in repairing aircraft engines. After the war, Zdeněk got back into his scouting activities and on 15 May, 1945 founded Maják (meaning Lighthouse), which was later transformed into a scout centre. He actively helped in the establishment of other sections all over the country. In 1951 he was arrested and sentenced in a fabricated trial. He spent a total of nine years in various prisons and labor camps. He was released on parole in 1960, in an amnesty agreement. In 1968 he was involved in the restoration of Junák, but the organization was banned again two years later. Zdeněk „Káďa“ Zelený passed away on February, the 21st, 2018.