Ing. Oldřich Cech

* 1922  †︎ 2019

  • “During the day we were normal students – drawing sketches and the like – and in the night we were exercising. Once I was with Honza Koudelka in a tram. He had a suitcase underneath him. All of a sudden, there was a police check, the Gestapo controlled the ID card’s of the people on the tram. He went completely pale. We shoved the Gestapo-men our student ID card’s. After they had left I asked him: ”why did become so pale?” “I’ve got machine-gun components in my suitcase.” It was all being transported via a friend of mine from the armaments factory to Moravia and Slovakia; I’ve got everything written down in those papers over there. Weapons and all the stuff…” “So you experienced “Heydrichiáda” (a large-scale retaliation campaign by the Germans in the Protectorate after the assassination of Heydrich – note by the translator) in Brno?” “Unfortunately I did.” “What was it like?” “It was terrible, we were close to the Kounice dormitories and heard the shooting from there. That’s why we even increased our resistance effort because we thought we have to do something even if it should cost us our lives. There was an incredible hatred against the Germans.” “How did you get the weapons?” “With the help of officers, they all had some connections in the armaments factory. Honza Koudelka had connections, too. Everybody was given some task and it’s all described in this book here. I was connected to one boy, who unfortunately died as well, and he smuggled the weapons through Moravia to Slovakia.” “Why to Slovakia?” “Because the partisans in Slovakia needed weapons as well.”

  • “Later on it got a lot worse. The Communists wanted us to say that the Communist party directed us. But me and our leader Břetislav Logaj – we got in touch soon after the war again – refused to say: “ We were led by the Communist party. We were communists, the communist youth.” We weren’t linked to the communists at all! It was Logaj, his father who founded the legions, it is plainly written here in the book, Logaj was acquainted to General Bílý through his father Major Logaj. All of this stands in this book. In short, we were well connected and it was all directed at London. So we didn’t want to have anything in common with the communists. And the group from Moravia, they even blew up trains and fought with the guerillas against the Germans until the end, in Moravia and also in Prague. Our organization was well established and lasted until the end.”

  • “The sentence fell on January 23, 1945, in Waldheim. We were a group of five and there were three death sentences. Here they are: Koudelka, Vašek and Slezák were in the first group, then the second group. Our lawyer was some Segebart but he didn’t say anything, he was a Czech and a German.” “Were the verdicts executed?” “No, that’s what I want to say. The verdicts weren’t executed, we were freed. It was like this. On May 5, 1945, came the order from Berlin to execute us. But the director of the Waldheim prison wasn’t a Gestapo-man but just a normal prison warden, so to speak. He said he won’t any more executions on telephone orders. But already some two weeks before this they had put the prisoners in chains so that they couldn’t commit suicide. So we kind of knew that they wouldn’t execute anymore.”

  • “Look, they took us to the interrogation, they gave you a few slaps and then they started beating you up. It’s hard for me to talk about it.” “At the interrogations, they basically wanted you to confirm what they told you, right? That’s how they did it?” “Look, you had to play a fool. You had to have some method. It was necessary to hold out the beating and not to remember anything. You had to stand their beating. You know what’s interesting? When I was kind of sorting this out for you I had to stop and sleep for a while. It was a strong experience and the fear and stress is still there. It’s hard for me to even talk about it. You know, it kind of stays with you for the rest of your life.” “Because it was about being or not being…these Gestapo men beat what they wanted out of everybody.” “Well not everybody succumbed. They didn’t get out anything of this German and it was him who told me how to behave and what to do during the interrogation. He said it was best to fall unconscious so they would pour water over you and leave you alone. He said it was the best you could do. You rather had to make a fool of yourself there. And you mustn’t have been a coward. This poor guy, Štěpán Hilek, was there with me. He was a kiosk vendor and was arrested for telling a friend not to show him some leaflet. He was a kiosk vendor, a stupid, he didn’t know what was in that leaflet. They gave him a slap and he started to cry, so they threw him to the ground and kicked his kidneys to mush. You had to hold out the beating and not fall on the ground. Not to let them break you. They only knocked out one of my teeth and the doctor said: “We’ll fix this and it’ll hold until your death.” I saw this doctor – Čapek was his name – one more time in Jihlava but that was only when the Gestapo in Jihlava was just transporting me. Look, that the Gestapo was beating me up, I don’t give a damn, but that a Czech policeman beat me up, that’s what really bothers me. But the second Czech policeman, who was excorting me in the train and who took my mother to the jail. He told my parents immediately what they have to burn. He took my parents to see me in jail.” “It was so benevolent?” “Because it was a regular jail, this one wasn’t run by the Gestapo. There were the usual criminals, mostly petty crimes. So that was the Czech policeman, some Pěnička, I have very good memories of him. The other one had a red badge on his arm. I approached him and had a rifle on my back, I should have shot him right away. I’d have… I shot some fifteen SS-men, maybe more, when we were taking the train…We had to, otherwise we wouldn’t have made it through. Honza was a good rifleman, me too. I’m proud that I did what I did but I never banked on it in order to promote my career or anything. This would be unfair to all the dead who are left behind. My conscience wouldn’t be able to cope with it.” “And did they ever try to win you over as a confident, to cooperate with them?” “No, not at all.”

  • “This is a blanket from jail. It’s from Zwickau, no excuse me, actually it’s from Waldheim. It’s from Waldheim.” “That’s when they released you on that 5th of May?” “Yes we took the blankets, because we didn’t have anything and this blanket was all brand-new. When we were running from Breslau (Wroclaw) to Zwickau, we had our blankets with us. Our toilet was a bucket, a simple bucket. They put some wire on it so you could carry it. I hung this bucket on my shoulder and I took the blanket and the envelopes. I waited for the prison warden to come. In jail, you had to be lined up right in front of the cell-door. He opened the door and I stood in attention with this toilet-bucket hanging on my shoulder. I stood with this crapper in the hallway and had a stupid expression on my face. Now you have to imagine the situation. Nobody was allowed to laugh. The prison officer said: “What are you doing you Blödhund (you stupid dog)?” I spoke German fluently so I replied: “Ich melde gehorsam, Herr Ober… I report obediently – just like the Good Soldier Schweik. Herr Oberwachtmeister, ich werde für unseren Führer arbeiten zum Kopfzerreisen (Sir superior prison officer, I’ll work for the Führer till my head is torn to shreds). Till my body is torn to shreds I’ll be patching up envelopes even while I’m on my way, and because I’m a decent man, I won’t shit on it, but I’ll have a crapper with me…” Jesus Christ! They boys broke out in laughter. The prison warden, could you believe this, they thought I was stupid! So they just took the bucket, put the blankets on my back there I went. They really thought I was an idiot! Well we had lots of fun like this. That was the only way to make it through. Without the fun, we wouldn’t have held out.”

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Everywhere you look, its former Communists!

Mauthasen 142.jpg (historic)
Ing. Oldřich Cech
zdroj: archiv O. Cecha a V. Janík

Oldřich Cech was born on April 11, 1922, in Dačice. Here he attended elementary school and was trained as an industrial locksmith in a factory producing agricultural machines. He then went to Brno to study a higher school of industry. In 1942 together with Jan Koudelka they founded a resistance group gathering students and later joined the organization „Union of the Youth“. The activities of the resistance movement were related mainly to the assistance to the relatives of people arrested by the Gestapo, to the transportation of people, the hiding of people wanted by the police or the Gestapo, the distribution of weapons and leaflets and sabotages. Oldřich Cech became the link between the Prague and the Moravian branch of the organization. In 1943 he went to work into a factory in Prague where he was trained by officers in reserve. His superior was one of the resistance leaders Břetislav Logaj. Logaj‘s father was linked to General Bílý who supported the resistance with military machinery. On August 31, 1944, Oldřich Cech was arrested in Dačice and transported to Brno. Here he was held for about a month and then he and other captives were transferred to Zwickau and later Waldheim. The plan was to put him on trial with the other members of the resistance movement from Vratislav. They tried to put off the trial by any means. Two of his friends, for example, managed to escape from the train and Oldřich pretended he‘s asleep so he only reported them missing later. In this way the trial took place on January 23, 1945, when it was already obvious that Germany would soon loose the war. The death sentences weren‘t exercised anymore. On May 5, 1945, Oldřich Cech was released from prison. After the war he studied the Institute of the Czech Railways. Later he studied a school for junior officers in Nové Město nad Váhom. During his stay in Nové Město nad Váhom in 1948 the Communists moved him out of his Prague apartment and confiscated all of his belongings. After his return he was given a new apartment but his belongings weren‘t returned to him. Today he lives in Prague. Oldřich Cech died on 9 October 2019.