Ing. Jiří Kolda

* 1942

  • „They gave me an injection. I asked what for and he told me to calm down, that it was adrenalin to strengthen the heart and some morphine. I was naïve in thinking they would transport me to some Czech hospital. Red Cross’ flags were flying all around Prague, there were plenty of wounded by the Czech Radio building, by the St. Wenceslas statue. As we were passing Hlávka’s bridge, I was banging my hands against the ambulance’s door because there was a hospital on the Štvanice island. We drove through the Štrossmayer’s square. Then I realized they were taking me to Dejvice to the Soviet Embassy compound. There was a wall made of tanks there, protecting the building. One of them had to move out to let us in. We entered Stromovka and stopped in front of the first building, a summer residence. There the officer got out of the ambulance. There were many officers there. Since no battles were to be fought, they just smoked and chatted. He said that I was the one who attacked them with a weapon. They carried me out on a stretcher and brought me to some bushes where they dumped me on the ground. A soldier with an assault rifle squatted next to me. I was already losing consciousness due to the significant blood loss. It was dawn, around 5 a.m. I was falling asleep when I overheard: ‘Did he die already?’ The soldier said: ‘Not yet.’ Suddenly it became cold. At once they pulled me out from the bushes, loaded me on a stretcher and put me to another ambulance. Suddenly I received attention. The officer measured my pulse. I had about twenty, really low. They were probably waiting for an instruction where to take me. Meanwhile – and that is important – the first Ministry workers came to work at around 6 a.m. and saw all the mess. The bookcase was shattered in the office, paradoxically full of Marx, Engels and Lenin. They asked the gatekeepers who told them that Vilímek was taken away in a troop carrier and the second one with a blanket on his face in an ambulance. Surprisingly, they acted quickly. They notified the minister who contacted general Chlad, a Volhynia Czech who fought in Svoboda’s army. By coincidence he attended the same school as the Soviet general in charge of Prague’s occupation. They brought him the Soviet cartridges from the ministry. Two unarmed people disappearing from the ministry – that was apparently too much even for the Russian mayhem. Based on that they received an order to save my life and return me in a decent state.”

  • “I don’t know what was the name of the soldier. In 1990 I told my story to someone from the Institute of History, Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences. They told me to contact an editor of Izvestia, Šinkarjev. We had met. I told him in Russian what had happened to me and that I’d appreciate if he tried to find this Soviet soldier. That I’d like to talk to him on the phone. I suppose that he thought he shot me dead. And perhaps he was feeling guilty for the rest of the life since he knew that I didn’t attack him, that I had my arms lifted up. Him saying that I attacked him was his defense. He was simply scared. This Šinkarjev heard me out, nodded his head and did nothing. So I have no information about this soldier’s fate.”

  • “When he said: ‘Ruky věrch, suda, suda,’ I knew that I had to follow him. With my hands lifted high I walked towards him. He did an incredible mistake. Instead of walking behind me he was moving backwards in front of me. He walked through the door, missed another door and hit his back against a table in the office of the deputy. Since his finger was on the trigger with the gun unlocked, in cramp he fired an assault rifle burst from one and a half meters towards my heart. According to the traces and cartridges that were found, it was about fifteen or twenty bullets. I was extremely lucky because at the moment of being shot I was just passing through the door and in order to make it through with my hands lifted up I turned a little. So those shots entered my chest below the sternum but then got out again, even if missing the heart just by one centimeter. My rib was shattered. As I was falling I got hit by another shot in my arm, this has had health effects ever since. Obviously, I made a horrible roar because of the pain and the shock. I can confirm what they say about one’s whole life flashing backwards through one’s mind at such a moment. I lost my consciousness, fell on my knees, hit an office cabinet and thus regained consciousness. Apart from that I can say that death by gunshot can be fairly pleasant and painless; it is as if someone flicked you with a whip. An acute hit but there is no actual pain. Then I came around. Okay, I am alive. I put my hand in front of my mouth, trying to cough and to see whether there was blood in my mouth. I kept telling myself: they will leave, my father is a doctor, I will crawl towards the telephone and call for help. Then I heard another soldier rushing in, probably an officer. The Russian soldier realized his mistake so he said that I attacked him with a weapon. The officer put me down on the floor and started searching me through, asking about the weapon. Obviously, I had none. Then some medic arrived, saw me covered in blood, unzipped my jacket, saw my bloody t-shirt, zipped the jacket again and said that I was dead. But I wasn’t. I was shivering and asked for a blanket. They heard me communicate in Russian. Than the medic put his palm on my scapula and saw that it wasn’t bloody. Thus he realized it was a tangential wound. In about half an hour, someone came with a stetecher. They loaded me. I could see that is was just after 3:30 a.m.“

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    Praha, 06.10.2015

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The Soviet soldiers asked: did he die already?

University student; September 1961
University student; September 1961

Jiří Kolda was born on 24 March 1942 in Prostějov. In 1947 he and his parents moved to Prague. His father was a physician who refused to join the Communist Party. His mother was the daughter of a butcher. Because of this family background, Jiří had trouble with admission to university. Eventually, he graduated from a textile engineering school in Liberec. Then he got a job at the Ministry of Transport. In the night from the 24th to the 25th August 1968, at the time of the Warsaw Pact invasion to Czechoslovakia, he had a night shift in the control room. The Ministry was overrun by the Soviet troops who were searching for weapons. By mischance one of the soldiers opened fire against Jiří. Then the soldiers transported him to the Stromovka park where they left him for several hours without medical care. Only when his colleagues from the Ministry started looking for him the next morning, he got treated in a field hospital and the Soviets allowed for a Czech ambulance to come and pick him up. He sustained severe injuries; one of the bullets missed his heart by one centimeter. He has suffered from the effects of the delayed medical care for the rest of his life.