Markéta Koutná

* 1921  †︎ 2013

  • "The numbers were terrible. I don’t think you can even imagine it. It was near Liptovský Svatý Mikuláš, or at least I think so, and there was a field where the wounded were lying. I had to count them and see what kind of injuries they had, whether they were seriously wounded... I avoided the doctors, because they would tell me to go away and say that this was no place for me. But Lomský wanted to know the numbers. I had to be able to endure looking at them."

  • "The train stopped and we jumped out and ran into the field and lay on the ground. After the air raid we got up, some did not get up anymore. We boarded the train again and rode on. Then another air raid, jump out, to the fields, get up. Some stayed there, but nobody cared if they were dead or wounded."

  • "In the transport from Ural there were also many Jews. I was standing there with Mariuša and another woman, I don’t remember who she was anymore, and the Polish officer said: ´Not these Jews, Jews should go back.´ This was Anders’ army. I thanked this Polish officer that in that case I was not interested in going anywhere with them. ´Fine, proshe pani (as you please).´ I got nasty with him and I spat at him and left. Mariusha stood behind me and she was pulling my sleeve to go... So I had to return to the railway station where the Jews were standing, and go back to them. Where was I to go? Nobody knew what to do. One of them told me: ´You are lucky. What are you looking for here, anyway? The Czechoslovak army is being formed in Ural.´"

  • "I was nearly trembling with fear, but the others tried to console me: ´If there is nobody at the station in Buzuluk, you will continue with us to Moscow.´ I said: ´I still don’t know what I will do.´ Finally at night we arrived to Buzuluk. Some officer told me: ´You come with me, hold on to me. I’m going to see if some of your soldiers are here.´ I grabbed his belt at the back and followed him. He got off the train and I still held him. All of a sudden a boy in a uniform asks me: ´Madam, what are you doing here? Where have you come from?´ He was a student whom I remembered from Katowice and then from Lvov. I don’t remember his name, I only know that he was from Ostrava. I let go of the officer immediately and I followed this boy. The officer was calling me, but I didn’t want to hear anything anymore, I didn’t need to know anything else. We left the railway station. The Czechs had a little house nearby, where the arriving Czechs stayed before they took them to the barracks. It served as an assembly centre, and inside it was warm and there was food. Roast pork with dumplings and sauerkraut, of course. When I saw it, I knew that I was at home and that everything was alright now."

  • "The next day in the morning we went back to Ternopil. There was another woman with me, and we rode with tied hands straight into the prison. I was standing there for some three or four hours facing the wall, then they came for me and began interrogating me: who I was, where I came from, what and why. Over and over and over. The interrogations could take about three days. They would let me rest and take me to a room where other women were already sitting. In an hour or two they would come for me again. And the interrogating would continue again and again." Interviewer: "How did they treat you during the interrogations?" – "Speaking for myself, they treated me well. I could hear screaming from some other room, but I don’t know whether this screaming was faked or real. There was wailing and so on. But I don’t know if it was staged in order to scare me or if it was real. I couldn’t tell them anything else."

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We did not report her death in order to be still able to receive her food.

Mrs Koutná during the war
Mrs Koutná during the war

Markéta (Gréta) Koutná, née Kohnová, was born March 22, 1921 into the family of a Jewish goldsmith and jeweller in Osek u Duchcova. She grew up in Teplice, but she moved to Prague with her family after the German takeover of the Sudetenland. When the situation became unbearable, Gréta escaped to Poland, from where she planned to escape to Great Britain. She married her first husband in Poland. Unfortunately, she did not manage to get into the transport heading for Britain, and when the Germans started the occupation of Poland, she had to flee eastward. She experienced many air raids during her journey, and learned that her husband had died in one of them. She lived and worked in Lvov for some time, but after the German attack on the Soviet Union she was arrested. Together with ninety other women she was forced to ride in a railway cargo truck („cattle-truck“) for one month. She spent seven months in internment near the town of Verkhneuralsk in the Chelyabinsk region. More than ninety women shared one room where they slept on the bare floor, with no heating in winter, and scarce food. After her release she experienced another complicated journey through Kyrgyzstan while trying to reach Anders‘ Polish army. She arrived to Buzuluk where she joined the Czechoslovak foreign army at the end of March 1942. She worked in the army editorial department under the command of Jakub Koutný (colonel in memoriam) whom she later married. Apart from her editorial works she also worked as an aides-de-camp to the head of the 1st department of the army staff, with whom she stayed till the end of the war and took part in many operations. After the war she continued working in the army staff for some time, but after the arrest of general Píka it became obvious to her and her husband that they had to leave the country. They received emigration permit for Israel, but Jakub Koutný was detained in the last moment. Although general Svoboda personally promised that Koutný would be able to leave the country, he was arrested and he died after many years in prison on February 4, 1960 in Leopoldov. Gréta Koutná was waiting for him in Israel all this time. After his death she moved to the USA. Markéta Koutná passed away on January, the 8th, 2013.