PhDr. Ladislav Nezkusil

* 1921

  • “Before we left, before we got on the train, we sang the national anthem. Back then it was forbidden - Kde domov můj [Where Is My Home]. And the interesting thing is, the gendarmes who were there to keep the peace, there were eight of them. They stood and saluted. So we reckoned: ‘Well, boys, nice.’ They earned our respect.”

  • “Mainz was broken to bits, it was a city of something over a million, and destroyed. They said at the time that it had forty thousand dead people and about eighty thousand without shelter. When people spoke of the air raids, they said in general - the air raids demolished the houses, razed the city, but it was very complicated. What would happen, say, was that they’d raze the city, but the school in which we lived remained untouched, but there was no water, no electricity, you couldn’t cook anything. So we ate cold food. If you were wounded, the hospitals were crammed, full of people. This was all connected with the city being razed. Smoke everywhere, and when the wind blew, we’d say: ‘I can smell smoked meat.’ Like when we smoked meat in the village, when we slaughtered a pig.”

  • “And before sunrise I reached the town [of Smidary], and I went round it so that no one would see me, and I hurried on along the road to Vinary. I met one boy there, who I used to play with. I reckoned: ‘Man, this is bad.’ He was riding somewhere with some horses. He served under a farmer during the war, otherwise he was a labourer. He worked at the factory in Skřivany. He didn’t recognise me. And I thought he was pretending he didn’t recognise me, so he wouldn’t say anything, so he wouldn’t blab that he saw someone. So I told him: ‘Jarek, I’m on the run from the Reich.’ - ‘Oh, that’s you, Láďa, look at you! You’re just skin and bones. I couldn’t recognise you at all. Would you like a piece of bread?’ I said: ‘No, I’ll be home soon. Don’t delay me, but don’t tell anyone you met me.’ There was path and dirt road leading off from the main road, and that took me all the way home. I got to the slope, I ran across it. I ran across the meadow to our house, and I thought: ‘There isn’t much light yet, I’ll be in luck, no one will see me.’ Because where we lived, we bordered with the meadow. So I ran up there, and the door was closed. So I tried the latch to see if I could open it. And Dad happened to pass by, and he said: ‘I can see a bloke, I guess you’re hungry, right?’ I said: ‘Yes, I am.’ Only then did he recognise that it was me, so he opened the door. We hugged. I ran into the kitchen, Mum was preparing coffee for breakfast. She almost lost it, to put it simply. So she poured me some coffee as well, so I took the coffee, a piece of bread, and I lay down. I said: ‘I have to go sleep in the barn, so no one sees me.’ - ‘Oh, none of that, lie down here, and we’ll deny you’re here, we won’t let anyone in.’ So I slept for about a day, or even a bit longer.”

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    Hradec Králové, 26.07.2013

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The innocent suffered the most during the war

Ladislav Nezkusil
Ladislav Nezkusil
zdroj: autor Martin Reichl

Ladislav Nezkusil was born on 17 December 1921 in Vinary near Nový Bydžov. In 1942 he was drafted into forced labour in Germany. After a short stay at Camp Baumholder on the French-German border, he found himself in a paramilitary organisation whose task it was to „rebuild the Reich“. His first assignment was to the city of Mainz, damaged by bombing. He worked there for one year as a bricklayers‘ helper, and he made a good name for himself with his foremen for his skills. While rebuilding of the city he helped dig out both live and dead people from the ruins of demolished houses, he suffered through the ever-present hunger and a severe work injury. Ladislav‘s next place of abode was Kassel, where he worked on rebuilding the city with carpenters and joiners. In the next city, Zeitz, he was tasked with repairing the cooling towers of mineral-oil refineries. With the battlefront encroaching, air raids became more and more frequent. And so Ladislav decided to flee. Together with a friend they walked and rode by train all the way to Prague, whence Ladislav continued home to Vinary. After the liberation he wanted to work in farming, but he could not do so because of the injury he received in Germany. He decided to become a teacher. In 1948 he joined the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia and became chairman of the local branch. He made rounds of the village and tried to persuade farmers to join the local cooperative. He graduated from the Faculty of Arts of Charles University in Prague, he then worked at the Department of History and Philosophy of the Central Army House in Prague. In 1969 he switched to the Military Faculty of Medicine in Hradec Králové, where he lectured to both civilian and military students on Marxism and scientific Communism. He held this position for more than twenty years, until the revolution in 1989. His department was then dissolved and Ladislav went into retirement. In 2005 Ladislav Nezkusil published the book Z deníku nuceně nasazeného (From the Diary of a Forced Labourer).