“At that time I was going to the dining hall in the Straka Academy Building. I learnt there that a funeral would be held for student Opletal. It was held on the morning of November 15th. Several thousand of us gathered there. When they then took his coffin to Moravia, the enormous crowd decided that they would go to the city centre and protest against the occupying authorities. Germans were taken by surprise by that, because they did not have enough information. Czech police tried to stop us but they acted with care, and thus they did not have any chance to stop the massive crowd. We passed through Vodičkova Street. People were waving their hands and trams were not riding. For a moment it seemed that freedom prevailed. Unfortunately it was a mistake. The Germans soon came to their senses. Part of the protesters who got all the way to the Old Town Square were attacked by SS units which arrived there in trucks. They began arresting people. Fortunately I managed to escape into a church and I hid myself there.”
“Those who lived in the student residence hall and who were over nineteen years old were taken to concentration camps. Including the students in Brno, altogether there were one thousand two hundred students. I lived in the residence hall as well. I experienced a night raid by SS units that stormed into the large common area. We all had to stand in that room from four in the morning until the afternoon. Only then they decided that foreigners and students who were younger than nineteen would be released. We were thus able to leave, but the others were transported to Germany. Members of the university student council were executed immediately without a court trial.”
“I changed jobs several times. At last I got a job in a leather-producing factory in Třebechovice pod Orebem. The factory owner was tolerant. He even employed my Jewish classmate. He was working there until his transport to Terezín and then to Auschwitz. He was a healthy and strong boy. Although he knew that they would go to a concentration camp, he believed that he would survive. Unfortunately he has not come back. The factory director kept me there until 1943 . But after the defeat at Stalingrad the minister of propaganda Goebbels declared a so-called total war and the director was no longer able to keep me there. In winter 1943 I was sent to work in the company Krupp which had a factory in eastern Silesia. I was there until the time when the war front approached, until 1945. At that time I managed to escape home.”
“It was a cold day in March. As I walked from the train station to school I could see German airplanes landing at the airport. Convoys of vehicles began arriving soon after. It is interesting that the German cars were driving on the left and no order to do so had been issued, and in this moment the system of driving on roads thus changed for everyone.”
“The factory was about thirty kilometers east of Breslau. There were only small villages in the vicinity. When the war front drew near and the hospital had been already evacuated, I got into a train at some small train station near the hospital. I got to Breslau. I thought that there would surely be some train departing from there. At first I planned to go to Austria. But the train station was closed. There were piles of fur coats and suitcases everywhere. People were pushing against each other. But I was determined to get into the train somehow. I pushed my way toward the train. At some moments my feet were not even touching the ground. After several hours of riding through the night the train suddenly stopped. I thought that we had to be in the Protectorate now, and so I silently got off, nobody noticed me. Then I walked until I found myself in Kyšperk (present-day Letohrad – auth.’s note). I took a train to Hradec Králové. I got home without any problems. But the tough German regime was still present here.”
Fortunately they did not arrest me in 1939 because I hid myself in a church
Prof. Dr. Josef Andrýs, CSc., was born October 14, 1920 in Třebechovice pod Orebem. After completing elementary school he studied at the prominent grammar school in Hradec Králové. After graduation he began studying at the faculty of medicine in Prague. He took part in the student protests in autumn 1939. When Czech universities were closed down, he began working in a leather factory in Třebechovice pod Orebem. In 1943 he was sent to do forced labour in the Krupp factory in eastern Silesia which produced tanks, armoured vehicles and ammunition. Later he was transferred to a local hospital. In early 1945 he managed to escape and get home. Immediately after the end of the war he went to Prague in order to continue with his studies at the medical faculty. Later he went to the recently established faculty of medicine in Hradec Králové. Josef graduated when he was twenty-nine years old and he specialized in obstetrics. After graduation from the university he received a job placement to Rimavská Sobota in Slovakia. Subsequently he worked in the hospital in Jaroměř and eventually at the army obstetrics clinic in Hradec Králové where he stayed until his retirement. He left the gynecology clinic in 1985. Afterwards he worked also as a company gynecologist or as a reviewing doctor in the Military Health Insurance company. He received a professor’s degree after 1989. Even after his retirement he continued to be a member of the Czech Gynecological and Obstetrical Society.