Master Sergeant (ret.) Josef Babák

* 1925  †︎ 2015

  • "If I remember it correctly, Colonel Svoboda showed up there and told our commander: 'Rebčín, where's your company?' So he said: 'Boys, at my command, if things get really bad, shoot into our own lines'. We stopped them. It was a success and the attack was fended off. There was one problem in this operation – the Germans were constantly in an elevated position while we were below their line of defense. As we were advancing into the Carpathians they always had us on a plate from their elevated outposts. Thus we had to adapt our strategy and take as much cover as we could to prevent them from seeing us and reduce the success rate of their snipers."

  • "It was just scattered and so it looked precarious. As we walked through the woods to the terrain, I remember that there was a few of us in that group or team, and the Germans were in a bunker in front of us. A friend of mine who marched in front of me was taken down by them. They were already very desperate towards the end of the war. In despair, they would for instance scream: 'a Russian, hurray, hurray', and the like."

  • "When they closed the school there, they started to take the older students away to work in Germany. They worked as slave laborers in German industry. I was lucky – if you can call it luck – because at that point I fell sick and had to be treated in hospital. So at the time when they were taking my former school mates to work in Germany, I was sick and bed-ridden in a hospital and thus I evaded forced labor."

  • "I remember that at the time, everybody spontaneously wanted to fight for Czechoslovakia and defend his country. They invited us for an inspection by an admission commission in a town called Varkoviche. There, the doctors very casually inspected us and declared almost everybody to be perfectly healthy and fit for service, because they needed as many men as they could get. My father joined the army about three days earlier than I did and then there was no more going back."

  • "I was supposed to receive a farm in Hněvotín. It was a nice little farm – there even was a home for the old parents that went with it. However, before we even arrived there, it had already been given to somebody else. That man was from my native village of Moldava as well. So they put me in a farm in Nemilany instead. My cousin from Žatec had a friend and they somehow managed to find me a place there and invited me to come to Žatec. So we decided to move to the Žatecko region because we were sick of living in that shanty when we saw what kind of farms the other boys got and all that was left for us was this."

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    Postoloprty, 20.09.2012

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    duration: 03:37:47
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I liked riding on horseback

Josef Babák, 1945
Josef Babák, 1945
photo: archiv Josefa Babáka

Josef Babák, a retired first class sergeant , was born on August 1, 1925, in the Volhynian village of Moldava in former Poland. For seven years he attended elementary school in Moldava, Zdolbunov and Mirohošť respectively and then studied at a Ukrainian grammar school in Dubno. At that point, however, Poland had already been occupied by the Soviet Union (1939-1941). The Nazi occupation of present-day western Ukraine followed suit and Josef Babák was supposed to be deployed to forced labor in Germany. A fortunate coincidence saved him from forced labor and thus he was free to wait for the re-arrival of the Red Army in Volhynia and to enlist in the 1st Czechoslovak army corps in Rovno on 20 March, 1944. He joined the combined reconnaissance unit (SPO) of the 1st brigade, where he was assigned to the motorcycles. After training in Chernivtsi, he fought at Krosno, Machnówka and in the battles of the Carpathian-Dukla operation. In Barwinek, he was wounded in the chest by shrapnel and treated in a field hospital. Later, he served as a tank-crew member. After the war, he settled in Deštnice in the Žatec region, where he initially worked as a private farmer and later joined the State farm. In 1953, he moved to Postoloprty and worked in the local farms collective in various positions. He passed away on April, 27th, 2015.