Second Lieutenant Jiřina Bajborová

* 1925  †︎ 2011

  • “The worst thing about the air raid was that we lived near a railway junction. There was a route going to Warsaw, to Kiev, and another one to Lvov. And the place where we lived was just in this centre point. At the back there was the junction of the Kiev and Warsaw lines and there stood an armoured train full of Russian girls, the women’s service. And that train got a direct hit, none of them survived.”

  • “My best memories come from Vsetín; that was already in spring, on May 6th. I still keep in touch with those girls. The people there were very nice. The first time since I had left my home I bathed in a bathtub and slept in white duvets. Afterward, I was afraid that I might have left some lice or something in there. Before, we had been sleeping on the straw, anywhere. We did not have beds. Let’s be straight about that. The pilots, when they returned from a flight, went to take a bath, and then they slept in some dormitory. We slept wherever we could, in barns and cowsheds.”

  • “I and Marie walked twelve kilometers to Rovno. There we reported and from there we were sent by trains. It was a train used for transportation of pigs, and in our wagon there were only girls, about thirty of us. It was on May 16th, I think, after the air raid. It took some time before they prepared the whole train. There were both boys and girls. We rode to Kamenec Podolsky, to the third brigade. I was here as a radio operator.”

  • “Have you ever seen a horse dying? That’s a terribly bad feeling. A mine was dropped on a bridge, the horse started, and at that moment it hit the frame of the bridge and it pierced the horse’s side. I felt so sorry for that horse…I kept thinking, why do animals have to suffer so much? The horse carried some wheat; it belonged to civilians, near Liptovský Mikuláš.”

  • “I would like to ask about the situation of the Jewish inhabitants?”- “They went through a lot. One time I was a witness to their execution. I was just in the cemetery, and next to the cemetery there was a cement factory, they were shooting them there.”- “Did you see whether there were adults or children?”- “All the bodies were thrown in there. They shot them, then covered with some lime, and then the shooting began anew.”- “And were they naked or in clothes?”- “They had some clothes.”- “In their underwear?”- “Something like that, but it varied. It was summer.”- “And those who shot them were Germans, or those Ukrainian helpers they had?”- “They were in uniforms.”

  • “And tell me, do you still remember the Morse code?”- “We did not use it that much. We worked phonically mostly. They told us what to cipher and relay, we had numbers assigned, and had to send the messages according to the numbers. But mostly, it was done by speaking, phonically. I still keep this paper, saying that if by chance our commander was speaking, I could turn the radio off. I still keep all of it, for remembrance.”

  • “It was 1st May 1944. We had a party celebrating the end of the school year, the summer holidays were about to begin. The school was almost over, so we gathered there, all the young people, each of us brought some sweets… And then they began saying that an air raid was coming. So me and my friend went home. Marie Halámková, she was in the army, too. And I told her: ´Máša, come, you will sleep in our place.´ My sister was always very scared of air raids, she would run and hide in the countryside. So she slept in our house that night, and when it started, we crouched under the bed. We piled all the duvets upon us; the feather duvets would protect you from splinters, but if a bomb were dropped right on your head, then not even all the saints could save you. So at the beginning we started counting. It was twelve thirty when it started and we counted fifty bombs. Then we could not keep count any more. We only heard the bottles in the pantry falling over. It went like that till three thirty. For three hours, from twelve thirty to three thirty.”

  • “Do you know this joke? A soldier comes into a house and tells the women who lives there. ´I want to sleep on this bench here.´ And she says: ´And what will you put under yourself?´ - ´My army coat.´ - ´And what will you cover yourself with?´ - ´With my army coat.´ - ´And how many of these coats have you got?´ - ´Only one.´ It was the same way with us. We had rubber boots, what could I put in it? I had warm socks. When it was cold, I had a night gown, my army uniform over it, any the coat on top of it. Nothing more. There were blankets, but we could not carry them with us, when the radio station itself weighted eleven kilos, that was enough for one’s load.”

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    Žatec, 14.08.2005

    duration: 56:45
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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Freedom, it is more precious than gold

Jiřina Bajborová
Jiřina Bajborová

Mrs. Jiřina Bajborová was born in 1925 in a Czech family living in Zdolbunov in Volhynia. She attended a Czech school and enjoyed the rich cultural life that flourished in Volhynia. The Russian occupation did not influence the family life as much as the German one, which came shortly after. Mrs. Bajborová stopped going to school and she had to find a job in the place she lived, otherwise she would have been called into forced labour in Germany. She witnessed murders of their Jewish neighbours and in the tense atmosphere she decided to join the Czechoslovak army in May 1944. There she served as a radio operator in the 3rd brigade. She was sent to the front and during the liberation of Czechoslovakia she got as far as to Pivín in Moravia. Afterwards she was helping with repatriation of Volhynian Czechs and after her release from the army she lived with her family in Žatec. Jiřina Bajborová died on July 1, 2011.