Antonín Bartoš

* 1946

  • “They would certainly put dad in prison, but it was risky even for me to a certain extent – will they [communists] take their revenge on him by arresting me? But I came over here anyway. It was amazing to be here for the first time. I was listening to songs – not from records or by our folkloric ensemble in New York City, but live, here and now. It was amazing. Dad told me to be careful – he said I would be monitored. My cousin Jan Šesták came over from London and we were just careful to have fun rather than worrying if we were being followed.” – “Did they follow you?” – “They did, it turns out. As we were driving from a wine cellar one day – we shouldn’t have gone there in the first place – he drove into a field and punctured his oil pan. It was an English car: what do we do? They pointed us to a Svazarm garage in Gottwaldov, and there we were. Suddenly, the manager came over and asked our names. He knew them anyway – his name was František Foukal; he used to work for the gestapo and nearly ruined Clay-Eva. The communists hired him as a good double agent; he worked for the StB and was our host. I remember things coming in ‘fours’ that day: four mechanics worked on the car for four hours and Foukal charged us four hundred crowns for the repair.”

  • “We were always in a huge building. It was probably what the Nazis confiscated from the Jews under Hitler; then Germans held it; then the US counter-intelligence offered it to [Czechoslovak intelligence officers] Moravec and Ingr. Dad was assigned there. There were many young men around; my mum explained to me they were my uncles – I had a lot of uncles. Some would play with me; one played trumpet with me. I called one of them ‘Uncle Chocolate’. They were all couriers who used to cross the borders, and the big houses and huge gardens were there for them to practice. There were obstacles to tackle, and a shooting range at the other end where dad taught the couriers to shoot in case they need it. They would cross the border to obtain intelligence and traffic people who were in danger. Jan Kratochvíl, the head of the exile museum in Brno, explained to me later that my Uncle Chocolate’s actual name was Karel Ševčík. He always had chocolate with him when trafficking families with little children. He would give the children chocolate so they would keep quiet. Sometimes, Uncle Chocolate would give me whatever chocolate he had left.”

  • “But they [communists] caught dad in Hodonín and put him under arrest. It was not a prison; it was a town hall, so he jumped out of the window and fled. He went to Lanžhot and started organising the escape from Czechoslovakia.” – “He must’ve done it really quickly, right?” – “Yes, there are several versions of what happened. One account is – as recently published in Lanžhot, though I suspect dad didn’t say everything to everyone – that the family somehow made it possible for mother and me to be taken to Břeclav and then make the impression that we took a train to Slovakia. But that’s not the way it was. Father organised several families to flee to Austria. I know we walked; they carried me – I was a year and a half old. It was a group of people, with some children and a pregnant woman. My father told them: ‘Don’t take any luggage with you – none at all. I have money; I will buy you clothes, skirts, diapers – every day if necessary. We should look like hikers, like we’re just walking. Don’t panic – that would show we’re fleeing.’ Then we crossed the border to Austria somehow, he managed to get a truck from a farmer, we all got on, and that drove us all the way to Vienna.”

  • “The gestapo encircled the house where dad was hiding, and the lady woke him; I don’t remember her name. She told him to jump out of the window; he got dressed and jumped out. The gestapo was there and he started firing, and they fired a machine gun at him. Dad slipped on ice; he thought he’d been hit. He allegedly killed three gestapo men. Their main concern was for people not to see it, so they dragged the bodies away. Dad said: ‘I just lay there not knowing whether or not I had been hit. First, I moved my butt, then my legs, then my shoulders – and I was fine, so I got up and ran like hell.”

  • “They were in Scotland; I don’t know if he was with Jura Štokman and Čestmír Šikola or on his own. It was in Scotland and his team were told: ‘There is this home guard, older gentlemen – they guard the post office. Your task is to take the post office, but they have rifles and can shoot live rounds. You have to make sure they’re safe after your attack, and you’ll be dressed like German navy men who just got off a submarine. You must be very careful and make sure the Scotsmen emerge safe and sound.’ So, there were three guardsmen making rounds. They caught two of them in the back yard and tied them up so they couldn’t scream and warn the third one. The third one was a big bearded guy in a kilt; dad said his hands were as big as my feet. Three jumped him from the roof and he shook the two men who held his hands like they were rags. Dad was stumped – he could kill them. He said: ‘I found a rock and knocked him on the head.’ He dropped down and was tied up too; he growled like a mad dog. They just barely made it – luckily, the bearded guy was fine, but for a bump on his head.”

  • Full recordings
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    Liberec, 27.09.2022

    duration: 03:46:32
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th Century TV
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The son of the Clay-Eva sortie commander grew up among traffickers. He came back home after twenty years

Antonín Bartoš Jr in New York City, 1965
Antonín Bartoš Jr in New York City, 1965
photo: Archiv pamětníka

Antonín Bartoš Jr was born in Lanžhot on 26 July 1946 and his life was strongly shaped by his father’s destiny from an early age. Antonín Bartoš Sr fled to England during World War II and took training to become the commander of the Clay-Eva sortie. The group operated in the east of Moravia in 1944 and 1945 and its primary task was intelligence activity. After the war, the witness’s father was a MP for the National Socialist Party and spoke openly against the communists. They tried to imprison him after the February 1948 coup but he fled and left for France with his family. In Paris, the Bartoš family operated the Maryša restaurant for Czechoslovak émigrés, with communist spies monitoring them. In 1950, Antonín Bartoš Sr entered service again under General František Moravec. In Germany, he trained couriers and traffickers who would operate on the Czech border, and gathered intelligence. Two years later, the family decided to relocate to the USA where the witness’s parents held civilian jobs and engaged in social life with fellow émigrés. Antonín Bartoš Jr went to both American and Czech schools from an early age and graduated in electromagnetics. He visited Czechoslovakia for the first time after his emigration in 1969. The StB monitored him all the time but he would come back repeatedly. He married Radmila Lebedová in 1976 and the couple had two sons, Jan and František. As part of his career, the witness was involved in the development of various radar technologies for US Navy and intelligence services. His father died in 1998 without receiving his Czech citizenship back. The witness continued to visit the Czech Republic, keeping in touch with the families of the other people connected with Clay and taking part in memorial events regularly. He lived in the USA in 2022.