JUDr. Evžen Basch

* 1925  †︎ 2016

  • “Nearby next door, the German children of the Jöckel family and other Nazi families were playing. There was a little girl who had this – I’ve been looking up the word in the dictionary until this very day – tiny carpet beater. So me and Robert came to her and politely asked her if we could borrow the beater from her. She said yes and thus we had the beater and used it for these big carpets, to satisfy Kuntz. When he saw what we had done, he started yelling and swearing at us. He yelled at us that we were making fun of him. That it was Jöckel’s carpets. He started to regularly beat us up. I got hit in the head and Robert was hit in the neck. He beat us up just for making fun of Jöckl and his carpets and treating them with that carpet beater. Maybe it’s ridiculous but we like to remember it sometimes.”

  • “I asked why I was there and he said: ‘Do you know Hájek?’ ‘Yes I do’. ‘Well, then you know’. So they brought me to Prague and they probably locked me up in this huge cell. It was a large prison cell and there were a lot of people in there. Some of them were members of the Šeřík group – that was the group that I had allegedly been a member of. They say it wasn’t true. So I think that on the second or the third day in the morning, I was taken to the interrogation. I wrote about it, I will show you the writing that I put down about it. It was at night. Certainly it was at night. I just heard the screaming from another cell or workplace. There, someone screamed terribly. I later found out that it was Pepík Slanina, who was being interrogated. His screams could be heard around the corridor. The interrogations were horrible, they thought I was some kind of a capo. When I told the StB officersthat I had been through two German concentration camps, like Horáková, it didn’t do me any good. The StB [State Security – note by the author] argued that they could see I was a seasoned resistance fighter.”

  • “These were the worst three days. After three days I came to him and he says: ‘everything’s fine, you’re staying here with us’. That Míla had excellent connections. He helped people so much. He was a brilliant eye doctor. He was afraid as well and thus he also left to Prague. His workplace was the best clinic near and far. Until today I’m not sure exactly what happened. They were probably investigating the case but eventually probably gave it up, I really don’t know. But he made sure I didn’t have to go to the auxiliary technical battalions (PTP). Borek Fiala, a class mate of mine who had been in the concentration camp in Jáchymov visited me. At that time, he was also doing his doctorate. We were all allowed to do a doctorate. Petr Pujman made his right after he had been released. He was a student of medicine, did philosophy and then died somehow. Mrs. Pujmanová told Gottwald: ‘let him go’. She was at that time an ideologist, if you remember it a little. Pujmanová.”

  • “To make sure we had cars, because Zápotocký said that there would be no monetary reform just a week before. Antonín Zápotocký. A week later, people lost nearly all the money they had. Do you have parents? They will remember what they did. In 1953 – the monetary reform. They simply depreciated the currency and Zápotocký had said just a week before that there would be no monetary reform. We had already been banned to leave the garrison two weeks prior to that. Indeed, that was the way the army dealt with this kind of things. When something was happening, they first banned the leaves. This is a military philosophy. When Stalin died, leaves were banned for two weeks. When Gottwald died, it was the same story. So they did it this way. So we got the cars and I came home with a gun in my hand. My poor mother wondered what happened and I said: ‘Mom, I'm doing the monetary reform’. ‘You’re doing the monetary reform?’ I said: ‘No, I’m just taking care of the cars’. Because it had to be done at night, it had to be done in secrecy. At night, the cars were loaded with the new currency that the communists depreciated. As I knew where to go and what to do, I chose Strakonice. I came to Strakonice in uniform and carrying a gun. We were not allowed to get a grasp of the guns.”

  • “There was also a petition for pardon for the boys who were eventually executed, but Gottwald simply ignored it. He would send them to death. Even that Hruška who had provoked it all in the first place. We were driven in our prison uniforms across half of Prague to the appellate court where I learned that the public prosecutor wasn’t content with my three-year sentence and demanded a higher sentence for me. So they thought that I was one of the greatest, as I was administratively listed as a member of the anti-communist resistance group Šeřík. And the Institute for totalitarian regimes held that it was too little that I gained Bonek and was listed as a member. Hájek himself said that I had been a member.”

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Litoměřice, 04.02.2014

    duration: 04:12:57
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

In front of everybody else, I had to say that I had been in two German concentration camps and that I wasn’t starving in Jáchymov

Evžen Basch, 1964
Evžen Basch, 1964
photo: autor Luděk Jirka

JUDr. Evžen Basch was born April 2, 1925, in Prague into a Czech-Jewish mixed marriage. His father Viktor worked in a soap factory in Prague and later bought a smaller soap factory in Roudnice nad Labem. After moving to Roudnice, Evžen completed elementary school and began to study at a state-ran Real Gymnasium. On June 20, 1942, together with other students, Evžen was arrested and taken to the Small Fortress of Theresienstadt for allegedly plotting the assassination of the local German school director Alfred Bauer. The Gestapo released him from prison on Dec. 6, 1942. However, Evžen was assigned to forced labor in the Mewa (Metallwarenindustrie) company in Roudnice. As a Jewish half-breed, Evžen was deported to the newly established camp in Postoloprty on September 20, 1944. In May 1945, he escaped from the camp and after the war he completed grammar school in Roudnice. His father, however, did not survive the war and died in the extermination camp in Auschwitz. After graduation, Evžen Basch left to study law at Charles University in Prague, but his plans were ruined by his arrest on December 26, 1948. His arrest was linked to his activities in the anticommunist group Šeřík (Lilac). He was detained in Litoměřice and Pankrác. The court subsequently sentenced him to three years and Evžen served his term in prisons in Prague (St. Bartholomew Street) and Jachymov (Mariánská camp). After his release in 1951, he worked in the Municipal Corporation and as a lawyer in the national company Restaurants and Canteens in Litoměřice. He died June 16 2016.