Ing. Jaroslav Běl

* 1929

  • “The Americans stayed with us for about two or three months, maybe four. At that time they occupied school, inns, and who had a larger house in the village was obliged to accommodate those soldiers. So, we had to vacate one room where they had those bunk beds. About eight Americans stayed overnight. One of them had Slovak ancestors, so he could speak very pour Czechoslovakian. And I still remember his name was Tony Kramec. We talked with him. [And those] Americans, they were other than a German or a Soviet army. They were giving chocolate to children, chewing gums… [A] they were cleanly dressed - they had three ironed creases on the back of their shirt. And when there were dancing parties, the Czech boys hated them because they had no chance. The girls liked the Americans. But they behaved like all of it here belonged to them. We had a large field towards the road and my dad had a clover sown there. It was for cattle feeding. They drove their vehicles there. And they made a playground there, and threw those circles on such rods. And they just destroyed the field – no stress. Then they had some festive parade in Pilsen, and so they left the field. So, Dad took the cows - we had cows, we didn't have horses - and they plowed the field so they couldn't come to it anymore. [When the Americans] arrived from the celebration, they borrowed harrows at the blacksmith's house, crushed it and settled there again. So, Dad had to wait for them to leave to use the field.”

  • “There was a large warehouse of spare parts for the army in Přeštice, with about fifty soldiers serving there. And then there was a group of SS men at random on some march. These two military units were waiting for the Americans and argued with the newly formed National Committee. - There is a building in Přeštice called the District office. Přeštice used to be a district town and all the administration was in that district. - I remember when we were waiting for the Americans there were two soldiers standing at the entrance in those busy days. One was a Czech policeman with a rifle and one SS man. And inside the building, the conditions were being adjust about how to wait for the Americans. The Czech conditions were that the Germans would not be a blown up there, and the German conditions [were] that the Germans would not be interested in the Czechs. So, we were waiting for the Americans to come. It was even so eager that… There was no gasoline during the war, so anyone who had a car or motorbike had to put it on the logs. And somebody got some petrol somewhere and sent a motor patrol outside of Klatovy [to find out] where the Americans were and when they would arrive. And I remember that when [Americans] came to Prestice, the Germans were captured. Then they were taken to a large prison camp at Valše near Pilsen. And the Prestice National Committee had already prepared a list of collaborators who were there. So the Americans drove through Prestice [and] picked up those collaborators. And that´s how the whole military action ended.”

  • “The Germans came to us. To the amazement of everyone there were no horses. They were all motorized units. And they came to our village where they camped. But they left on the second or third day and we did not see them anymore. And on the day they arrived, they bought up a [one] shop completely. There was a general store in every village [back then]. We had Mr. Tichota. So, they bought up all the goods they didn't have at home. That means: chocolate, sweets... At that time, wool for knitting was also very popular. So, they [bought] the whole bundles of that wool. And they sent it [all] home. This means that in those years they still did not had the standard of living in Germany that we had here in 1939.”

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    Plzeň, 27.06.2019

    duration: 02:09:08
    media recorded in project Příběhy regionu - PLZ REG ED
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When I came from a school, I had a ticket on the desk to which field to run

A graduation photography of Jaroslav Běla from 1947
A graduation photography of Jaroslav Běla from 1947
photo: archiv pamětníka

Jaroslav Běl was born on February 25, 1929 in Skočice near Přeštice. His parents Josefa and Antonín worked in agriculture, since his childhood he had to help them. At the age of ten he experienced the occupation by the German army. For four months after the liberation in May 1945, a group of American soldiers lived in their house. Jaroslav studied at the industrial school in Pilsen in 1943-1947. In 1951 he joined the military service in Karlovy Vary, where he stayed until 1953. At that time on his way to Pilsen, he experienced events related to the announcement of monetary reform, after which he had to be questioned by the StB. Due to unsatisfactory cadre reference Jaroslav was not accepted at a university. He completed it later in the evening studies while working. He got married in 1957 and joined the Communist Party in 1966. He started his career as a technician of a well-known field in the Skoda factory in Pilsen. He learned English himself. He participated in numerous exhibitions, including the renowned EXPO 1967; during his business trips abroad, he visited India, Australia, Japan, Canada, Spain or Austria. In 1970, he was expelled from the Communist Party and deprived of the function of construction manager. In spite of that he stayed in Škoda until his retirement. He devoted himself to the plant growing, he received a bronze medal from the Czech Gardeners Association for his contribution to the development of gardening or a diploma for the 1st place in the competition Apple of the Year Bohemia.