Bohumil Benák

* 1932  

  • “There was no school (in Lipovec – editor´s note), we used to go to school in Daruvar, that was nothing. And half smaller than Lipovec. There was no employment anywhere, everyone was farming. We had two or three cows and a bit of field. We worked on it using horses, it was a heavy labour. Farmer´s life was difficult, there was nothing to sell, well hard to sell as there was too little money in circulation. And there were taxes, we had to pay them obligatorily and if not, they came and took your cow to sell it.” Interviewer: “Was Lipovec any different from other villages, when Czech were here?” – “I believe that Lipovec was quite advance in comparison to other villages. It was not the only totally Czech village; let’s say Končenice and Brestov and Dežanovec, but all those had a bit higher level than those with no Czechs at all. You learnt about it in everything, that we are a hard-working nation. The Czechs used to buy farming machines from Bohemia, which they needed here, as there were only very few to work with. And also our Czech children they all went to school, either Czech or Croatian and were always a bit more advanced. And as they were ahead, adults were likewise.”

  • “I was a kid at the Vaculíks (during a trip in 1947 near Lovosice – editor´s note) and then, when I was with my brother-in-law, we improved contacts with the family again and visited them there. So we agreed with Milan to come here. There was a wedding here at our neighbours and there was already so much tension in Bohemia with the Russian tanks, and we didn’t even think they´d come here. We were coming from the town and met a Czech car. I waited on there here at the gate and there were mine… They had a Czech flag with black ribbon on their car. So we understood everything.“ Interviewer: “And did they return back home then?” – „Yes, they did. Some of our hotels were accommodating those people for free, before the tension decreased. They were coming back, but some of them went to Austria or Italy and not Bohemia.” Interviewer: “What did you think was actually happening here? Did it bother you at all?” – “It did a lot as we knew it got better here and worsened at yours. I mattered for sure – why would a nation be dependant at another so much, so helpless and obedient, we talk about the Russians. Why could the Czechs not have their own government without any other country interests? It bothered us a lot. Independent Czechoslovakia means a lot to us.”

  • Interviewer: “Let me come back to your father. That is interesting, as he was a Czech citizen, so he was ordered to come back to Bohemia before WW2… Was he alone or more were coming from the neighbourhood?” – “He was amongst the first ones from Zagreb consulate. He got (money –editor´s note) to travel to Bohemia. It was in the Unity (to join the Czechoslovak army – editor´s note). Few Czechs got back to Bohemia as even Yugoslavia was more with Hitler, and were not letting people go anymore; and another thing – they didn’t make it there, as the Sudeten borderland was already taken, so there was no need to go. So he was amongst the first one who got there. But he could not come back via Austria, not even Hungary, so he chose Ruthenia and Rumania, which took longer.“ Interviewer: “When he returned, was he disappointed not to be able to fight?” – “He was disappointed that the Germans were taking over the Czech lands. Very disappointed indeed. That is why he never liked them.” Interviewer: “So that was quite a dangerous situation to join the partisans. Were you not afraid?” – “We were afraid altogether. But here in Lipovec were all Czechs, so we didn’t fear anyone would leak any information on anyone. We definitely didn’t fear that. But it was a little tense.” Interviewer: “If anyone would have leaked it, what would have happened?” – “He´d be locked up in Jasanovec or similar and executed. It was very dangerous, but eventually all worked out all right.”

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    Ljudevit Selo - Lipovec, 17.06.2016

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The best thing we brought from Bohemia, was the Czech music.

Bohumil Benák in 1950s
Bohumil Benák in 1950s
photo: archiv pamětníka

Bohumil Benák was born on 8 May, 1932 in a village of Ljudevit Selo (Lipovec in Czech) near Daruvar in today´s Croatia. Lipovec was and nowadays still is inhabited almost exclusively by Czech families, which were coming here since the second half of 19th century. Ancestors of Mr. Bohumil came from Hrusice near Český Brod. His father was of Czech citizenship inherited from his ancestors, although he was born in Yugoslavia. That was why he was called to serve in the army in Litoměřice and in 1938 he volunteered to join the Czechoslovak army to help defending the country of his ancestors from Germans. More Czechs were leaving Yugoslavia back then, but some didn’t make it and Bohumil´s father had to return home soon. After that he joined the Czech partisan brigade. Bohumil went to the Czech school in Daruvar, but it was closed during war, so also the Czech pupils went to Croatian schools. After finishing gymnasium he attended the Agricultural Faculty in Požez and then took over the farm from his parents. He remembers the difficult situation of farmers during war and at the beginning of 1950s, when similar cooperatives as ours were introduced in Yugoslavia. But then the coops started to get cancelled and farmers were doing well. Mr. Bohumil married a Czech from Ivanovo Selo, has two daughters and grandparents. Until 1960s he also had the Czech citizenship, but finally gave it up. When he wished to travel anywhere, he had to ask Czechoslovak visa, which was complicated. He enlarged the farm, had chickens and distributed them across Croatia and neighbouring countries. In 1990s during war the situation deteriorated. His wife left with grandparents to relatives to Czechoslovakia. Men from Lipovec were prepared to defend their village with guns and switched on guard. Mr. Bohumil has been a member of the local Czech association.