Jindřich Benda

* 1922  †︎ unknown

  • “When I found out that my father was in the international army, I told a Czechoslovak officer I met in the streets of Uzhhorod about it. We started to talk and he told me everything, where my father was, and so on. I asked him if I could join the army, to the international Freedom one. And he told me that it wouldn’t work in Uzhhorod because there was no recruitment office here, that I’d have to go to Chust. So, I made up my mind and went to Chust and it was there in December 1944 that I joined the international Czechoslovak army as a volunteer.”

  • "We were pushed out of the forest and we retreated toward a hill - no, up the hill, and as fast as we could. I had my kit tied somehow to my waist and my gun in my hands. When I felt the blow from my back to my forearm the gun fell out of my hand, so I switched it to the other, and I took out my knife and cut off the backpack that I had assigned to me for the battle so it wouldn’t slow me down, and I continued to retreat until I got to the top, where I was out of range and where soon after I was treated. They bandaged up my arm and I handed over my weapon and then I walked across the base to the building where I was hospitalized, they operated on me as soon as they could. They operated on me in a school classroom on a desk with no anesthesia."

  • "We attacked a German position which was hidden in the woods, and when we got to the edge of the forest they started to put up a fight. We could tell by how... how I saw flashing bullets whizzing around me and piercing through the pine needles. After that we stopped there. I noticed that in front of me there was a soldier, a young boy, who had a Russian rifle. Whether it was a Vintovka or something else I can’t say, but it didn’t work. He had to keep unlocking the end with a stone, toss out the old shell, and put in a new one. So, it kept him quite busy."

  • Full recordings
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    Praha, 18.09.2002

    duration: 18:49
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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Any regime is better than war

Jindřich Benda was born on 7 July 1922 v Uzhhorod, where he went to high school. After the entrance of Hungarian forces into Carpathian Ruthenia, he fled and started to live in Prague, where he went on to complete a four-year high school program. Afterwards, he began apprenticing at a brewery in Nusle, where he was trained as a maltster. After 1942, he returned to Uzhhorod to take care of his ailing mother, and later worked in a Hungarian brewery in Budapest. His father served in the international Czechoslovak Army. Following the occupation of Carpathian Ruthenia by Soviet forces in 1944, Jindřich Benda signed up to serve in the 1st Czechoslovak Army Corps. Within its ranks, he contributed to the liberation of Slovakia. He was hospitalized in Poprad after being shot during combat before Easter of 1945. Following the war, he served briefly as a guard at the barracks in Prague-Pohořelec. He was demobilized on 9 June 1945.