Miloslav Benda

* 1919  

  • Mr. Benda remembers how he left to the Sudetenlands, what he did to fall out with the local members of the party, and how he was arrested in 1950. The meeting on which the local branch of the People's Party was extablished took part in his house. Twice he stood up to protest against propagandist speeches and he refused to take part in the local election as a candidate of the People's Party.

  • “When the armies of the Warsaw pact came I was coming home late at night every day so I didn't hear anything about it on the radio. In the morning, I went to work and my assistant came as well, and we arrived at the barracks, opened the shop and started selling groceries. And officers came to the shop and I asked one of the officers if it was alright that I didn't get my supplies and if the bus was coming as usual. And he told me: 'The bus will come as usual but take a look outside what is happening.' I went out of the barracks and looked at the field and there I saw one tank next to another, the whole field full of tanks. So I told my assistant to go home and closed the shop. I was riding a motorcycle at that time. We came to the main road and we could not go any further because traffic was stuck. We had to ride through the field because the passage between the tanks and other military vehicles was blocked by foreigners who were trying to get out of the country through Rozvadov. One car after another. So we had to push the motorcycle until Bor.”

  • “The court was right next to the prison. And when they led me there I asked where they were taking me and they told me to shut up. So we came to the court. There were about six or eight judges and they all had papers in front of them where the whole interrogation was recorded. The interrogation was carried out by a guard who tried to implicate me in things I opposed. And when he said that I refused to cooperate with the municipality and that I said I wouldn't let them rape my religion, I had to object to that word being a part of my vocabulary. I would never say that. I had to repeat what I had said at the municipal meeting and that was that religion is dearer to me than their politics. He crossed that out and wrote: 'He followed the directions of the pope in Rome... ' I don't remember how it went on. But that that was how my case was processed.“

  • “I reached Trmice. The local inn that was already taken. There was the 'settlement' official in the office above the hall who gathered all the request forms and processed them. I went up to talk to him and I found that he was German. It scared me a bit but he probably sensed that and said: 'Listen, I'm German but I'm an anti-fascist. When the Nazis came they put all of us in jail and we got out at the end of the war.' So we talked a bit and I asked him about the shop. He told me where the shop was and we went out to have a look at it. It was right next to the electricity plant. The shop was nice but I looked inside and saw the German owners still doing something inside. And I felt so bad I wouldn't dare step inside. When you see that it is somebody else's property and you know he has to leave it behind... I told to the official. 'Listen, I'll take it but I can't go inside now.'”

  • “I got a car with a wood gas engine with which we drove to my shop to Ovčáry to take some sacks with sugar and some spices. We were coming back and the driver told me we also had to stop by at the police station in Všetaty, that they have some machine guns and schells there. So we stopped there and put all that on the sacks with sugar, covered it with a blanket and hurried down to Lejkov. We were passing the rairoad tracks and we saw soldiers laying on the grass, sunbathing and drying their clothes. We stopped for a while and were not sure whether we could go on. Then the driver hot out, he prodded the fire a bit and we said: 'Now or never.' And we drove quickly past the soldiers but none of them moved.“

  • “Interrogation took place in January in Stříbro. But I also have to say that three days after my arrest, my wife was allowed to visit me. She said that she got official permission from the local officials to come to see me because the officials offered her the opportunity to divorce me. She also started talking about police searching our house so the guards interrupted us and sent her home.”

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    Tachov, 09.01.2011

    (audio)
    duration: 03:50:49
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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Religion is dearer to me than their politics.

M. Benda- period portrait
M. Benda- period portrait
photo: Archiv Miloslava Bendy

Miloslav Benda was born on October 8, 1919 in Jelenice near Mělník as the youngest one of nine children. His father was a bricklayer. Miloslav was trained as a sales assistant in a wholesale store in Mělník where he also worked for some time. Later he opened his own shop. As a young man, he established a local branch of the Catholic youth organization and began organizing cultural and sports events with national themes. During the Prague Uprising, he joined Russian soldiers and defended the Řepín village which was the center of the local resistance and was attacked by the German army. After the war, he almost lost the job at his shop. He decided to move to Ustí nad Labem, to the then empty Sudetenland where he was supposed to get a new shop. He wasn’t able to open it due to the reluctance of the communist officials. He finally settled down in western Bohemia, in Prostiboř. He opened a new shop, married a woman whose family had come from Volhynia and they had two daughters. After 1948 he got into several minor conflicts with the communist party. First he offered his house to a meeting of the People’s Party, then he refused to take part in the local municipal elections. At the public municipality meetings he twice stood up to protest against communist officials, who were trying to justify actions of the party after February 1948 and spoke against Czechoslovak legionaries and president Beneš. In 1950, he was arrested and sentenced to half a year in prison by the local municipal court for allegedly endangering the public by withholding food supplies, dissemination of false information, and illegal possesion of weapons. Part of his property was seized and he also had to pay a large fine. He was transfered to Bory and to Pradubice where he served the major part of his sentence, which he completed in the Vojna labor camp near Příbram. Part of his sentence was pardoned but he had to work in the mines after his return. He had to abandon mining due to health issues and worked in several job positions, the longest of which was as a chief coordinator of the Jednota grocery shops and as the head of the army canteen at the barracks in Bor u Tachova-Vysočany. Presently, he lives with his family in Tachov.