Antonín Beneš

* 1929  

  • “Father M. Punt (superior from the Calasanctius monastery in Kročehlavy near Kladno) was Dutch and he had Dutch citizenship. I remember that after the coup d’état in February 1948 two uniformed policemen came there during a Sunday Mass. They stood at the back and Father Punt noticed it. He interrupted the mass and said: ‘You two, gentlemen, do not belong here; go away, because you have nothing to do here.’ Those two gentlemen really went away. We then talked to the priest and he told us: ‘Look, you cannot afford to do what I did, because they would put you in jail for that. But as for me, they can only deport me.’ This really happened and he was later deported from the monastery.”

  • “It was on September 12, 1944 when the air raid was notified. They ordered us to leave the factory. We went to the forest in Svatý Ján near Dubí. There was a ravine with slopes on both sides, and a zigzag-shaped trench was dug there in the ravine. But it was not large, and I can not imagine how a person could hide in there. A short while after we reached the ravine, a group of bomber planes flew overhead. They were heading as if in the direction of the Poldi factory and they kept flying forward. When the planes flew past the factory, we saw that one of the them separated, turned around in the opposite direction and flew back. Those of us who worked in the crankshaft plant stayed at the back. There was a small water tower. Each person from the factory had a specified post where to be. I was there with my father who worked in the factory as well. As the plane headed back, father told me: ‘Move a bit further away.’ We walked deeper into the forest, but we did not walk too far. Bombs began dropping down. If you see it from up close, it is completely different from what you had imagined. It sounded as if you run a stick on those roller shutters that cover shop windows. I felt that my legs collapsed with the blast. Then it seemed that it was over, but it was only for a while. We were just going back, and the last bomb dropped close to the water tower where we had been before. The plane was already turning back and the bomb smashed the water tower to pieces. One man from the crankshaft plant died there and others were injured. It was not nice at all.”

  • “There are now various theories about the reasons for the air raid at Svatý Ján. One army historian claimed that there were no records about what happened there. Usually there are precise documents, and it is known where each group of planes flew. But there are no records about this one. Maybe the bomber plane needed to get rid of the bomb load. He dropped only one set of bombs, but the plane has two bomb bays. I was thinking why he headed back if he had already flown over the ironworks and he got over the field. He could have dropped the bombs there. All the people in that ravine there wore working overalls. Perhaps he thought that they were soldiers, and there was this poorly made zigzag-shaped trench, which would not have saved anybody. He flew directly over that little valley. The first bomb dropped at the beginning of the ravine, and the last one at its end when he was already about to change direction.”

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    Kladno, 11.07.2014

    duration: 01:05:04
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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Music has helped me everywhere

Antonín Beneš
Antonín Beneš
photo: Archiv - Pamět národa

  Antonín Beneš was born May 6, 1929 in Kročehlavy near Kladno. Since his young years he was attending the monastery of the Calasanctius Order and he witnessed the persecution of the monks, their bravery, and the closing down of their monastery in 1950. After completing the higher elementary school in 1944 he began working in the crankshaft production plant of the Poldi Ironworks. On September 12, 1944, Antonín witnessed the bombardment of the wood near Svatý Ján in Dubí by American airplanes, which resulted in death of about thirty-five people. The reason for this incident still remains unclear. In 1950 he was drafted to basic military training, where he served as a signaler and which lasted for three years. Antonín played the violin already since he was a child, and later he also learnt the contrabass. After his military service he worked in Kladno and he was an amateur player in the Central Bohemian Philharmonic, which he established and whose first conductor was Josef Vašata.