“We were told to go to Bohušovice to unload bags with cement. It was no fun. We didn’t know how to do it. You needed to have a knack for it and grab it correctly. You had to take care not to break it, because otherwise the wardens would kick you. So these were my first impressions. But for [Zdeněk] Kubeš, our classmate – I don’t remember all of them anymore – it has cost him his life. He got pneumonia. There was a Krankenzimmer, sick room, and they left him there, and when they saw that it was serious, they sent him to the hospital in Litoměřice. So, some of them did behave a bit responsibly. He died in the hospital.”
“There were about one hundred of them imprisoned, and the reason they were interned in Špilberk was that they were relatives of Jan Kubiš who assassinated Heydrich. There were the relatives of Gabčík, too, but I don’t know this exactly. I only remember the Kubiš family. There were many of them; I can say there were a hundred of them, or perhaps fifty. It has been a long time ago, and it is hard to give a precise estimate. There were about ten of them who were placed in our cell number four. There were several relatives of Kubiš. At that time we didn’t know yet that they were his relatives. It was the first time we met them and we probably didn’t even know that they were from Kubiš’s extended family. (…) What was interesting was that one of them pulled out a loaf of bread and I have no idea how he managed to smuggle it in, because they had been imprisoned in Špilberk before. (…) They were related, but they didn’t know the Kubiš who shot Heydrich at all.”
“We had our accommodation in Ústí nad Labem, and for that we cleaned one dormitory where German nurses from the hospital had stayed before. The hospital was nearby. It was a hell of a work, and what happened – although I wasn’t there to see that with my own eyes – it was in summer, and one of the boys in shorts came into the room and the other one tells him: ‘Man, your legs are all black.’ There were fleas. The fleas somehow spread there, probably because nobody lived in the building for a long time. And there were many of them. It was not pleasant, but we had to keep the beds there, and we took all the other things outside and sent them somewhere to a dumpsite. In this way we thus worked to open the technical school.”
“Ústí nad Labem was the closest city, and we thus decided that we would set up the school in Ústí and so we arrived there. It was not just something which we would have agreed upon with the boys, but we had an official approval, probably from the national committee, and they agreed with us going there and establishing the school there. We went there to prepare the school. I would say that most of us who later studied there went there at that time. The building served as a military hospital during the war, and at first we needed to clear out the building. We found some teaching aids that were useful; some of them were not, because the building had probably served as a different kind of school before, but not a technical school. Or perhaps it had been originally a technical school, I don’t know. But we eventually managed to open the technical school there and we also managed to find some teachers.”
“The weather was splendid, just like some of the past days here now. The weather was great and with the boys we had planned to go to Lípa in the afternoon and swim there and have fun. It was on Friday or Saturday. Saturday used to be a working day. We had agreed that we would go swimming that day, but the Gestapo arrived. We saw two buses, and nothing was happening. We thus thought: ‘What are they doing here?’ One of them came into the classroom and said that we were not allowed to go out and that we should be quiet. He left again. The atmosphere was very tense and we were saying to each other: ‘It will be OK, and we will go swimming in the afternoon.’ Those buses were waiting for us.”
Serious things which had threatened your life are vanishing from your mind, and only a memory remains
Ing. Karel Beránek was born December 17, 1925 in Bílina in northern Bohemia. His father Karel worked as an innkeeper and his mother Anna was a housewife. He attended the elementary school in Břežánky, in Duchcov and in Roudnice nad Labem, where he then continued studying at the higher elementary school. Later he studied at the Secondary Technical School in Roudnice. On June 20, 1942, when he was a student of the second grade, he and his classmates were arrested directly in the school building. The pretext for their arrest was planned assassination of Oberlehrer (head teacher) Alfred Bauer, but the students were also accused of leading a resistance organization. All the second-grade and seventh-grade students of this school were arrested together with boys from the sixth grade of the Grammar School in Roudnice nad Labem. The arrested students were taken to the Small Fortress in Terezín. After being interrogated, Karel Beránek worked on the Terezín fortifications, but later he was also sent to work outside as part of the work commandos to Ústí nad Labem, where he worked for the railway (so-called Reichsbahn), in the Schicht factory in Ústí nad Labem which produced soap, and then in a factory in Lovosice where he helped with fruit processing. On December 4, 1942 he was released and he was to report to the labour office in Ústí nad Labem. He was assigned to Hněvice near Roudnice, where he worked as an unskilled labourer in a German factory. At the end of the war he joined the Revolutionary National Committee in Ústí nad Labem (later Revolutionary Guards), and he began studying again as soon as the technical school, which succeeded their Secondary Technical School in Roudnice, reopened. He graduated in 1946. In the same year he was admitted to the Czech Technical University, where he studied mechanical engineering. He married in 1951. He worked in the Research Institute for Heavy Machinery and in the State Research Institute for High Voltage Electrical Engineering. He eventually became the head of the laboratories, and he was active in the Interelektro company. Apart from work in the research institutes he also taught at technical schools and he worked as a clerk for social affairs. Before his retirement he was employed in the Construction Institute. He now lives in Prague. Karel Beránek died on 3 July 2019.