Olga Berková

* 1924  

  • “The Russians took all the horses as they passed to the front line. So we hid a mare, a strong and beautiful horse. She hadnt seen the aoutside world for seven months and she had a foal. The yard was full of horses but she wouldn’t let out a sound. She was smart, raised at home. When the Russians returned they dogged out the horses. There was a boy who helped us. They wanted to trade barley for oat. We needed barley because we had enough of oat. We told him not to let the Russian inside. But the Russian insisted to take the sack to the barn himself and he went and opened the door, he let the sack fall on the ground when he saw the horse and the foal. He took the oat and went back and told everybody. Then he opened all the doors and gates and took the mare. I ran out and I was crying. The officer shouted: ‘Ola, Ola.’ The Russians were always there because one group left and the other came as the front pine moved. I told the others that they took our horse. They asked where they had gone. ‘To the woods.’ Three of them jumped in a jeep and we set out to find them. I went with them. We caught them 3 km further, near the woods, stopped them and shooting began and the first group was disarmed… The Russians had Mongolian horses, they were small so the soldiers touched the ground with their feet. They had to give the horse back. The officer told us to hide it and that nobody would take it again. He was very angry at the soldiers and said: ‘You will by shot for this.’ I asked him not to shoot them and he said: ‘They will be prosecuted,’ and took them somewhere… The Russians took everything, mainly the horses. And we had the mare hidden again.

  • “My name is Berková Olga, I was born on 1st July 1924 in Hradiště na Volyni, Ostrožec district. The village used our house as a school because we had a big house and there I also passed my school education. In 1939 I finished school and we were conquered by the Russians. In 1941 the Germans came. The Russians didn’t have time to establish their collective farms, so we still had our farm. My father died in the 40s and we atyed alone with my mother. Father was a farmer. When the Russians were on a retreat a there was a battle near our place. A Russian woman lead the soldiers and the Germans attacked them. A lot of people died.”

  • “When the war was over And everything was over, the Bandera groups began to raid. But nobody knew about the mare. When we took her out of the barn or hitched her up and she made two steps and stood still. The horse was stiff from standing. A horse must walk every day or every other day. This one didn’t move for seven months. A Czech boy wanted to date me. I didn’t want to and he went and told the Bandera groups that we were hiding horse. And they came and said: ’Ola, you got a horse, we will take it.’ I was crying and I asked my mother to open the door because I couldn’t. But my mother was sick: ‘No, you go, open the barn.’ We had it hidden in a long barn with a gate locked with a bar. There were storage rooms where we also had our classroom. There were three rooms to use, one more for cooking and, for the hogs and a small cot so that nobody would expect that we keep there a horse. I opened the gate and gave it to them. He wanted to saddle her but she was screaming, jumping and then she fell on the ground. He was beating her and finally managed to fix the saddle. He rode the horse out of the yard, she was turning around and jumping, he was beating her and finally tamed her and went away. He left, but brought us a Mongolian horse, but a nice one. We took it to Bohemia. He changed the horses because if he didn’t so we would have taken the mare instead. The Russians attacked the Bandera group. That was already after the war. They took our mare and brought her to the Ostrožce district. Two soldiers came (there was a school in our house, so they knew the place) and said: ’Ola, come take your horse, we know its yours, the Banderas told us everything.’ So I ran to my uncle and told him that the horse was still alive and that we had to go to Ostrožec to take it, but it had to be a one by one exchange. The uncle said: ‘No problem, we will send the Mongolian there.’ So the Russians did not come in vain. The next day we should have gone to take our Kaštanka for that was the horse’s name. But the other uncle came and said: ‘Are you crazy? Do you want to get shot by the Banderas? The situation is so confused. Let the horse stay there. You have a nice horse now, it should do for you.’ So we abandoned the idea and soon after that we were leaving to Bohemia.

  • “There was a doctor in the village, a local doctor for the village and he said that one of the soldiers would die. ‘He will get an injection to die.‘ He really said that inn front of me. I got up in the morning, my mother had already made the tea, I gave it to the soldiers and I fed the boy with a spoon. He was shouting: ‘Mother!’ So I served all with the tea and I said: ‘Doctor, the boy is alive and he calls his mother again.’ ‘No way, he died,’ the doctor said. ‘No, he lives again.’ The doctor took his bag, a box with the medicine and said: ’I will give him another injection to make his heart beating again.’ The boy was alive and the doctor ordered to send him with the first transport. He went to Rovno, because in there was war raging in Dubno, even the ground was on fire.”

  • “During the battle of Dukla, my cousin was wounded and blood was streaming from his lungs. His two uncles had seen him. Later on, they were looking for him at the cemetery, they thought he died… The Russians had taken him down to Caucasus to a hospital where he spent several months. There was no mail at the time. He returned home after six months when the war was still on. Once in the evening he went with other cousin to visit someone and a Bandera group came. Bandera groups were coming often, for example in winter, they would come to our yard riding horses… The Ukrainians didn’t want to enter the army, they stayed in the woods. They still wanted an independent state. So there were two armed Banderas and two more at a visit at one of the Czech residents and my cousins came there. Bandera groups took everything, hogs, cows, clothes and everything. The Czechs did what they wanted so they were still alive. The Russians came to the house and wanted everybody with a gun to come out. The Banderas said: ‘Go there, you are Czechs, they won’t kill you.’ They came to the corner of the house and the rockets came out, everybody stood frozen. The Russians didn’t know if they are Czechs or the Bandera fighters. The two fighters started running into the woods, there was a gunfight and both my cousins were shot dead, the cousin who came from the hospital… the whole village had greeted him with great joy and then he was dead in a minute. One of the fighters died the other run into the woods, but he also died, eventually, they buried him, but they had to say it was an old granny. The granny left the village. The Russians would otherwise have sent them to Siberia, if they had known it was their son. So this is how my cousins died.

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    Žatec, 24.09.2005

    (audio)
    duration: 39:01
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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“I wish for peace and for the nation to prosper, for people not stealing and killing each other. And foremost I wish for no more wars.”

Historical photo
Historical photo

Berková Olga was born on 1st July 1924 in Hradiště na Volyni, Ostrožec district. Young Olga worked at the farm and also nursing wounded soldiers. She witnessed the burning of the Czech village Malín. She speaks not only about the events of the war but also about her experience with the Russian, Ukrainian and German soldiers passing through her village. In April 1947 she moved to Czechoslovakia. She lived with her husband (a veteran from Dukla) first in Horšovský Týn, and then in Žatec. In 1981, they visited Olga’s native Hradiště na Volyni.