Vladimír Bernát

* 1927  †︎ 2020

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I don’t know where I found the power to survive

Vladimír Bernát, a portrait
Vladimír Bernát, a portrait
photo: archiv pamětníka

Vladimír Bernát was born on December 27th 1927 to a large Czech family living in Mohelnice. Following the Munich Agreement, the Bernáts were one of the few Czech families that stayed in the town occupied by the Germans. Before his fourteenth birthday, Vladimír had been loaded into a cattle train and sent to perform forced labour in Nazi Germany. Shortly before the end of the Second World War he had been ordered to dig trenches near the town of Neisse. As he was issued a German uniform he found himself in another train a month later. This time he was heading to the Soviet Union as a prisoner of war, where he had to endure terrible living conditions for almost five years. After he finally left the gates of a prisoner-of-war-camp, he didn’t get home, as he was repatriated to the newly established Federal Republic of Germany. It took him a year and a half to get to Czechoslovakia where a Communist regime had already been established. As a prisoner of war coming back from the hostile country of the Western Block, he faced suspicion and was drafted into the Auxiliary Technical Battalions and sent to work in the mines for two more years. After leaving the army, he did a blue-collar job in MEZ Mohelnice enterprise till retirement. In 1954 he married Jarmila Šlesingerová and fathered five children. In 2018, when the interview was recorded, he had been living in Mohelnice. Vladimír Bernát passed away on November 3rd, 2020.