Ignác Bilík

* 1920  

  • “So he was there, his name was Josef Maxa. And with Zápotocký, they founded the Communistic Party in Kladno. He was chosen later to get steeled as a Communist in the Soviet Union. And he was talking about what he had experienced there. As they crossed the frontier they got separated. Workers, the Communists, were put into cattle wagons but this Josef was a master carpenter, which is an engineer there, so he got a normal carriage. They sent him somewhere down to Crimea where they were making some hall or theatre so he led the carpenters. And he had such a position that he had Saturdays and Sundays free and he got a horse and a barouche so he could also go to the countryside, and so he did. When he came to some village he didn’t find anyone there. Everyone was gone, there was nobody there. Well at first he found it strange. So he left the horse outside the village, put on normal working clothes, went back there and found some old people. They were running away from him so he caught them and asked why they were afraid, why they were running away. Well then he was a great journeyman so they had thought he wanted to put them in prison. This was the situation there. So he went home, took his party membership card, went to see Zápotocký and told him what he had gone through there, what it was. That it was all swindle, this Communism. And that he was going to leave the Party and so he did. But Zápotocký didn’t, he stayed there. “

  • „In Leopoldov, I was in one cell with Gustav Husák. Well, I remember one such a thing about him. He was such an honest prisoner. With the feathers, it was difficult to meet the target. It was found out that when a bucket of water is poured into the stripped feathers, you can even surpass the target. And that Gustav, he didn’t want to go at it with us; he didn’t want to cheat on the customers outside so he worked honestly and didn’t let us pour the water in. This is really true, I’ve seen it. And we took no notice of it, provided we met the target. But he didn’t. We got one more slice of bread and he didn’t. As a friend there he was fine, normal. But as a communistic idiot he was an idiot. I told him so. For he still praised Communism and the Russians, I cannot betray the USSR. And he didn’t want to trick them with feathers either.”

  • I had some anti-Communist leaflets hidden so I was looking for them. I put them by the lawn mower but there was nothing there. I asked my dad and he says: ‘I found them so I destroyed them because I knew that they mustn't find it by you. I knew what the Germans were like and so are the Communists.’ When I got imprisoned, he told my wife that I wasn’t coming back, that this was the end. That he knew it from Russia.”

  • “In Mírov, I have one such experience. The leader of our group, curate Felix Davídek, when there was a frisk the door opened, someone called out ‘Attention!’, everyone had to stand up at attention and they made a search. Once they came again and called ‘Attention!’ but Felix didn’t stand up or anything, he was looking out of the window which had a nice view. The commander got angry: ‘Davídek, what are you doing there?’ Felix said nothing, he was still looking out of the window so the commander went in and says: ‘Convicted Davídek, what are you doing there?’ And he says: ‘I’m waiting for it to burst!’ They didn’t know what to do so they reported him and he got 28 days in a dark cell. I told him he’s playing with fire but he replied: ‘I will at least have a rest there.’ He didn’t need to do the knitting, the nets nor the envelopes.”

  • “Rudolf Slánský’s daughter was kidnapped when they were in Moscow so he was investigating it and found out that it had been committed by the wife of some great Communist, that it was her who took the little daughter away. He was so afraid to report it was her who had kidnapped the daughter that he did not report it at all. So when Lébl told me about this, I say: ‘It serves him well, son of a bitch, to be hanged.’ Richard Slánský was an ambassador in Iran; they came for him to go back so he went back. They told him he was arrested. He got a slap on his face and he was to go to court. So he went but he didn’t get the rope. He told them about it, he didn’t conceal it, even the thing about his brother being afraid to report the disappearance of his daughter. Lébl had it clear, he was the most sensible one. He was also thinking about why he got imprisoned. So he discovered that once he went with this Višinský and criticized something, maybe that Rudolf because of the little girl. So then it was a revenge that he got imprisoned. But he didn’t bother. “

  • “But when Višénka started to investigate me, he’s already dead, and also Zlámalík from Polešovice, so this Višénka asked me: ‘Mr Bilík, what do you think of us?’ And I say: ‘I think you’re worse than the Gestapo.’ And he got somehow perplexed... During a search they found at me a book in which I had slogans from the last rally of the Sokol organization. It said: ‘Beneš to the rally, Gottwald to the rubbish.’ So first they claimed it was me who made it up and spread it. So I said I wasn’t that active. When I told him they were worse than the Gestapo, that Višénka wanted to know for three weeks who I got it from. I told him I didn’t make it up nor spread it, that I kept it as a memento. So he wanted to know who I got it from. At that moment I was already clever enough not to say the name and I took it upon me. He wanted to show me that they are not the Gestapo so he didn’t torture me but it took him three weeks to want me to say it. But then they didn’t ask me anymore as to who gave the slogans to me. The investigator Miloš Zlámalík from Polešovice was an assistant. Višénka was the main one, the swollen-headed. And that Miloš, he was bored so just to say something he goes: ‘Mr Bilík, it’s yours, isn’t it? Gottwald to the rubbish.’ I say: ‘You see, you haven’t heard it from me but I have already heard it twice from you.’ So that was the end of investigations and everything. I told them this and they wanted to prove that they’re better. That Miloš wanted to laugh at me so he kept saying it but I tripped him up and they felt so ashamed they let me be and didn’t want anything else from me.”

  • “Dolní Počernice, I taught religion there. In 1940 I was arrested by the Gestapo because I was on the list of members of the Defence of the Nation. My name was found there so they wanted to know how the things had been. So I told them what had happened. ‘You wanted to shoot at our soldiers?’ And I say: ‘Yes.’ I got a slap on my face right away. There was another guy from us, a barrister, and he knew he mustn’t give away anything. They asked him: ‘Did you want to shoot at our soldiers?’ He says: ‘No.’ ‘So why did you have the gun?’ ‘Well, the war was approaching so I wanted to shoot a hare to have some food.’ They laughed at it that he had made it up so nicely and didn’t hurt him. I know that if I said this after the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich I would be executed. But not at that time. I was sent to the Kounic residence and from there to Breslau (Warsaw) where I went to a trial and was sentenced to six years for preparing high treason. Back here in Hradiště I got twelve years for high treason. When I said: ‘How come, I haven’t committed any treason, I have just helped people across the border,’ the assistant of the Attorney General Dr Javora told me: ‘You haven’t committed high treason with a gun, it was ideological high treason.’ At that time this was worse than the one with a gun. I say: ‘Well then, Mr Attorney, show me an article in which there is ideological high treason.’ And he didn’t say a word to this. Later, when the jails (in Germany) were overcrowded, from time to time they took a convoy to some concentration camp. But it always missed me; I haven’t been to any concentration camp, only prisons.”

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    Uherské Hradiště, 29.07.2008

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The Gestapo, as opposed to the Czechoslovak State Security, didn’t force people to confess on the basis of trumped-up trials

Ignác Bilík
Ignác Bilík
photo: Pavla Krystýnová

  Ignác Bilík was born on 31 July 1920 in the village of Boršice, near Buchlovice, in the region of Uherské Hradiště. He finished his studies of teaching at primary schools in Svatý Jan pod Skalou. As a member of the Defence of the Nation he was arrested by the Gestapo in 1941 and sentenced to six years for high treason.  He went through several German prisons, from which he was set free in 1945. In 1951 he was arrested by Communists for harbouring and assisting with getaways of wanted persons.  He was interrogated in Uherské Hradiště where he spent a year in custody and then was sentenced to twelve years in prison for high treason. He went through prisons in Mírov and Leopoldov where he did his time together with Gustav Husák and Richard Slánský. Then there were the Uranium mines in the region of Jáchymov - Rovnost, Prokop and Vykmanov. Ignác Bilík was released under an amnesty in 1960. As a qualified teacher he has never come back to his original profession and made his living as a bricklayer.