Antonín Bohatý

* 1913  †︎ 2010

  • “There was Dorohostaje, and Malín, another big town which was burnt down. There were many Czech villages there. Malovaná, Šalava, all these Czech villages were around there. They were Czech, but under the Polish rule. Until 1939 they were all governed by Poland. Then in 1939 the Russians came and seized the place.”

  • “In Volhynia there was a neighbour and her husband was a Jew. He had two daughters and his wife died and he remarried. And his new wife hated one of the daughters. She always went hungry. She crossed the road over to our house. We gave her food and whatever we could. The girl began to like us. And then Germans took her to a camp. Mom said: ´I pity that poor girl. I’ll go there and if I can get her, I will bring her here.´ I told her: ´Fine, go then.´ She went and she really got her out of the camp. There were not Germans, but Ukrainians, and she bribed them and told them that she’d like that particular girl. They told her: ´We’ll get her for you.´ They went and loaded straw on a wagon, put the girl there and covered her with the straw. The Germans asked: ´Where are they going?´ - ´To take straw to the cow house.´ Thus Mom brought her home. Then we brought her with us all the way here to Czechoslovakia.”

  • “At home we owned twenty hectares of land, we also had two pairs of horses. Over the road there was a barn, and a large open space in front of it. And the uhlans (Polish light cavalry) set up a camp there by the garden and the barn when they had their field drill. They practiced there. I was watching them. Then I would always go home to the stable and practice on my horses. And when I later came to Cracow, the corporal ordered: ´Bohatý, your turn.´ There was a large barn, a horse was running around there, and I had to jump on its back and make turns. Exercises like that. So I went. And when I finished, he said: ´Get down.´ I dismounted. He asked me: ´Where have you learnt all that?´ I replied: ´Where? The uhlans were there and thus I learnt.´ He called the major and told him: ´Look at him!´ The major was looking at me and then told the corporal: ´See, it’s not necessary to waste horses on him. He already knows all this.´”

  • “And the Germans sent tanks against us. I have to say there were guys who haven’t even fired a single shot at Germans and they got killed there. Many of them died there. I saw them and opened machine-gun fire at them. The Germans rode in those tanks. The machine-gunners saw me firing at them, and they jumped down from the tanks and hid behind them. Then on the third day I got shot as well. My back was shredded to pieces. I was then lying in a hospital in Russia for three months.”

  • “I had fought in the army here. Then I went home, because my wife wrote me that it was the harvest season and she didn’t know how she would manage to harvest it all. Thus I went home. When I arrived, the lieutenant came to me some two weeks after and asked me: ´You were in the forest? You know where the Bandera’s groups are?´ I replied: ´I don’t know where they are.´ We argued. And that bastard insisted that I knew where the Bandera’s groups were. I told him: ´I did fight and I know what was where. But I don’t know about such people here...´ ´I don’t care. I’ll send you to Siberia.´ And he wanted to take me to Siberia. He was from NKVD. In NKVD he was a hell of a politician. And if you argued, he could ruin you and have you sent to Siberia, and what not. I got so angry, and my brother was also there. He said: ´What shall we do?´ I replied: ´Nothing.´ We distilled two litres of spirit and took some lard and went to him and we had him drink it. And after that he told me: ´You know what, damn those Bandera’s groups.´ And he left me alone. But he told me: ´I know, you are running away from us communists to Czechoslovakia. But we will follow you there.´ And later they really did.”

  • “They came and said that they wanted apples. I had a large apple-tree orchard. So I went down to the cellar and brought them a basket of apples and they took them. And in the morning, a Russian came, claiming: ´The Bandera’s members were in your place.´ ´No, they weren’t,´ I replied. ´They were!´ ´They were not!´ We were arguing. But these bastards were not from Bandera’s groups, but they were his own soldiers. They came because they knew... and then they returned and said that I had given them the apples.”

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    Šumperk, 30.03.2010

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We brought this Jewish girl, Milka, all the way to Czechoslovakia

Antonín Bohatý
Antonín Bohatý
photo: Pamět národa - Archiv

Antonín Bohatý was born February 2, 1913, in Libánovka, Volhynia, which was then tsarist Russia. After 1920 this part of Volhynia was governed by Poland, and he thus spent a great part of his childhood under the Second Polish Republic. During the war his mother Anna Bohatá saved their neighbour, Jewish girl Minďa, from certain death. She undertook her rescue in spite of the fact that if discovered, not only her, but the whole family would risk death. During the family’s re-emigration in 1947 they changed her name Minďa to Milka Bohatá and they registered her as their own daughter. She thus moved with them to Czechoslovakia. With the exception of her sister, all of Minďa’s family perished in a concentration camp. In 1944 Antonín Bohatý joined the Czechoslovak army corps. As a machine-gunner he took part in the fighting at Krosno. After just three days he was wounded and he spent three months in Yaroslavl recovering. After his recovery he was summoned to fight near the town of Vrútky. The end of the war met him near Přerov. He was demobilized shortly after and returned to Volhynia to his wife and daughter. On his way he was stopped by the Soviet army, and assigned to join the army, which was intended to support the USA in the fighting against Japan. He was released from the Soviet army after the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He then stayed in Volhynia only briefly, but even during this short time he was nearly sent to Siberia on account of being suspected from supporting Bandera’s groups. In 1947 he re-emigrated with his family to Czechoslovakia and settled in Úsov near Mohelnice. He died on November 11th, 2010, in a retirement home in Šumperk.