Štěpán Böhm

* 1938

  • “My cousin who was the same age as me was begging for food. My grandfather was there and was calming him. One of the revolution guardsmen took out a pistol and shot him; as a kid, I was utterly shocked to see that. That was very harsh. I don’t think there was anything as harsh after that. Later on, when my [relocated] relatives visited us after 1968, they remembered that keenly and they were homesick. But they were already accustomed to the new environment and said they wouldn’t come back. So, there was definitely no need to be afraid of them coming back one day.”

  • “My father was not a soldier. Yet, in ’43, he had to join [the Wehrmacht] as a telephone operator. At first, he was somewhere in the Alps, he told me. He ended up in Russian captivity. He was educated and knew what to do. There was an air raid, and he knew where some live wires were. He soaked the blankets, threw them over the wires and shorted them out. Then they ran away during the raid. Then he was in American captivity and they would pull dead bodies out of the sea. I know he even gave his wedding ring for a piece of bread, to have something to eat. Then he voluntarily went into Russian captivity again because he wanted to go back to Czechoslovakia. They assigned him to Znojmo and he had to wait for verification. It took several months; I know we went to visit him. Was it three months or so? When they released him, he went to work as an electrician with a firm immediately.”

  • “I remember the bombing started towards the end of the war, primarily the train station in Znojmo. There were freight trains with tanks and combat equipment for military forces that were retreating almost to Slovakia – that’s what the air raids targeted. The bombing was so imprecise that we had to sleep in our neighbours’ cellar for several days in Tasovice. I remember my mother telling me: ‘Stay close to the wall – the bullets won’t not hit you that way.’ We crawled along the wall, I recall. There was an air raid in Znojmo – the sirens went on – as we were walking. There was no other way but to hide in a bunker under the train station. When the raid was over, we found that a half of the station was levelled. They said almost 300 people hidden there had died. We were in the other half of the station and were lucky to survive. I’ve been through that, and it was not nice for sure.”

  • Full recordings
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    Brno, 11.08.2022

    duration: 02:32:17
    media recorded in project Příběhy regionu - JMK REG ED
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They aimed a gun at me. I covered myself with the blanket and thought they’d shoot me

Štěpán Böhm in 2022
Štěpán Böhm in 2022
photo: Post Bellum

Štěpán Böhm was born on 29 November 1938 in Tasovice in the Znojmo region in a partially German family of Alžběta and Štěpán Böhms. Due to their German origins, the family was not expelled from Tasovice in the Sudetenland after the Munich crisis. The father was forced to join the Wehrmacht in 1943, was captured by the Russians and then the Americans, and did not return home until after the war. Štěpán remembers the bombing of the Znojmo area in 1945 and soviet liberators’ violence. As part of the post-war movements, the witness’s grandfather and his father’s siblings were compelled to leave Tasovice. Grandfather Jakub was shot by the revolutionary guardsmen on Štěpán’s watch during the deportation. The family moved to Karlovy Vary in 1947 where Štěpán completed his primary education and then graduated from an automotive technical school in Zábřeh na Moravě. He achieved success in 1962 in the Zelená Marsu (Green Light for Mars) competition focused on innovation; he was working at Závody průmyslové automatizace in Trutnov at the time. As a reward, he went to Cuba, but the Cuban Missile Crisis burst out and his three-week trip eventually took one year – he was unable to leave Cuba for safety concerns. Štěpán Böhm held several jobs, mostly in the Karlovy Vary area. He retired due to health problems in 1972. During the Velvet Revolution, he was active in the Civic Forum in Karlovy Vary. He moved to Brno in 2002 and was still living there when he was interviewed by Memory of Nation (2022).