Vladimír Brouček

* 1923  †︎ 2015

  • “That was sometime in March in Mariánská, they brought in the four Jehovists. They spread them out throughout the camps so as to better tame them. At Mariánská, the cooler was just concrete all around, you couldn't even stand there properly. I don't know how long the Jehovists were there, I can't remember any more. They kept refusing to go mine. So as punishment they gave them halved rations as for defaulters, that is one dumpling, and they had to go outside and stand at the cooler from morning call till lights out. And one day someone threw them a piece of bread. But the bloke who sat on the crow's nest saw it. So they said to them: ‘Until you tell us who threw that to you, you'll stay standing.’ So they stood there for three days and four nights. In the cold, without food. There was still snow then, water was dripping from the drain pipes, but it froze up during the nights. They one by one they fell. They took them somewhere else, and I didn't find out what happened to them after that. So they were capable of such beastliness.”

  • “So I told him my name, where I'm from, why I'm there... I had the summons with me, so I showed them to him. And he said: ‘Herr Bruček, don't you worry about it. Why, you'll be home by Christmas. We can't win this war.’ So I said to myself: ‘Goodness, is he trying to provoke me?’ But he wasn't!”

  • “It was all over in one day. There were thirty of us at court. I got three years, one of us got two, one girl got eight months, and all the rest got over ten. Me, that I had wanted to abandon the republic, as soon as it had abandoning the republic or weapons in it, the charges were high treason and espionage. On top of that I was accused of misprision of felony, as Pepík's father had weapons hidden somewhere. There was also a boy there, his name was František Král, from Chrudim. He was, I think, not quite twenty yet. He got twelve years. When the judge asked him why he had committed ‘those crimes’, they didn't speak in specifics, they spoke about ‘those crimes’, then he said: ‘Well, Your Honour, I wanted do my bit to help re-establish a republic like the republic of Beneš and of Masaryk was.’ The judge leapt up and snarled: ‘A republic, where they shot at workers!’ Then there was one Zdeněk Douša who was convicted together with that Eliáš. When he came up to the bar, the prosecutor said to him: ‘It is known of you, that you were an enemy to the people's democratic establishment.’ So he, as he was holding his hat in his hands, he threw it up like this, turned like this and said: ‘Wrong, Mr. Chairman. That is not true. I AM an enemy to the people's democratic establishment!’ He got a month in the cooler for that. And when the prosecutor introduced me, he said: ‘And the next accused in this quagmire of felony is Vladimír Brouček.’ ”

  • “Possibly the greatest experience was my release. February the Second, it was heaped with snow in Jáchymov, frost, wind. And there was a custom there that when someone went home, any better clothes he had on him, he gave to a friend. As the last thing I was to go from Mariánská to the central camp, where I had my civilian clothes, my shoes, hardly wind-tight, my trousers, short, I hadn't any foot rags, as I'd given those away, my coat was small... And now we were waiting for the bus, the warden in a fur coat, decked in fur, and I was shivering. Until at last the bus arrived. It was warm inside, that was nice. We'd been driving along for a bit, and the one miner that was with us says: ‘Karel, stop!’ He says: ‘What?’ - ‘Stop, I mean look at this poor bloke, his nose is all white! What do the bastards do to them people in there?!’ My nose was white, it had frozen. So those civilians took some snow and rubbed my nose. My fingers itched for several years after that.”

  • “All in all I did about a year's time in Pankrác, although I was sentenced to ten months. I did time in section A1. To the left of me was Sláva Šádek, and two cells to the right Milan Choc. And those were, I think, the first that the communists hanged here. It was horrible when the bell men brought the news that Šádek and Choc had been executed. Seeing as we'd been next door to each other, we'd shared our gate time with Sláva Šádek. We always went out, me first from number ninety-one, he behind me from ninety-two. That way we could talk in secret. Whereas Choc, they took him separate even to the bathroom, and he had his own gate time. Šádek's lawyers promised him they'd get him a pardon, that he'd be sent to work in the Pankrác carpenter's shop. But Choc was meant to be hanged either way. Later I heard that the warden came for Šádek, said he should pack his things, that he's going to the carpenter's. But he was going to the noose, to the death cell. They played him like that.”

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    Slatiňany u Chrudimi, 16.07.2011

    duration: 03:20:00
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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The next accused in this quagmire of felony is Vladimír Brouček!

photo: Archiv Vladimíra Broučka

Vladimír Brouček was born on the 23rd of May 1923 in Radhošť in the district of Vysoké Mýto. He spent his childhood years in Zámrsk near Choceň. After graduating from the local business academy, in February 1943 he was sent to forced labour at the airfield in Erding, Bavaria, which was a maintenance and distribution point for used military machine parts. He remained there until April 1945. After the war he went through two jobs, but already in March 1948 he was imprisoned for commenting on the naming of Zdeněk Nejedlý minister of education. He spent only a quarter of a year there, but he back on his way to jail soon after. Both because of a pamphlet with Edvard Beneš’s speech to Klement Gottwald at the signing of the abdication of the democratic ministers, which he had lent to a colleague - there it had been discovered - and because he and a friend had been arrested while attempting to cross into the GFR through Aš and the GDR. So he spent a year mostly at Pankrác [a Prague prison - transl.], which was a place of frequent hangings at the time. He was accused a third time in 1952, this time for high treason and espionage, when it leaked out that he was planning another attempt to emigrate west - he was sentenced to three years of prison. He spent two years in the Jáchymov mines, first at Bratrství [Brotherhood] Camp, then at Mariánská [Marian]. In the end he was released a year early, by amnesty, in 1954.