“Above all, I remember that although there were some thirty-five to forty people standing there, the place was absolutely quiet. The atmosphere was ominous. People were staring at the wreck of the car, and he was standing there, he was tall indeed, a German officer without a hat, with no hat! Nobody has ever seen a German without a hat. But the driver (of the lorry) was already bringing the hat to him. People were not speaking, they were just looking. What was interesting was that it was actually a trouble. Nobody knew whether there was some shooting, whether he was wounded or how badly. Nobody knew at that moment. All of them were just staring at Heydrich without a word, and there was silence! Absolutely, not a single person said a word, I remember that. Absolute silence! The people did not even know yet that he was Heydrich. They saw a German officer, something happened to him and they were standing by. But when sirens started, all of them rather ran away. But the people themselves... you mean, if somebody approached him when they saw that he was injured, and wanted to do well to the German and help him?! Were there people like that? No! The only person was the driver of the lorry who returned his hat to him. But the people who had got off the tram, or passers-by like me who were around, none of them said a word, nothing! An atmosphere of horror and fear prevailed over the place.”
“They led me to the barracks. Old summer clothes were placed on my bed. They were not ragged, but they were, well, summer clothes. But it was on April 14th (1950). I had to undress and put on these clothes, and two guys – they were not from there – grabbed me. They always sent some guards from Pohořelec. I had to change into those clothes! That was it! No car! Get into the tram! Get off! To Hradčany! No way! Down to the ground floor! I describe it correctly there (in my book). There is a damp stone wall. I had to undress completely and stand there barefoot and there I was. It was on 14th April and girls were walking outside and chestnut trees were about to start blooming. And I was in prison! I can tell you, I know well for how long I was standing there, because the bells of the Loreta church ring every hour. I was getting insane! ‘A Thousand Times We Greet Thee,’ over and over. And then he (the prison commander Zoula) came there and they transferred me to a death row. And there I was! Two months later I was sent to a quarry, and off I went! Gosh, what for, actually?! It was such a nonsense!”
“I crossed the Nad Kaštany Street and I walked towards the Riding Hall. The Riding Hall was on my right hand side. That was the easiest way, because the shortest route to Škoda was through the Prague Castle. I thus walked to the Castle and there were no guards, nobody was there! The sound of my boots was echoing through the courtyard, and I walked to the St Vitus cathedral to see if somebody was there… no! I walked back… you now, there is that building which has several floors. When you enter, you see a vaulted ceiling. And from those spacious rooms there is a whitewashed staircase which leads to the first floor. I called out: ‘Hallo, hallo!’ I was waiting if… no! There was not a single person there! I thus walked through the third courtyard and through the second courtyard and I was peeking into all those corridors. Gentlemen, there I was in the Prague Castle, all by myself! On the victory day there was nobody protecting the symbol of our statehood. Just a Škoda company watchman. I was naturally unarmed. I did want to bring a rifle, but they did not give me one, they did not allow me to. I walked all the way to Matthias Gate and there was nobody around. It already began to get dark. Three or four steps from the gate in the direction of Hradčany Square, there was a guy sitting there in a trench coat, sitting on his heels, and he did not fall. He was dead. He was certainly dead, because I called at him, and nothing. Nobody fired at me, because it was already quite dark.”
Girls were walking outside and chestnut trees were starting to bloom. And I was in prison
Liboš Buben was born on May 9, 1926 in Rychnov nad Kněžnou. In October 1941 he and his mother moved to Kobylisy in Prague. When he was sixteen years old, he witnessed first-hand the site of the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich shortly after the attack. In autumn 1944 he began working in the General Headquarters of the Škoda company in Prague as a technician for typewriters and computing machines. On February 14, 1945 he watched the American bombing of Prague from the roof of the company’s building. The next day he was sent to Brno to work on digging trenches there. Two months later he became sick with scurvy and he nearly succumbed to the disease. On May 5, 1945 he was on Wenceslas Square when the Prague Uprising broke out. Liboš found a shelter in his workplace. He was issued a rifle and until May 9 he monitored the situation from the roof of the building (present-day City Hall of Prague and Palace Adria). In autumn 1948 he began his basic military service in the Military Hospital in Prague-Střešovice. Half a year before his duty was over he was accused of allegedly defaming the army and the officers’ corps and without a chance for defending himself he was immediately put to the army prison in Prague-Hradčany. He was sentenced to seven months in a labour camp. Liboš served his sentence in a quarry in Dobřichovice and in the stronghold in Kuřivody where he was doing reconstruction work. When he completed his sentence he had to serve additional seven months in the Auxiliary Technical Battalions. He returned home in spring 1951 and he began working as a repairman of boiler systems in the company Sdružená řemesla (“United Trades”) and later he worked in the same company as a repairman of elevators. At the end of the 1950s he worked as a serviceman of forklifts and then he worked on elevators again. He retired in 1986. Died in March 2017.