“There was one Jewish family in Heřmanov, he was a butcher and his name was Bok and he had a nephew named Willi. We were about thirteen years old and he was about seventeen and he came to us and his knees were all sore and we asked him what had happened to him, and he said that Germans had caught him there and that they lock him up there and forced him to crawl on his knees up and down the staircase and then they let him go. When we were there, we could hear the bombing from Poland when we placed our heads against the ground. Nobody can believe it now, but the place was so silent that we were able to hear it. So that's how the war came near to us.”
“Not all of them were like this, this Willi, for instance, lived with one family and the gentleman came from Heřmanov and his wife was a German woman whom he had brought there when he had been doing his military service in Jihlava. She was so kind and she was an orphan, and Willi stayed in their home, and when the SS men came for him she would always deny that he was there. She would say that he was not at home and they believed her because she spoke German perfectly, but eventually they caught him and since he was a Jew, he has never come back.”
“We walked though Brno and the Hitlerjugend were there and I thought that we would be better than them, and although we never walked in the manner like they did, this time we marched briskly and we sang: ‘Hail to our homeland , hail to our homeland!’ We marched like this and until the ban on Scouting it was still possible; we had been raised in the spirit of patriotism and when Masaryk died, I was sitting by the radio and listening to the broadcast and I was eleven years old.”
Zdenka Čechová was born in the Husovice neighbourhood in Brno on February 5, 1926. Her father worked manual jobs and her mother was a housewife all the time. Sometimes she would go to work as a shop assistant. When the Second World War broke out, all schools became closed down and Zdenka’s parents decided that they would take their only daughter to her grandmother’s in the Vysočina region. The situation there was safer and more peaceful. Zdenka spent her time there in a relatively uneventful way, however, she also witnessed bad treatment of Germans done by Czechs after the end of the war, although the Germans had been living there with them for a long time and helping the Czechs during the war. Zdenka returned to her native Brno when the war was over. She witnessed a massive deportation of Germans. Due to her great sense for justice, she decided to study law and she became a public prosecutor. Her career was marred by the year 1968 when Czechoslovakia became occupied by the Warsaw Pact armies. She expressed her disapproval of the occupation in a radio broadcast of the Czech Radio where she criticized the event. Her act was followed by persecution, threats and anonymous phone calls. Zdenka Čechová decided to emigrate. After 1968 she packed her belongings and with her daughter she went to Switzerland via Austria. She was sentenced to four years of imprisonment for this. Zdenka was only able to return to Czechoslovakia after the Velvet Revolution and she now lives in Velké Meziříčí.