“A friend of mine, a bit older than me, was working there. He got hired. I don’t remember exactly, but he had to pay some bond, to make a guarantee. It was difficult to get there. Baťa was constructing a railway there at that time, and the demand for work was huge, and Baťa could choose from the applicants, thus making it difficult. Everyone had to convince the company somehow that he was able to do something, that he could endure something. He managed to get employment there. When I saw it, I tried as well. But I didn’t get accepted. Only later in 1941, in February, I eventually did get in. I didn’t go for the railroad construction anymore, but went to Baťov, or Otrokovice, instead. The town was called Baťov, because Baťa had built it on a swamp, they built a town there. They called it Bahňák or Blaťák.”
“I had been reading adventure novels from the Wild West a lot – by Karl May. I read all his books about Indians. As boy I loved games when we pretended we were Indians. I learned to crawl stealthily just like Vinnetou or Old Shatterhand did, and I also learned how to camouflage myself – using feathers, twigs and becoming invisible in bushes. And moving by leap-frogs, and things like that. I had learned it and I began teaching it to this Belgian guy. He was a diligent student, learning the movements, and then it paid off to us at the turn of 1944 and 1945 when the fighting was going on. Fortunately, the fighting was going on in the south, and we needed to get to the west. Plus we were also just plain lucky. Thanks to these tricks we had learned, this knowledge of the natives (in order to camouflage ourselves we smeared mud on our faces, attached twigs to our bodies and began crawling) and thus we managed to get on the other side and to get out of the reach of the armed forces.”
"Bata, like every other company in the Republic was obliged to give to the unemployment office the total number of workers for forced labor to Germany. And on January 25,1943, I received notice that the on the 27 January I was to start working for some company in Dresden. I eventually had to go there, because police would then come to pick all those who hadn’t come. We drove through Prague at that time, I remember. Over the Masaryk train station. "
“There were twenty young men from Baťa’s factory who arrived with me. Since I was the only one able to speak German, the company made me a liaison between our Czech group and their managers. But I could also speak French and Russian quite well, and there were Russian and French prisoners… We were strictly forbidden to contact the Russian prisoners. Some veteran, who had returned wounded from the battle, from Russia, was interpreting for them. But since his language skills were not that great, they would always call me to help with the translation. Thus I was interpreting for the Russians. Instructions from their leaders – what they were to do and how, and so on.”
“Later I got into an awkward situation. From time to time I was able to get to the Russians there, and since our people knew what their situation was, they were giving me bread and some food for them and I was handing it over to the Russians. I always did it this way. But somebody, a man from Sudeten, informed upon me, and I got into trouble. The company director and owner Kurt Knorre called me to his office and told me that this couldn’t be, that I knew that we were not allowed to approach the Russians and if I went to them I had to be accompanied by the company employees. If I went there by myself, it was an offence, and then he wouldn’t be able to cover me. Just by the way he let me know that it was a Sudetenlander who had turned me in. I was very careful from then on.”
I read a lot of adventure novels when I was growing up - and it paid off
Mečislav Černý, a major currently in retirement, was born in 1919 to a Czech family living in Warsaw, Poland. At the end of the 1930’s, due to the deteriorating economic situation, the family returned to Czechoslovakia to live in Dubňany, near Hodonín. Mr. Černý studied at higher elementary school here. He graduated from the grammar school in Hodonín in 1938. In 1941, he began searching for employment, and he eventually found a job in Bata’s factory in Otrokovice. He then worked for the same compnay in Zlin until the beginning of 1043, when he was sent to a forced labor factory in Dresden, Germany were he produced parts of aerial weapons. Thanks to his extraordinary language skills he worked there as an interpreter and in this position he tried to help the most discriminated of the prisoners, especially those from the Soviet Union.
Following that, he was interrogated by the Gestapo and transferred to another factory in Zwickau. But he didn’t stay here for long either - shortly after he was assigned for work in the western front where he was to dig trenches to support the German offensive which was being prepared. With his Belgian coworker, he managed to escape and reach the American units. With Polish army volunteers, he later got to Paris and from there to Great Britain where he went through military training and served in the Royal Air Force.After the war he returned to Czechoslovakia and in 1946 demobilized. He applied to law school, but the regime after February 1948 made it impossible for him to study. At first he worked for an insurance company, but later he had to earn his living in non-skilled jobs (Tatra Smíchov). He retired in 1981.