Miroslav Chromý

* 1922

  • “It was sometime in the middle of December, we came out of the factory, and the sky was all red, and everything was quivering. We thought to ourselves, Lord God, the battlefront has already crossed the Oder, we will have to flee. So we three friends agreed–one welded, so he welded sledges–that we would run away home across the Krkonoše mountains. We were afraid to go by train because they could catch us there. After the war, I found out that the other guys left by train and that no one checked anything because there was terrible chaos everywhere – the army and thousands of civilians. We had the route planned. In the morning, we set off on the road to the Krkonoše Mountains towards Kamenná Gora. We were pulling the sledges with suitcases tied to them, each of us had a loaf of bread, and I also had the marmalade my mother had sent me. We walked by the side of the road because the whole road was full of wagons. The Germans were fleeing from Poland, Ukraine, and who knows where. They went to Kamenná Gora and then turned to Jelení Gora and further to the west. They didn't have sledges, they had everything on wagons with sheds, so they had to harness the horses under the hills for them to lift it up. So they had to borrow the horses, one after the other, and go back and forth. And we passed them – it was about fifty kilometres to Kamenná Gora, so we made it in two days. We slept on the road. We stayed in Kamenná Gora all day, we rested and ate, and the guys gave us what they could. There was a small concentration camp of around twenty guys, but I don't even know what they were doing there. We spent a day and night there, and then at four o'clock in the morning, we rode to the bottom of the Krkonoše Mountains. We left our sledges there, grabbed our suitcases, and went into the forest. At first, it was low, just a thicket, and the snow was above our knees, we were digging. What a road! We kept following the moon. It was our guide because we didn't know the way or where we were going to end up. But we knew that once we crossed the Krkonoše Mountains, we would be home. But we didn't realize that we wouldn't be home, that the Sudetenland was there and that we had to walk another fifty kilometres before reaching the Protectorate. We didn't even understand that as boys.”

  • “I don't remember what year it was, probably 1953, at the time of the founding of agricultural cooperatives. I was already the head of production, but they dragged me out, saying there was a more important political function for me to do. I had to go to Čejkovice and start founding a cooperative. When I arrived there, I could hardly tell the wheat from the rye, but I was the one founding the cooperative. The chairman there was Mr Drbohlav, and the secretary was this dirty elderly man, and I used to go back and forth between them. I didn't know what to do there. So I always borrowed a horse from chairman Drbohlav, he harnessed the horse for me, and I took a hay turner, for example, and rode around the meadows turning the hay. We mowed and put it into stacks by hand back then. Combine harvesters didn't exist yet, there were only mowers. So I worked there as a farmer to pass the time. There was nothing else to do, there was a pub, but I was never a pub person - to just sit somewhere. So I helped them, and the chairman Drbohlav was a nice gentleman, and in the fall, they told me that they would give me a pig. But I had nothing to feed him, so they also gave me several bags of corn for him. I brought the pig to Bílsko to live at my grandmother’s, we raised him there and let him grow up. He had a good life there.”

  • “Suddenly, I see Zdeněk coming towards me, so I ask him, ‘Zdeněk, what are you doing here? I wouldn't have expected that we would meet after so many years.’ And he answered me that he was coming from Valdice, from the prison. So we went to my house, I made him coffee, and we had a snack. I asked about how he got into prison - what did he do? And he told me that he was the general director of Northern Bohemian Coal Mines– but then there were various checks during the Slánský trial, who was accused of high treason and sentenced to death. So he appealed, and the next court reduced his sentence to life imprisonment. He appealed again. It dragged on for several years, and in the end, his sentence was reduced to twenty years. And by then, he has served half of his sentence, so they let him go. He went home to see his wife in Lebáň, where she lived with her parents. I asked what he was going to do, but he wasn't worried about not getting a job - he was a university student and could speak German. After three months, Zdeněk showed up again. And when I asked what he was doing, he answered that he was working at Textilana in Liberec as a cultural executive and that he was going to Vysoké Mýto to pick up a bus they bought so they could go on trips.”

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Hradec Králové, 05.08.2022

    duration: 02:01:55
    media recorded in project Příběhy regionu - HRK REG ED
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

Valila se na ně fronta. Dali kufry na sáňky a přes Krkonoše utekli domů

Miroslav Chromý in his childhood, the first half of the 1930s
Miroslav Chromý in his childhood, the first half of the 1930s
photo: witness archive

Miroslav Chromý was born on 1 November 1922 in Třešť. He trained as a carpenter and left for work in Prague. During the war, he was forced to join the factory in Wrocław, where he worked as a turner. In December 1944, when the battlefront was approaching, he escaped with two of his friends to the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. He spent the last days of the war in Prague but did not participate in the street fights. He then got married and moved with his wife to Martiněves near Děčín, where their daughter was born in 1947. Due to his wife’s poor health, they moved to Jičín, and from 1952, he worked there as a production manager at Dřevotvar Jičín. Their second child, a son, was born in their new home. Not long after the war, he joined the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (KSČ), which allowed him a more straightforward career advancement. Still, as a member of the Party, he had to help establish Unified agricultural cooperatives (JZD) during the 1950s. He worked in Dřevotvar Jičín until his retirement. After 1989, the company broke up into smaller companies and partially disappeared. In 2022, Miroslav Chromý lived in Jičín, where he celebrated his hundredth birthday in the autumn of that year.