Jan Dorúšek

* 1920  †︎ 2020

  • "The Czechoslovak army never made any difference between a Jew, a Gypsy, or other person."

  • "I was released from the prison right when the massive persecution following Heydrich´s assassination was in progress. Gabčík, Opálka, Kubiš...They just arrested me when it happened. The intelligence service in Bratislava knew that I had been with Gabčík when we crossed the border. But they let me go again after about three weeks, after Gabčík and the others shot themselves."

  • „We worked in a forest, felling trees. This was also where we escaped from captivity, me and two of my friends, Standa Sedláček from Náchod and Franta Hes from Pardubice; we used to sleep in the same room. We took axes with us. We spent the first night in some shack, woke up in the morning and there were Germans all around us. They had a military training there. We hid in a stack of straw till the training was over, and then we continued walking. On Sunday morning we met a game-keeper. He was a German. We asked which way the Slovak border was, and he showed us, he said there was a Polish camp there where we could ask for advice. But it was a trap – we are walking along a brook, and suddenly we see four armed Germans. They were about 400 or 500 metres from us, so we turned to the forest and hid near the path. It was Sunday morning, people were going to church, but no one noticed us. Not even those four Germans, and they even had a dog with them. We walked on. It was winter 1941, freezing terribly, and Standa Sedláček´s feet froze so badly that he was not able to walk anymore. He kept urging us to continue with Franta and leave him there. But we refused and remained together. Then we came to a village and walked straight to the first house. Inside there were two women, a mother and daughter, and they got very scared when they saw us with those axes. They gave us some food, potatoes and greaves, and the daughter then left the house. Then the soldiers came: ´Hände hoch!´and they arrested us. We walked for about five kilometres and came to a building where tthey interrogated us for five days. Afterwards we were escorted back to the POW camp in Gleisendorf. Then we were tried by the military court in Linz.“

  • „Even though we were in a POW camp we had news what was happening outside. This is the way it was: there were interpreters in the camp, our interpreters, and the German ones. Our interpreters were in contact with the Germans; and also, not every German was necessarily a bad person, so we were also receiving information about the advances or retreats of the German army as well.“

  • „We agreed on our storied beforehand, therefore we spoke the same things. That we had suffered from hunger, and so on... and that the game-keeper put us up to it. He gave us cigarettes; he even gave us his sandwiches. This is what told we them in our statement, and now imagine, the game-keeper was then also summoned to court, they arrested him for having supported us, telling him that he should have done it in a different manner. We were acquitted, nothing happened to us. For a captive, according to the Geneva Convention, has the right to escape, but he must not harm anyone.”

  • “A friend of mine, his name was Gabčík. We met on the New Year’s Eve of 1938 and this friendship continued even after we crossed the borders. We became friends and Gabčík explained the whole situation to me. The beginnings are difficult everywhere, so I acquiesced it. I knew it wouldn’t be an adventure like riding a horse through the Sahara desert, or something like that. Gabčík was a soldier; he was enduring it better than me. He was in the army and the military drill was simply in his blood. You know, those who are not soldiers, are not so hardened yet.”

  • „I became free in 1942. The Slovaks had their independence. So they asked for my extradition, and therefore I was returned to Slovakia. They put me behind the bars for fighting against the republic and for illegal crossing of borders. My only advantage was that at the time I emigrated I was only eighteen and underage according to the contemporary laws. So my penalty was shorter, they arrested me in Bratislava and sent me to prison there. I got three months, spent these in jail, the prosecutor appealed against this sentence so I got another six months, and then it was over.“

  • “There were so many Russians…but they were separated from us. They did not treat us as roughly as the Russians. They treated them a lot worse. There was malaria, typhus, five, ten, fifteen Russians were dying of typhus every day.”

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Svatý Štěpán, 17.05.2003

    duration: 36:21
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

A friend of mine, his name was Gabcik

Jan Dorúšek
Jan Dorúšek
photo: Archiv - Pamět národa

Jan Dorůšek was born in 1920 in western Slovakia. On New Year’s Eve 1938 he met Jozef Gabčík, with whom he left the country the following year. Both men arrived to France via Poland and there they joined the Foreign Legion, and then continued their service in northern Africa. Their fates separated however, after the war between France and Germany broke out. Mr. Dorůšek joined the Czechoslovak unit in France and fought in the French defence against the German army. He was captured and transported to a prisoners´ camp in Gleisendorf, Austria. Together with friends he attempted to escape, but failed. He was then brought to Slovakia where he spent the rest of his penalty. Afterwards he continued to be regarded as “untrustworthy” due to his stay in the camp and in prison.