Vladimír Dvořák

* 1943

  • "You get a sense of what they [the displaced Germans, or those who stayed] feel or think. Because they can't forget that people with backpacks had to leave here. On the one hand, I believe them that it's come down to collective guilt. Some of them didn't deserve it. What was it like for those in the mountains somewhere herding cattle after some war somewhere. They were worried about having something to put on their plates, to feed their families somehow, to get some milk and some dairy products."

  • "I didn't catch them here, I was in the hospital. I was just with my ears. My wife suffered the most. She was scared, the boy was just three years old, there were planes flying over us, it was always buzzing. But for them to come directly to Rokytnice, no. They were approaching Prague, everything was moving down. But I had co-workers who paid the price: in Harrachov, in the glassworks, someone set off a siren when the tanks arrived. That was nothing for the Communists, and the director had to leave on the spot. His son-in-law, Vasek Kratochvíl, whose mother came from Tříč and they lived in Rokytnice, then married the daughter of the director, Stříbrný. They both had to leave on the spot. They couldn't find work except in the mines. So they came to the mines and I had such co-workers. While still in the mines, the young son of the director, who was there for a summer job, because he was studying mechanical engineering in Jablonec, heard a siren in the mines, so he also turned on the siren in the mines. It's at the end of Harrachov under the waterfalls. So the director also had to leave on the spot."

  • "I was also lucky that the people in Tříč took me in. At that time it was after the war, there was nothing to buy. The peasants helped out with eggs or other foodstufs, whatever they could, because then everything was on tickets. My parents, in turn, had access to these things thanks to me, because the neighbours also tried to pull me out of sickness and malnutrition, which was good. I can say I was lucky to have neighbors in that respect."

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    v Rokytnici nad Jizerou, 07.05.2022

    duration: 01:58:26
  • 2

    v Rokytnici nad Jizerou, 23.08.2022

    duration: 01:32:00
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

My mother didn’t survive the war, my adoptive parents saved my life

Vladimír Dvořák when he worked in the Harrachov mine
Vladimír Dvořák when he worked in the Harrachov mine
photo: archiv pamětníka

Vladimír Dvořák was born as Vladimír Kuzmenko on 5 February 1943 in Berlin to Ukrainian Halya Kuzmenko. She was a forced laborer in Germany during World War II. After the Allied bombing in 1943, young Vladimir and his mother were moved to Rokytnice nad Jizerou in the Giant Mountains, where a labor camp was established. Due to the harsh conditions, Halja fell ill with tuberculosis and died in the hospital in Jablonec nad Jizerou on April 9, 1945. The memoirist witness was in danger of his life. With the help of doctors and neighbours, he was saved by his adoptive parents, Mr. and Mrs. Dvořák. They waged a long struggle for his adoption and acquisition of Czechoslovak citizenship. He grew up in Tříč. Vladimír Dvořák trained as a moulder, worked in a foundry and, despite his severely damaged hearing, also in a mine in Harrachov. He married in 1965, has two sons and lives in Rokytnice nad Jizerou. He was widowed in December 2021.