Bohumil Filípek

* 1922  †︎ 2015

  • “The shot was already fired, and as they say in Russian, ´vozklapenije vovzduchá,´ or compressed air. The hatch on the tank opened, and the tankist’s cap had a hole shot through it. Both his thighs were also shot through, but we could see his bones were there, because he was standing on his legs. This happened in a split second. Without his cap, he fell out from the tank, hair on his head was singed and he was standing next to the tank, because the pressure of air had thrown him out of the tank. There was a fourth tank behind us, and the commander shouted: ´Zavadi mašinu, sledujuščoj v pirjot.´ Follow him with the other tank and advance.”

  • “I thought: ´God, I hope it won’t explode.´ All of a sudden I saw that the grenade made a sound like pschik , pschik, pschik, two or three times, and it went off. But nothing happened to me, only here, the skin on my breast was burnt, because I had my shirt unbuttoned as I ran out of the hospital. It tore off the legs of the woman who was leaning on me. There was some hole, and the orderly was crouching in the corner of that hole, some shell splinter scratched him on his arm twice, I don’t know how it happened, but it was not serious.”

  • “It was a two or three kilometre distance, and there was a small stream on the other side of the road. They were still firing at us from that machine-gun nest. They had these round bullets, which fly low above the terrain. Just fifteen or twenty centimetres above the ground. They may shoot downward, but the bullet will follow the slope and still fly low above the ground. It means that if you are lying in the field, this bullet would hit your head. At nights it looked like an anthill. Apart from that, the Germans had so-called parachute rockets. They fired them and they were able to shine for fifteen or twenty minutes. You would be able to pick needles from the ground, you could see everything. They could see anything. Even a mouse. God knows, they did make a fine light. Thus there was no chance at night, either.”

  • “Well, at first I was born. Then I attended school when I reached the appropriate age. After school I did my vocational training; four grades, the elementary school. When I was fourteen and a half, I left home and went to train to become a baker and confectioner. I was fourteen and a half. At that time, places were scarce, and you needed some push in order to get in. I did get in. Luckily, the boss was some distant relative of my mother’s and thanks to her I was admitted. I have completed the training, but about a month before I was to get my certificate, the Russians came to liberate us in 1939.”

  • “He ordered: ´Go out to the corridor.´ All of us. I might have given the knife to someone else, to one of these forty other people. ´Make a row along the wall…´ We stood in a row. ´…take your clothes off.´ We undressed. They checked all our clothes, looked into our asses, armpits, everywhere. The knife was not there. They were doing this to us for two days, day and night. It was horrible. Anyway, the knife was not found. I said that the knife must have gotten lost when we had been riding the Gaz car on that bumpy road. The knife must have gotten loose somewhere there. What can I do, I don’t have the knife with me anymore. And so they left us alone. They probably realized that what I said could have been true. What to do with such a small knife?”

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Žatec, 22.09.2010

    duration: 02:25:16
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
  • 2

    Žatec, 02.08.2012

    duration: 03:33:34
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

You want Czechoslovakia? Go then!

Bohumil Filípek in his uniform
Bohumil Filípek in his uniform
photo: sbírka Bohumila Filípka

Lieutenant colonel in retirement Bohumil Filípek was born October 22, 1922 in the village of České Noviny in Volhynia. After completing five grades of elementary school, he began learning the confectioner’s trade. His life changed profoundly after the communist regime arrived to Volhynia in 1939. At that time he was working in the town of Dubno, but hunger and poverty made him return to his native village. He was looking forward to his mother’s cooking. This however proved fateful to him, because he was arrested for sabotaging work and sentenced to three months of imprisonment. He served his sentence in jail in Dubno. After the arrival of the German army in 1941 he was employed in his native village and he thus evaded conscripted labour. In the summer of 1943 he underwent treatment in the hospital in Malín. A tragic event took place in the village of Český Malín on July 13, 1943 when the Nazis burnt down the village and murdered its inhabitants. The tragedy sparked hatred against the Nazis lasting till the present day. Bohumil and others hid in the hospital’s basement, which is how they survived the tragedy. When the atrocities in the village were over, he ran to České Noviny. After the coming of the Soviet Army in 1944 Bohumil Filípek applied to join the 1st Czechoslovak Army Corps which was being formed, and as a tank desant trooper he took part in the Carpathian-Dukla operation. In one moment, he and a few other soldiers found themselves in the German rear and they had to fight their way back in order to reach their lines. During subsequent advancement Filípek was wounded in a German air raid and he underwent treatment in Lvov and did not return to combat. After the war he married in Volhynia and in 1947 re-emigrated to Czechoslovakia. In his new home he was working as an independent farmer, baker, and as a driver for a bakery and confectionery. He lived in Žatec, passed away on February, 19th, 2015.