Jaroslav Fojt

* 1928

  • In 1950, I started my military service and I was assigned directly to the Hrdlovka mine near Most. Then we moved to Karviná and finally to Orlová. We were chosen to do this hard work because we were not in agreement with the regime. Our cadre assessments were from our villages and they were often signed by people who didn’t agree with us. And in the camps, they treated us as if we were against the regime and everything that was going on in the country – even if it wasn’t true. PTP were formed by people who had their opinion which they preserved until the end and I think that mostly people with certain culture got in there. And that is why our superiors treated us as some third-grades. The whole purpose of PTP was to remake the people according to their ideas. They wanted to achieve that through work, but they didn’t succeed. And what effect did it have on yourself? I am dealing with it for my whole life, because no one ever told me why we were there. We were rated as category “E” as people who were against the state. But everyone who was thinking at least a little bit couldn’t agree with what was happening at the time.

  • Švandrlík invented humorous things in his Černí baroni (Black Barons), so the readers think: What did they miss? It is true that we were earning something, but the army had a deal with the mines and billed them for our work. Our salary was cut by 90 crowns daily for accommodation, clothing and so on. So we effectively paid everything for ourselves. If you earned five thousand crowns, they put half of it on accommodation and divided the other half: they put one half to your savings book and only the last bit went to you. So we actually got just a couple of crowns. And the money we saved was devalued by the currency reform. But how could you enjoy yourself with the money? Of course, we would go to Ostrava for parties and we lived as young boys. The bottom line is, we were gaining some money, we were employed, but there was no freedom! Because they really treated us horribly.

  • The Communists took all of our fields and gave it to their people. When I came there, I couldn’t even go to our garden and pick some plums. I was already an enemy of the people. When I joined the army in Chomutov, they cut my hair and sent me to Cheb, where they classified us. Then they sen me to Hrdlovka near Most to mines. Until then, I never saw a mine before. And all of a sudden, we started going down the shaft. In 1950, it was in Rubín; then, in the middle of the year, we moved to Karviná on Ostrava mine. We had to work in the shafts as PTP was divided into light and heavy. The light ones worked in construction. We worked in mines and quarries. I can tell you that it created a really strong bond among us and we meet until today. There used to be sixty thousands of us and now we are only five thousand, but we still meet. It all changed when general Čepička and other came in power and wanted to break these people. We didn’t have a lot of chances to revolt as we were constantly working shifts; in the morning, in the afternoon, during the night, for two and a half years. The guards treated us terribly, simply as if we were the enemies of the people. Usually there were old commanders or those who were totally uneducated. In these years, we created firm bonds among us. There was no bullying as it happens in military service. We helped each other. Now it was only important to get out of there. Among others, there was also count Sternberg and many other great people who were fired from universities, and then mostly farmers (kulaks). We worked there in the shafts that were too dangerous or not prosperous enough and regular miners would not work there, so they forced us to do the job. And we were learning by practicing. Often, we were even covered up down there.

  • Just imagine how we felt when the twenty of us, who had never been to a mine before, were now supposed to spend three years there. They wanted to break these people, but they didn’t. For example Sternberg was there for five years. He was somewhat older than the rest of us, so he managed to communicate with them, and maybe that's why he worked the excavator on the surface. His father worked as the janitor at their castle and people accepted him. Once, there was a fire in the castle that used to belong to Sternbergs and so he wanted to go home to have a look at it. He came to the commander and said he needs a vacation: “Sternberg to Šternberk”. The officer couldn’t understand it at all. So such debates were taking place there as the guards were really stupid.

  • I was in one bedroom with count Sternberg. He was the oldest one of his siblings who stayed, while the rest went abroad. Even though he couldn’t control the property, he was supposed to look after it somehow. His father was a castle manager and people liked the whole family. Sternberg was such a clean-cut man that when we were in trouble, he always managed to resolve it. Even some of the officers respected him. But the account in Švandrlík's film stating that he was in a quarry is not true. He always worked with an excavator on the surface of the shaft. When he was released after five years, he couldn’t find a job because nobody wanted to hire him. His friends helped him to get o job as a stage technician in the Karlín theater. Now people finally recognize him, he was awarded with medal from Klaus. Now he only has some trouble with handling the property, he has to hire people for that. He was a really great guy.

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    Horní Počernice, 02.07.2012

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They robbed me of what my life should have been!

In uniform
In uniform
photo: Rodinné album

Jaroslav Fojt grew up with two brothers and their parents in Vrané nad Vltavou, where his family owned a farm. But after the Communist coup, all their land was confiscated and went directly to the newly created JZD (farming cooperatives). Mr. Fojt’s family suddenly became enemies of the people. His parents had to move to Kladno, then to Nouzov, then Kyšice, until finally they could return to their home as subtenants at old age. Jaroslav Fojt himself moved out of the native house already in 1943 to start a practical training. Nevertheless, in 1950, as a son of a kulak, he was sent for reeducation to the PTP (army’s Auxiliary Technical Battalions, also known as the Black Barons). He changed location several times, and spent most of the time working in the Karviná area. Working in the mines was extremely hard. They were constantly being exhausted by the hard and long work as well as by the bad treatment from the guards who were systematically trying to break them. They worked in those shafts that were already so dangerous or unprofitable that normal miners refused to work there.  They had to learn navigating the environment on the job. Of course, as a result, many accidents and injuries happened while on the job. They robbed me of what my life should have been! They were even often covered up down there. Mr. Fojt refuses opinions that downplay the hardships they went through. He points out that although they earned something, they could not use almost anything out of it in the end. They had to give half of their salary away for the accommodation and food during their work in the mines. The second half was once again divided into two as one part was saved in a savings book and only the last portion was given to them. They lost all their savings in the currency reform in 1953. Because the government was afraid of a revolt, the army had them escorted to their workplaces by units armed with machine guns. But no revolt took place as they simply didn’t have any energy left for it after years of extremely exhausting shifts and bullying from the guards. Jaroslav Fojt shared his room with count Zdeněk Sternberg, among others. Mr. Fojt has been dealing with his service in the PTP all his life, for himself as well as with other colleagues from the military service. The Communists never officially told him why he was classified as an enemy of the state. They robbed me of what my life should have been!