Milan Gabčan

* 1932  

  • “By coincidence, a secret transmitter appeared. There was a house search the very same night. They checked everything. But we had burnt everything before, every single piece of paper. We had expected this. A week passed. Meanwhile I carried all the firearms I had at home to the factory, and I concealed them in a fusebox under the ceiling. I had nothing more at home. But they were lucky. My boss, a certain Pepek Hančík, learnt about it... I hated him for that, but there was probably no need for it. When we met afterward, he wanted to shake hands with me, but I told him: ´I don’t want to see you.´ But he didn’t deserve it. Today I know it was not his fault because they forced him to do it. It took about a week, and after a week he came to me and said: ´Milan, you’ll be arrested. They will come for you at night.´ I issued orders. At that time I already knew that I was not able to say anything inside, because the room was bugged. I already knew about it because we had learned it all in Svazarm. We also learned how to get out of handcuffs. I could do it, but only if I was manacled in the front. I was not able to do it if my hands were handcuffed behind my back. But I could do it with my hands in the front without a problem – at first I found a match or something like that...”

  • “A warden came and asked us: ´Boys are you hungry? ´ Of course we were hungry. ´So if you want to eat you have to work first.´ He took both of us and we walked about one or two hundred metres. Each of us was issued a pitchfork. The further we were from the building, the more the stench could be smelled. We came to a huge heap that was moving. The entire heap was moving. There were bones which were being gathered from the camp, from the canteen or what not. We had to load a truckload with these bones. I didn’t mind when worms were falling all over me. You cannot even imagine it. But for engineer Trojan it was far worse. The poor guy began vomiting, and so on..."

  • “My father talked to the butcher at night. ´We shall slaughter one pig.´ We had pigs in the barn, each weighting forty or fifty kilos. There were nineteen or twenty of them. We also had a little house attached to the barn, and there was a small cellar under it. We kept other twenty-kilo pigs in that cellar illegally. The cellar was sealed with straw so that nobody would be able to hear them. But the straw was coming out, and the roof was in a bad shape, too, and so we took one of these pigs and placed them among the bigger ones. That was because there were those fools from the district committee who were making daily rounds and checking us. Do you know what pollard is? That’s the waste from wheat, which remains when you make flour. They came and it was all flour to them, and they accused us profiteering and confiscated everything. They loved to confiscate things. Mr. Chleboun, the butcher, slaughtered the pig at night. We added one pig to the pigs we kept upstairs so that the headcount would be the same – there had to be records for everything. We killed the pig and processed it. We did it in a stone chamber, which formed a part of the cellar. But we had to make sure the smell of the pig slaughter would not leak out. What we did was open the cesspool, and we took a special sort of manure in a bucket and we poured it over the yard, sothis smell would cover any smells coming from the pig slaughter. We had to process it all in just one night. We had to process the lard, greaves, meat, and so on, in order to be able to give it to these German workers the next day.”

  • “They covered my eyes with a leather eye mask and transported me to Orlí Street in Brno. I forgot to mention that I was fully proficient in the Morse code. I arrived to Orlí and immediately that evening I was sending messages. You can imagine how it was, you can try it for yourself at home. One scratch signified a dash, and a knock stood for a dot. You could hear it perfectly at night. We had to be careful, because some of the wardens noticed it. I came there and I began sending messages the very same evening. I used our password ´Lazy sa pohli.´ I immediately received a message that all of us were there. They had been arrested on the 19th, on St. Joseph’s Day in 1953, right after they had attended the commemoration ceremony for President Gottwald in the town square.”

  • “I was marked as an escapee, and this reputation followed me. I didn’t make an attempt at escape while in Jáchymov, but I had escaped when they came to arrest me and take me to court. My penalty for that was this: I was issued overalls which had a green target painted on the back. I had to wear it for two or three months, I think it was longer. Every Saturday at ten o’clock, when the curfew was announced, I had to go to the sniper zone. The sniper zone was a guarded space between the watchtowers with machine guns; I think it was called the inner guard. They would always handcuff us to the barb wire. We were positioned there in the sniper zone, with a distance of twenty metres between us. In the morning before 5 a. m. the warden would gather us and take us either to work , according to the shift schedule.”

  • “When we came home, Mom asked us: ´Where are your trousers? ´ I replied: ´We threw them under the bed.´ Throwing our trousers under the bed was a trick we played on her. You know why? Because we had a hand grenade in every pocket. Mom was shocked when she found it. I had to carry it to the wood-shed immediately and hide it there. But that was nothing compared to what happened afterwards. When we were boys, we sacked a German car full of ammunition. The army arrived and they parked their car and had a rest before moving on to the eastern front. We saw that the guards had lit cigarettes and were chatting with each other. At this moment we broke through the planks of the fence and took whatever we could carry under our shirts and jackets, and carried them to our wood-shed. I told my cousin about it, and he took it all with him; allegedly he gave it all to the guerrillas.”

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Choceň, 08.06.2011

    (audio)
    duration: 05:48:50
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

Even if they had been shooting us, we would have persisted at all costs - we longed for the revenge that much

Young Milan Gabčan
Young Milan Gabčan
photo: archiv pamětníka

Milan Gabčan was born in 1932 in the village of Vydrná in Slovakia. After the war he moved with his parents and brother to the village of Litrbachy (Čistá) near Litomyšl, where they were allotted a farm. After the communist coup in 1948 and the subsequent collectivization, his father decided to emigrate to the West. At first he intended to check the conditions at the border, but he was caught by the border patrol and imprisoned. He spent several months in the prison at Uherské Hradiště. The farm, meanwhile, was confiscated by the state and the family was forcibly evicted. Milan Gabčan and his brother Stanislav sought revenge against the state and they decided on carrying out active resistance. A group of young men formed in Svitavy, and they hoped to move their passive neighbours into action by disseminating pamphlets. They printed around 1200 pamphlets discussing Masaryk’s humanism, which they spread all over the town.At the same time they were also readying themselves for active armed resistance. The secret police eventually arrested all of them save Milan Gabčan, who managed to escape to Slovakia. He hid there in a dugout near the village of Mostiště. The secret police eventually found him after somebody had betrayed him. The Regional Court in Brno sentenced him to 3 years of imprisonment. He spent nearly two years in the uranium ore mines in the Jáchymov region. He adamantly refused to obey and therefore had many conflicts with the wardens. He was sent to a correction cell several times, and his head was shaved all the time. Even after his release in April 1955, he was still under secret police surveillance, and he was summoned for interrogation several times. He presently lives in Choceň.