I survived because all the time I believed that God knows about me
Jan Gomola was born on 20 March, 1916 in a village of Dolní Lomná in Těšínsko, and comes from a very poor religious family. Although the family was officially Polish, its members actually felt Czech. When the Czech school was founded in Dolní Lomná in 1922, Jan became its first pupil. In 1938 Těšínsko was occupied by the Pols and he went to seek work in Berlin. He made his living as an interior painter. He got his working permit, based on which he was sent to the German army. As its member he travelled through France, then was sent to the Russian front. He took part in the Moscow march, survived many battles and his artillery unit got all the way to the sea of Azov. He spent four years at the Russian front and only had four holidays during that period, when he could go back home for three weeks. During retreating from the Red army in 1945, when his unit went past his home land, he secretly came back home. For fighting in Wehrmacht he encountered much hate and bullying after return home. After war he lived in a deep poverty and almost marginalized. In 1950s he moved to Ostrava and until pension he worked as a miner. He wrote a book on his travels through the Soviet Union called I found Katyn. It was only after war, when he found out that as a soldier he got to the mass graveyard of executed Polish officers in Katyn and saw their remains there, yet didn’t know, what kind of place that was. In 2016 he celebrated his hundredth birthday and lived in a retirement home in Ostrava-Zabreh.