Jozef Gula

* 1921  

  • "And on the third day we started offensive operations again and so we kept moving forward and there happened such a thing that one day the Germans captured three of our soldiers. And the next day, as we advanced, these soldiers were hanging on a tree. They had pierced eyes, cut out ears, a noses, and a hanged on a rope. That was at Dukla. And the same thing happened in Slovakia near Banská Štiavnica, the deputy commander of the machine gun company, lieutenant Borš (?) and the commander of the machine gun platoon of the sergeant (?). The same way, as it was in the first and third brigades, but in our country it was so that we were not as prisoners, but as traitors and therefore the Germans did such things with us. So we proceeded to Dukla and then the next day came the second battalion and then Marshal Konev, commander of the 1st Ukrainian Front, was satisfied with the results of the brigade and the brigade commander was given the task and it was completed on September 11, 1944. After completing the task, the Soviet division began to take over this zone and thus we prepared very favourable conditions for an attack on the flank of the Germans at Dukla. And so it happened that the Soviet troops and our brigades conquered Dukla on the basis of this operation."

  • "And in the morning, early in the morning, we were attacked by a strong German unit and we had to leave the area again. The Germans captured twenty-two of our soldiers there. They lined them up and shot them. So we, our group marched in the direction of Mýto pod Ďumbierom. And as we walked, again in the crowd… in those mountains and we came to the road Mýto pod Ďumbierom and Vrch, that is the hill Ďumbier, 2004 meters. As we came to that path, we were attacked by the Germans. And me and another soldier, a former shoemaker, after the war he worked as an executive ensigned to lieutenant Olšan, a shoemaker, Palko shoemaker. And we got to the side where the Germans were. The Germans did not see us and we were about sixty meters from the road, so we lay down in the snow, there were still trees among them, then there was cypress. And we lay there for about three hours and the Germans - we were lucky to be standing with our backs to us as we came from that side. Well, probably the Germans stayed, had fun there and were not turned to the side from which we came. And then they left and we didn't know if they were there or not, and then we crossed the road. Palko couldn't, he was exhausted. We got about two hundred meters into the forest and I started a fire that burned there until morning and Palko got out of it. We started the march in the morning and before about lunch we reached the edge of the forest. There was a felled forest, about a kilometer long and 300 meters wide, and on the other side was a wooden hut. And smoke came out of the chimney. But we didn't know who was there; either guerrillas or Germans. But what was left for us…, we were hungry, we did not eat for three days, so we set off. We made a deal, he had a gun, I had a submachine gun. And I told him, 'Thumb, let's get to that house, you open the door quickly and I'll jump in and start firing.'"

  • "And the next morning we were attacked by the Germans. The Germans did not dare and the shooting lasted about two hours and the Germans did not advance and we did not retreat. The Germans then returned, but in the afternoon, at about three or half past three, our group was leaving the area in the direction of the southern side of the Low Tatras. And in the early evening, the guerrilla commander invited us to rest in the dugouts. They had perfect ones there, they had stoves there, all well-equipped. So we sat there all night in the heat and the next day we set off, through Chabenec to Krpáčová. So around nine o'clock a huge blizzard began that was no one could see further than three meters. It was something terrible. He who deviated from the crowd just died, so he could not endure. We did it so that everyone in the crowd, as we marched, held on to the other's cloak in order not to deviate. Well, it was something terrible… who didn't experience it, it's so hard… and in the afternoon it stopped and as we were walking in the forest near Chabence, there was a civilian sitting there. He wore high boots, a black coat, a peaked cap, and two soldiers. And that one soldier told us that he was MP Ján Šverma and he was dying."

  • "In September, we started moving one hundred and twenty-eight kilometres, without resting, in 48 hours. And so the brigade began this move, because we did not have any cars available. The brigade had only a few cars, and those cars were transporting airborne material to bunkers in Przemysl. The second battalion remained there and it was there for three days. So we carried the weapons normally on our backs without rest. The mortar and mortar heads are twenty kilograms… Then there were heavy machine guns, then there were anti-tank rifles, all soldiers carried them. ..it was not… and they were assigned to us by the brigade commander… I do not know the battery or section… no, anti-tank guns calibre 45mm and the guns were pulled by soldiers on ropes, into space. We came to a village in the evening, it was the 9th night, and we stayed in those buildings, but no soldier was allowed to leave the buildings at night so that the Germans would not know about us. Because the German defence was a little over two kilometres. And there we were and when it got dark the next day, we were there from 10th to 11th September. We took a defensive starting position and the next morning, on 11th September the attack started."

  • "And when the uprising took place in Slovakia, on August 29, it was the start of the brigade, so we expected to be sent to help the Slovak National Uprising, as promised to us by the Soviet Union. So we waited, we also had weapons. I served in the mortar company… so we waited there and the removal of our brigade was carried out… or… it began only on September 6. Direction to Poland, to the town of Przemysl, where the brigade was to concentrate and from this area was to make an air transfer of the brigade to Slovakia to the airport of Tri duby. We arrived in Przemysl on the evening of September 8 and the situation there was bad. We thought that we would be transferred to Slovakia by air, it did not happen, because on September 8, the Carpathian-Dukelian operation was launched. And because our command did not know what it looked like at home and we ended up very badly on the Dukel Pass, so that the Germans had already prepared their defences in advance after the disarmament of two Slovak divisions, whose task was to occupy the Dukel and Lupkov Passes and thus enable the Soviet army and our armies crossing and in four, five days to get to Presov. That just didn't happen, because the two Slovak divisions were disarmed, the Germans occupied both the Lupkov and Dukel passes, fought their defences, and then the impact of the Soviet army and our brigade was bad."

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    Praha, 22.07.2003

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I was a member of the 2nd Czechoslovak Independent Parachute Brigade

Jozef Gula (en)
Jozef Gula (en)
photo: archiv pamětníka

Jozef Gula was born on August 23, 1921 in the village of Orešany in Slovakia. In October 1942 he received a call-up order and began basic military service. He was selected to study a non-commissioned officer school and after graduating he was transferred to the Eastern Front in Crimea, where soldiers of the then Slovak state were to fight alongside Nazi Germany. At the end of 1943, the entire Slovak division, to which Jozef Gula belonged, voluntarily gave up to the Soviets. In the prisoner of war camp in Usmani, Ukraine, Slovak soldiers applied for admission to the Czechoslovak foreign army. They received approval and on January 19, 1944, the 2nd Czechoslovak Independent Parachute Brigade was officially established. It numbered almost 3,000 men and it was the first airborne unit in the history of the Czechoslovak army, its command was taken over by Col. Vladimír Přikryl. They underwent accelerated but very intensive parachute training and were subsequently to be sent by air to help the Slovak national uprising. But due to the unfavourable development at the Dukelsky Pass, which the Red Army was to go through together with the Czechoslovak foreign army to help the Slovak uprising, the units of the 2nd Czechoslovak brigades were first transferred to Dukla. Jozef Gula became the commander of one of the mortar platoons. In extremely difficult battles, the witness, like most of his comrades-in-arms, experienced his first combat deployment. Nevertheless, soldiers from the 2nd Czechoslovak Parachute Brigade survived at Dukla. After a week, the brigade withdrew from the fighting at Dukla and its soldiers were gradually sent by air directly to the centre of the Slovak uprising. Here, too, the situation did not develop as expected, the insurgent army retreated before the Germans, and even the much-anticipated and self-sacrificing help of the Czechoslovak para-brigade units could not prevent the defeat of the Slovak uprising. Commander-in-Chief of the uprising, general Rudolf Viest, resigned from the leadership, after which the army gradually disintegrated. The remaining units had to switch to guerrilla warfare. Jozef Gula spent four winter months in the Low Tatras, without winter equipment, without food, without medical assistance, with running out of ammunition, under constant pressure better materially equipped and trained for guerrilla warfare German troops. Dozens of soldiers died during the crossing of the mountain ridge near Chabence. Jozef Gula witnessed the journalist and communist MP Ján Šverma dying. He experienced the atrocities committed by the Germans on his captured comrades-in-arms. After crossing the Low Tatras, he re-joined his brigade and the end of the war caught him in Žilina. After the war he graduated from the military academy in Hranice. After graduating, he was assigned to the artillery. He became one of the commanders of the heavy artillery division in Jičín, where he remained until leaving for civilian life. He ended his military career with the rank of colonel. For his participation in the fighting of World War II, he received the status of a war veteran.