Colonel (ret.) Jozef Haríň

* 1921  †︎ 2007

  • “I was curious what the Red Army was like. I was standing by the railroad and suddenly... [Jozef Haríň makes a sound which probably ought to imitate the noise of an aircraft - auth.’s note] I look up, I lay down and as I was looking through the binoculars Gornický says: ‘Don’t shoot, don’t shoot, we are partisans.’ He came to us: ‘Partisans.’ The Red Army came there. Not that magnificent; it was a combat army doing reconnaissance.”

  • “The base where we did the training was an American base, but there were English. Close to us [difficult to understand – probably ‘Tito’s soldiers,’ meaning partisans of Josip Tito – auth.’s note] were undergoing their training as well. There were about two thousand of them. They played football while the Italians were already divided and fighting against Mussolini. They were on our side and those who were on the German side fought along the Germans against their own Italians and against Americans.”

  • “Karol then asked: ‘What shall we do now?’ Karol sat down, poor guy, by a stream on the Bečva River, and I came to him. He was totally desperate. I told him: ‘Karol, there is one thing we can do. We can go to Slovakia and find some partisan group there, or find a partisan group in Moravia.’ He then said: ‘Let’s go to Slovakia then.’ But Karol knew that with the penetration wound [in his shoulder] he would not be able to walk far.”

  • “Grajzel jumped first, Karol went second and I was the last. I could see both of them when I jumped out, because it goes very quickly. You sit on the hole and your legs are dangling down. [The bags are behind you.] Yes. And when you see a red light, it means get ready, and green light is Go. In English. You jump. You just hang there. It’s only a moment. It is very quick. We were taught this in the paratrooper school, in order to make the dispersion [of the paratroopers] as low as possible.”

  • “My face was scratched, too. When you land on a hard surface, this happens. Karol had more bruises than I, on his face and on his hand. He fell on some branches. Branches usually break and you get some scratches. Grajzel apparently did not fall on trees, he landed well. He could have stayed with us. Perhaps the group’s outcome would have been different then.”

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    Štiavnička, 13.05.1998

    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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You have to live it, otherwise you will not believe it

Jozef Haríň
Jozef Haríň
photo: archiv Martina Reichla

Colonel in retirement Jozef Haríň was born October 11, 1921 in Ružomberok in the then Czechoslovakia. He attended an elementary school, apprenticed as a car repairman and then he went to work in the textile factory in Rybárpole near Ružomberok. On September 10, 1941 he was drafted to the Slovak army where he served in the 1st motorized battalion in Nitra, and after passing a course for truck drivers he was assigned to the 11th motorized battalion in Banská Bystrica. From January to July 1942 he served as a stock keeper of spare parts in the motorized battalion in Prešov. In July 1943 he was transferred to the Slovak security division in Minsk in Belarus, but already in September 1943 he was ordered to return and he was sent to Italy to the operating technical division, where he served as a truck driver in a logistics store. In March 1944 he defected to the American army near Monte Cassino in central Italy and he was interned in an assembly camp near Naples. From April to June 1944 he stayed in the Czechoslovak mission in Bari in southern Italy where his superiors decided to assign him to a special task force. For Jozef this decision meant that he became a candidate for paratrooper deployment to the Protectorate Bohemia and Moravia. From June to July 1944 he went through paratrooper and combat training in the English-American camp in Brindisi in southern Italy and from July to December 1944 he was trained in intelligence operations and cryptography in the Czechoslovak military mission in Bari. He was assigned to the paratrooper group Embassy and on December 21, 1944 he was parachuted to the Protectorate together with Karol Mladý and Jan Grajzel. They were supposed to land near the village Břez near Kroměříž, but by mistake they were dropped near the village Prostějovičky by Prostějov. Jozef Haríň managed to get reunited with Karol Mladý after landing, but they lost contact with Jan Grajzel who carried all necessary material, including the radio station. Karol Mladý and Jozef Haríň therefore decided to walk to the village Břez and they planned to contact the people living in the first contact address they were given. However, they did not succeed and their attempt to contact the second address in Horní Bečva near Rožnov pod Radhoštěm failed as well. The paratroopers thus decided that they would move to Slovakia. Karol Mladý, who had already been wounded in another gun-fight, did not survive a gun battle with Gestapo members on the Moravian-Slovak border. Jozef Haríň escaped, but he sustained a penetration wound in his leg. Thanks to the help of a local game keeper he eventually managed to get to Soviet partisans and he joined the partisan group Rodina (‘Family’) that operated in the area between Velká Bytča and Makov in western Slovakia. At first he served as the unit’s commander and later also as the commander of a reconnaissance company. Later they joined the 1st Czechoslovak army corps; Jozef served in the corps from May to June 1945 and he went with them all the way to Prague. After the war he completed a school for officers and in 1946 he left the army. He returned to Ružomberok and he did a clerical job. He died on June 22, 2007 in the Slovak village Štiavnička near Ružomberok.