“We would often visit Crow Crag, which gave us a wonderful view of the countryside in all directions. But we were waiting for the American fighter planes, which were nicknamed ‘boilermakers’ because their task was to devastate the train system by shooting up the steam boilers of locomotives. You’d see a plume of steam come up, the pilots would circle round the train to give the civilians time to escape, then they’d shoot the train up so it wouldn’t have a chance to work any more. In that way paralysed the already crippled German war efforts.”
“[Q: Were you under any political pressure at the business academy?] I don’t know if you can call it political pressure, but we were the holiday jobbing year group. Hardly had we started school, we had to go off for the harvest, then we learnt for a few days and were off picking hops. We returned from the hops, learnt a few days, then we had to go shave the beet, which was snowed up or wet, they hadn’t harvested it in time, so we cut the leaves of the beet. We also went potato picking. You had to dig those out. We even went hops picking in our final year, just not right before our finals. These duties were a matter of course, and if you didn’t go you had to have confirmation from your doctor. That was accepted. But your parents couldn’t excuse you themselves.”
“I love my birthplace. It’s a beautiful village at the edge of the Křivoklát Forests. And the idea to found Sokol originated in the nearby gamekeeper’s lodge at Král [‘Kingsly’], where Jindřich Fügner and Miroslav Tyrš met up to put their plan into action with the help and funding of Dr Scheiner, who had a villa in Svatá. Sokol, which promoted physical exercise, physical education, the strengthening of both body and mind, was a leading force in the village and was known for it. People came from the neighbouring villages and towns to exercise in the nature with improvised equipment.”
“We came to school after the holidays, and the very first day some Germans came in white coats - probably doctors. They wanted to give us injections. To vaccinate us against something. The information must have leaked out ahead of time because as soon as the Germans came anywhere, people got scared. And when the white coats came with their syringes, people were scared because it wasn’t clear what vaccination it was supposed to be. So suddenly all the mums came to school, the doctors started explaining what they wanted to do, but the mums wouldn’t take it, they each grabbed their child or the children of mums who couldn’t come there, and took us home. So they weren’t afraid [of the doctors]. [The doctors] didn’t know what to do, so they left. So we didn’t get any injection from the Germans.”
My uncle stood up for the ordinary Germans after the war and gave the so-called Revolutionary Guards a seeing-to
Blahoslav Havránek was born on 28 January 1933 in the village of Svatá in Beroun District, as the second son of a tailor. He grew up in Svatá. He remembers various situations during the war, which he witnessed as a boy, and the lives of the inhabitants of Svatá and the surrounding area. For example, the family of Sokol [a famous nationwide Czech sports movement - trans.) co-founder Josef Scheiner, who had a summer residence in the village, or the resistance fighter Josef Košťálek from Zdice, or his uncle Karel, who stood up for the defenceless German farmers whose horses and carts were looted by the Revolutionary Guards at the end of the war. Blahoslav Havránek attended a business academy in Beroun and worked at sinter plant and at an ironworks; he was fired in 1969 for organising a petition calling on the Warsaw Pact forces to leave the country. He was briefly employed at a construction cooperative before accepting an offer of furthering his education at a secondary technical school and working at a research institute in Karlštejn. After going into pension he served as the mayor of Hudlice near Beroun for 12 years. He published his memoirs in a book titled Vraní skála (Crow Crag).