“We all wanted to get out of there and we wanted to join the Army. But they kept saying: 'Bukra, bukra.' We got to know later 'bukra' meant 'tomorrow' in Arabic. Well, when that 'bukra' lasted for over a week, we ran out of our patience. We were desperate both by the treatment, by the environment and food and also by the despair of that repetitive 'bukra, bukra...' We kept saying to ourselves, bloody hell, if that was going on that way, we would croak there.”
“There was a guy from Slovakia among us, Tomáš Kupec. He also took part in grenade throwing in our spare time. His grenade remained sitting on the barbed wires surrounding the fort. Well, he took a stick – we had no idea what he was going to do – and he went towards the grenade and banged into the grenade. Of course it exploded and he got slightly wounded – by the way, it also split his skin on his scrotum and one of his balls prolapsed. He was unhappy and he asked me 'cause he thought I understood that as a medical student. He asked me if he still would be able to... sexually... He said it of course in different words, in words that soldiers speak. I said: 'Oh yeah, Tomáš, this cannot...' But he ended up in a wrong way because he did it over too much and not carefully enough. Eventually, he caught a venereal disease.”
“In 1939 I went back home to the already independent Slovak State. I was conscripted into the Army and for race reasons I was allocated as a soldier of Working Troop. I served at Žilina for four months. Those were units in which served mainly the Jews and Gipsies. Having started my service I had to swear fidelity to the Slovak State touching a shovel, literally: 'I swear.' It meant that we took the shovel – instead of a gun – from our right hand to the left hand. Raising our right hand and both the index finger and middle finger we had to declare: 'We swear.'”
“I got to know what the arisator behaved like, so I found him. It was just hay making time. I told him, well buddy, I heard this and that and he replied: 'It's not true... ' I said: 'Look,' I took my belt off, I had my colt. 'Now we are a man to a man, let's cross our swords.' Well, and I beat him till he bled, the whole village saw it because all the people were out on the meadows. They took him to hospital in Košice where he spent three weeks. Some time later I got summons from a military procurator from Košice - for heavy battery. We were discussing it with the major procurator here in Prague. Of course we had no intention of going to the court but on the other hand, it was necessary to do something about it in a formal way. And he said: 'You know what boys, give it to me.' He did it ad acta and it was the end of the story.'”
“We were half dead on the fifth day, we were thinking of a suicide the day before. We had two pistols which were of no use anyway, so that idea of suicide was out of the question. I apparently suggested – I can't remember that but according to the others – I suggested that we jumped out into the sea and finished the affliction. None of the two happened. On the fifth day a biplane appeared above us all of a sudden and the two pilots stuck their hands out and pointed with their thumbs up.”
“There was a guy in the battalion, I suspect his name was Sedláček. He was a sergeant-major, a guy in his forties. Well, if you went to a brothel, you had to leave some impression and you had to undergo prophylaxis. 'Cause if there was no note about you, you didn't undergo prophylaxis and you went to hospital because of some venereal disease and you didn't get any soldier's pay. Well, the boys wrote: ' Sedláček, Sedláček, Sedláček.' Well, and there came some report to the commander of the training center, who that Sedláček was because he did it almost daily and a few times... He called dear Sedláček and then they found out it was not him.”
I had to take the oath to the Slovak state by touching a shovel. We took the shovel – instead of a gun – from our right hand to the left hand and we had to declare: ‘We swear.’
MUDr. Josef Herz was born in hamlet Čalovka in Ergeš village (Trebišov) in Slovakia on August 8, 1917. He graduated from school in Košice in 1935 and he went to study medicine to Prague. He returned home, to a newly established Slovak state, after they had closed universities in 1939. Due to the race reasons he was conscripted into the Army very soon. He joined working troops consisting mainly of the Roma and the Jews. He was temporarily dismissed from the Army at the beginning of May 1940. Following his brother he decided to flee to Palestine. He embarked on the emigration ship Pentscho and with five hundred passengers he left Bratislava on May 18, 1940. After they had suffered a shipwreck they were saved by the British. Consequently, Josef Herz was integrated in an Egypt prison in Alexandria. Having been released he joined the Czechoslovak Army in Alexandria, he fought at Tobruk. He was appointed a commander of Reconnaissance troop of a Moto-batallion at Dunkirk. Josef Herz completed his studies at the Medical Faculty a year after the war. A year after that he went to the Surgery Department in Na Bulovce Hospital. He worked there until he retired in 1992. Josef Herz was deputy chairman of the Czechoslovak Legion Community. He died December 9, 2010.