Jindřich Heřkovič

* 1923  †︎ 2012

  • "There was no individual, an individual simply could never assert himself. We were dependent on each other, and the relationships matched that. As for the incidents. Even when we were in the camp, we went out to work, and there we got certain things that we hid, because when we returned, they checked us many times. And I had some things hidden in my shirt in the back so it wouldn't be visible. And I don't know if it's appropriate to present such an incident here… one needed to hurry to the toilet... There were such latrines. There, I knelt on it and as I took off my pants, I forgot about it as I felt the urge, I had some money there, it all spilled over into the latrine. Then we somehow collected it with friends. Unfortunately, there were more sadder stories than happy stories. For example, when we were… When a pretty girl passed by, we were attracted to the fact that she was carrying a loaf of bread under her arm and not the physical beauty. Come on, it wasn't easy."

  • "Perhaps I could talk about the circumstances during which I was injured. With the tanks, as we moved, so because the terrain was quite bad, we mostly moved on the roads. And at one point, the front tanks somehow stopped and didn't move on. I was on the tank with the deputy commander of the battalion, it was the Lieutenant Lizálek at the time - and just at his command I was supposed to go to see what was going on, why they were not moving on. Well, I found out that there were Germans hidden in the trenches, who shoot in aa way, that they can no longer move. Well, when I wanted to come back with the news, it didn't work out, because they were shooting at me terribly. Suddenly, I saw that Lieutenant Lizálek, when I was not going, went alone to see what was happening. I felt a little bit awkward for that, so I just overlooked the shooting and I started - I ran back. Of course, carefully, but it was of no use, because there were Germans with snipers and I just got a shot from behind with a sniper and thus the war practically ended for me, because it was quite a serious injury. It was a shot from behind with a shattered collarbone, so all through."

  • "The escape was not easy at all. The front often moved, sometimes here, sometimes there. And we hit the moment when we were in such a valley, through which there were practically shots fired and the fights were quite rough. We managed to hide in the valley and when the front moved, we managed to hide and stay where the Soviet soldiers came. It wasn't easy there either. We imagined that if we escaped there, that all the glory would come and that everything would go perfectly, of course. But it was not like that. They pointed sub-machine guns at us, and it took a lot of work until we convinced them that we had escaped. They immediately took us to a labor camp, where the prisoners were. We went from one labor camp to another. They wrote a protocol for us everywhere and finally, they sent us to, because we were already asking for it, of course, we already knew that there was a Czechoslovak army or a military unit of Czechoslovakia. So, we asked for a place there and after all those interrogations we got to the so-called political camp, that was near Moscow in Krasnogorsk. It was such a political camp, where there were various war criminals and people who were to be sent to the enemy's background for various purposes. And also to the army, to the Czechoslovak foreign army, and from there we went to the army."

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    Praha, 29.05.2003

    duration: 44:24
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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We cannot say that we live in full peace

The lieutenant colonel Jinřich Heřkovič
The lieutenant colonel Jinřich Heřkovič
photo: archive of the witness

A World War II veteran, Colonel Jindřich Heřkovič was born on January 29, 1923, into a Jewish family in Sekernica in Subcarpathian Russia. Due to his background, after the Hungarian occupation of Subcarpathian Russia at the beginning of the war, he ended up in a Hungarian labor camp. The other members of the family ended up in Nazi extermination camps, surviving only three out of ten. In 1943, the witness was sent within the Hungarian troops to the Eastern Front, where he managed to escape and surrendered to Soviet troops. He aimed to join the Czechoslovak army. In January 1944 he joined the tank brigade. He excelled especially in the Carpathian-Dukla operation. He was severely wounded in the fighting during the liberation of Ostrava in the spring of 1945 and could not continue the fight. After 1946 he worked at the Ministry of the Interior and got married. In 1953, for political reasons, Jindřich was sent to work at the Hlubina Mine in Ostrava. In August 1968, he did not agree with the entry of Warsaw Pact troops into Czechoslovakia and subsequently emigrated to the USA. After a year and a half, he returned for family reasons and worked in the CKD. After 1989, he was responsible for the renewal of the activities of the Czechoslovak Legionary Community. He was the laureate of the Czechoslovak War Cross and more than twenty other military awards. He is an important citizen of Prague 3 and an honorary citizen of the city of Ostrava. He died on March 19, 2012 in Prague.