* 1922 †︎ 2016
“We, the Czechoslovaks, were not allowed to take over our capital, and we didn’t even get beyond our borders. It was done on the direct order from the Soviet Union, because Stalin opposed this. Our airmen only received permission to enter our Republic in August! We received it in May, around May 20th. But the Americans left immediately and sent us to the demarcation zone, that’s what we were good for!”
“In North Africa, we had many weapons from the enemy – machine guns, mine-throwers, and others. When we or our armourers found something left behind by them, it was refitted and sent forward to the front. So we were using their equipment and we knew it very well.”
“Many Jewish soldiers served in our army in the Middle East. Many of them joined in 1942. There were some 1,100 of them applying, but the English permitted only 600 of them to join, because the Arabs opposed it, claiming that these soldiers had been trained against them. Actually, there were some 150 of them who didn’t go to England with us, because they fled to Israel after they had passed their army training.”
“I saved some people in front of the Radio building when the infuriated crowd gathered there, and a Soviet tank exploded and its fragments were flying all over the place, and people wanted to take these fragments with them as souvenirs or what not. I shouted at them: ´Don’t touch it!´ One younger woman nearly grabbed it in her hand, and I told her: ´Just try to touch it with your shoe to see what happens, it’s flaming hot!´ Then we returned to Liberec, and Václav Havel and Jan Tříska were broadcasting from there. There was a construction site nearby, and so I ordered people to move the truck with the reinforced concrete panels to the entrance in order to block it so that nobody could interrupt their broadcasting. One lady asked me to help her get some medicine, and so I obtained it with the help of my daughter who worked in the hospital, and I was brought it to her.”
“I was happy that nothing happened to my parents, although during the terror following Heydrich’s assassination there was a close call. It was my father, I don’t know why he did it. He should have kept silent about me. I hadn't sent them any messages from Germany, and after Heydrich’s assassination every family was ordered to report the number of their family members. My father confided to one of his friends, who was a Protectorate policeman, that his son had left for work in Germany and that they hadn’t heard from him since, asking the policeman whether it should be reported. This Protectorate policeman told my dad: ´Mr. Hnělička, I didn’t hear anything just now, and God forbid should you ever talk about it anywhere else!´ Things would have been bad for me had my father kept talking about me. Although, on the other hand, if he hadn’t said anything, they might have investigated it, because people knew that I had toyed with the idea of escape before.”
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May young people be proud of their country and their nation, and not only when there is a football or ice hockey match.
Stanislav Hnělička was born in 1922 in Liberec, but he fled the Protectorate Bohemia and Moravia before turning eighteen in order to join the army and fight in the Middle East. He fought in Tobruk. Later he was transferred to England, where he was involved in the siege of Dunkerque. He received many decorations after 1989 and he also arranged for the construction of a dignified monument to the Czechoslovak soldiers in France. Stanislav Hnělička passed away on November, the 4th, 2016.