Antonín Hnilička

* 1927

  • „Gauleiter, as engineer. And he was a total German. He still saw the imperfections. We were supposed to throw six cubic meters of clay, when it was all stones so it was hardly possible. We only had those small pickaxes. And we chiselled with them. Or the canalisation was four or five metres deep and we would throw from a metre distance. So what could we chisel really…? For example there was an entry to the yard and they did not want to dig through so we just chiselled with small pickaxes. Before we had half a cubic metre of clay, it was midday already. When it was all stones, they began to shout sabotage, Bolsheviks! Nearby, but separated, a commando of two squads of Russian war prisoners were working near us. They were just so poor; only bones and skin. They wore those rags and were hungry as wolfs. They´d beg wherever they could – behind the house, on the toilet, in latrine: ,Have you got a smoke? You got some bread?‘ We also had just a ration. And they´d ask how it is in the front and when will the war be over. They were completely cut off. But it was not unseen. Gestapo began to visit the workplace. They wore those hats, collars and leather coats. And started to observe. And Gauleiter would keep saying we Bolsheviks and we are plotting a sabotage.“

  • „An SS unit was entrenched there. As we got there in our prisoner´s clothes, some had even pistols, I did not have any, as I´d probably shoot myself, and then it all started. Alles out. They put a machine gun at each fender, bayonet on the right. We all were in front, the driver went really slow. We went all the way to the bridge. Nearby there were the barracks of army troops. Now we could see – there was shooting under the bridge, along the river the SS men led people who were resisting. They´d shoot them there. No revolution. It was around a quarter to eleven and thought, that is all finished for us. Now we are trapped. On the bridge an army soldier guarded and we kind of spontaneously called at him to help us. The SS men chased him away and did not want to talk to him at all. He called to us he´d be back. And he came back together with a government troops under colonel and he got us out of it.“

  • „They took us to gestapo, wrote a protocol. Hnilička, name, Roman Catholic and so on. And then he´d write and write what he reported (Gauleiter). We didn’t even sign it and never went back to work. We stayed four days in gestapo, each on his own. Then they took us to a collection camp in Lanzendorf near Vienna. We were about two thousand people there.“

  • „As they called someone: Häftling nummer tolik links abtreten. That meant it was over. Apelplac was finished and we went to the houses and heard a “befell”, an order. They immediately ordered blokáč and štubák to cover the windows with blankets, hide the windows straight away, and no one could go out. Well and I together with another guy were tightening the covers and we saw the shooting at apelplac, the dogs were barking. The whole commando was tortured all night. The dogs were tearing the guys in pieces and so on. He was a member of the central committee of Sokol. When we walked to the stone mine in the morning, I went on the right side and saw them lying torn by the dogs and only one prisoner was kind of leaning to the wall. And there also the Sokol member was supposed to die and me too, in Tyrš house on the wall of honour, those who died in a concentration camp in Mauthausen.“

  • „You know how it was in the mines. The bulbs were only screwed on the wire. The water was running. Often the bulb went off and it was dark. I do not know how many we were. Maruška was not there as not all commandos were there then. We were resting after a night shift, they took us there. We were about six or seven Czechoslovaks and did not want to come to any harm, so we proceeded forward one by one. We got the very end, to the foot gallery. We could not possibly go any further. There was shooting, screaming and dogs barking behind us. It was just pure terror. As the bombs were falling all around, at some place poorly worked there were tons of ground and prisoners were standing there and got earthed up. And the screaming and dogs barking. We went there once and twice. It was all right. When we went the third time, it was 5 p.m. already and we would not go. What happened? A Spanish prisoner drew the massacre at the entry. Those in front, who would not go in, were beaten down. They fell and stayed there treaded. Many people were dead. We were supposed to end up the same way too.“

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    Praha, u pamětníka, 24.01.2009

    duration: 04:41:37
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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Antonín Hnilička
Antonín Hnilička

Antonín Hnilička was born on 16 January, 1927 in Uherský Brod in a family of a farmer. In 1938 Antonín experienced a mobilisation of the Czechoslovak army during which also his brother was draughted. During war many citizens of the Southern Moravia including Antonín Hnilička, were forced to manual labour in Austria. After the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich in summer 1942 Antonín was arrested together with other three Czechs and accused of sabotage. The witness is unaware of the exact case of his imprisonment. After questioning he was transported into the fortress Lanzendorf near Vienna, where he spent Christmas in 1942. Soon after that he was transported with other prisoners to concentration camp Mauthausen. In Mauthausen Antonín alternated between many workplaces, also did ground works in so called Russenlager, but the toughest work was in a stone mine. At the end of 1943 after transporting to nearby concentration camp Gusen, he worked for about a year in a stone mine again and at the end of war in an aviation factory. In May 1945 he experienced a liberation and set off on his way back home through České Budějovice towards Slovácko. After the war he worked at state railway. In 1949 he enlisted in the army and until 1984 he worked at the border patrol in Šumava. Antonín Hnilička lives in Prague and is still active in the area of awareness and education and participates in debates with secondary school students.