Colonel Jiří Hofman

* 1923  †︎ 2011

  • “What atrocities the Germans committed in the occupied territories... It was hard to tell, here, in the Protectorate, at least some illusion of law and order existed, at least there were court hearings, although we know how they functioned. But over there... I will give you some examples. In 1943, during the worst crisis in Ukraine, not even the Ukrainians trusted the Germans, and they fled to the woods. There was an airfield, and there were seven bomber planes on that airfield and several times a week they would fly bombing missions over Ukrainian villages. Or the Soviet captives: In Rovno they gathered tens of thousands of them in a field surrounded by a barb wire. At the end of 1942 there were only two thousand left. The others died of hunger or were shot, murdered. In Rovno they massacred eighteen thousand Jews in one day. The prisons were always full and whenever there was some rumour, about a partisan counterattack or something like that, they would lead people out of the prison and hang them. During the Easter holiday of 1943, just as the people were leaving the sobor (Orthodox church) after the service, they saw seven persons hanged, with the following notice: ´The teeth of a venomous adder were broken today.´”

  • “During my entire military career, if you can call it so, I was in charge of technical support in a field that required continual study of new developments in electronics and their application for the particular branch of the army, which made it even more difficult. The Tamara radar – I devoted thirty years of my life to it.”

  • “Wise and determined people founded a Czech resistance organization, it was named Blaník. Its main objective was not fighting the Nazis directly, I mean in armed combat, since that would be hopeless and they would have crushed us like a flea. What we strove for was to represent the Czech nation, to become unified in our opinions on what to do and how. And they were even publishing their own paper, for about nine months, and that was quite an achievement! It was just incredible how they managed to keep it.”

  • “Her name was Sarkaničová. She became an orphan during the Spanish war, and the interbrigade soldiers took her with them to the Soviet Union. A Slovak family then adopted her, and that’s how she got the name Sarkaničová. Obviously, she mastered Russian perfectly, and she applied as a volunteer. She went through some short nursing course, but this did not satisfy her, so she became a radio operator, and since she was as if of Slovak origin, she was transferred to our unit. She was a great girl, and immensely responsible...Women have one advantage in radio communication, when the air becomes ´crowded´ with many calls, then the female voice pleading: ´ Uchadi z darožki, milij, uchadi z darožky…‘(Leave the line, please…) So when a guy heard her voice, he left the line free for a moment so that she could send the message.”

  • “It was generally known that the line across Europe has already been drawn, and that it was unchangeable, and whoever would have wanted to alter it – be it one side or the other – there would be another war. The party which had the atomic bomb believed it could cross this line, but only until the other party developed its own A-bomb. So it became a stalemate. I still cannot understand why Churchill back then in Fulton drew this Iron Curtain. It was irresponsible of him, because he declared the division of Europe, probably on the insistence of the Americans, but he was no longer the commander of the war, and thus in my opinion the whole Cold War was nonsense, it was unnecessary. To blame Stalin that he planned to occupy Europe – that’s rubbish! Did not he have enough problems in his own country? Whoever has seen that mess would agree with me that this assertion does not make sense. Nevertheless, this statement has been repeated over and over again, till our days.”

  • “While on the front I have never spoken to general Svoboda in person. General Svoboda enjoyed an immense authority among our people, an immense authority, because he was an honest man, without any ulterior motives. Some historians, or rather hysterical persons, claim: ´But he did not even study at a military academy.´ Well, he did not but he went through a different school. Those other generals, they graduated from French military schools, and they drew on the experience from WWI, which was completely useless in WWII. Svoboda drew on his own experience gained on the front and on the experience of Soviet commanders, who were very skilled, and I believe this fully compensated for any military academy.”

  • “At first I was assigned to one special unit, then I was promoted to the headquarters, then to the general headquarters; my apologizes for being so vague, but it would do no good if I told you exactly what kind of unit it was and what we did. These were simply units incorporated into the entire army, meaning that we carried out these special tasks throughout the whole army. It was called a communication unit. And why was it so special? Because it was a radio communication unit. The official name is radio reconnaissance. Basically, there’s is a radio and two people are using it to communicate and a third person is listening to them, and it’s a legal activity, because radio is a public service. I had more than enough work in relation to this.”

  • “When the fighting at Dukla began, the army commander was looking for general Svoboda: ´Where is general Svoboda?´ They could not find him for a long time, and then eventually found him among the infantrymen. The commander told him that he was no gunner to spend time among the gunners. (laughing). And general Svoboda replied: ´They are my people!´ Or something along these lines, that they were not gunners, but my people!”

  • “I like to remember those people, and that time, it gave me a lot for my subsequent life, because there I could gain a better insight to the soul of the true Russian people. The dormitory next to us was occupied by a whole platoon, there were twenty-seven of them, all Heroes of the Soviet Union, all signalers. They received this decoration for the battle for Kiev. And they were very good boys, unpretentious, normal persons, they did not strive to become professional officers; they all wanted to get back to the front. We became friends and not only with these boys. I like to remember it. I learnt the fundamentals for my qualification there and for the rest of my life as well, because the teachers there were great and they knew how to enthuse us for the subject.”

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    Praha, 10.04.2006

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    duration: 03:58:45
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The word of an elder was sacred in Volynhia

HOFMAN 2.jpg (historic)
Colonel Jiří Hofman
photo: HOFMAN@2n.cz, syn Hofman Miroslav

Jiří Hofman was born May 16th, 1923 to Antonie and Vladislav Hofman in an Ukrainian village of Družkopol, however he considers the village Martinovka, where he has spent most of his life till joining the army in 1944, his native place. The vast majority of Martinovka´s population was Czech. This former part of Polish territory was at the beginning of the WWII passed on to the Soviet Union. After the occupation of the Soviet Union by Germany on June 21st, 1941 the entire Volyně region was taken over by the German army. The territory gradually began to be administered by the Soviet Union again from 1944 onwards as the Red Army advanced. During this time Jiří Hofman joined the Czechoslovak army unit and was sent to a radio operators´ training in Murom. Upon completing the course he joined the First Czechoslovak army corps and took part in the fighting at Dukla. After the war he stayed in Czechoslovakia, became a professional army specialist and completed his grammar school education. Jiří Hofman has a strong interest in the history and fate of the Volyně region and the local Czech minority. He died 9.8.2011.