František Horák

* 1927

  • "Of course they won't speak nicely about it. That's for sure. But I haven’t seen them being mistreated there. I don’t think they were mistreated. Well, of course they were locked up and they had to work and there was a certain order and they had to follow that order. So of course they weren’t happy about it. When I see it on TV today, they're speaking ill of it. All those who were locked up, they complain. But they forget that they were working against the regime, so what? They were against the regime, there was a law for it, punishment for it, so what?"

  • "We already knew. We listened to the radio there too. Radio Free Europe was reporting that political prisoners were disappearing. That they were probably being taken to somewhere in Russia. Meanwhile, they were taking them to Koloděje. That's where they kept Švermová. At first, we didn't want to believe this would happen. Slánský! But it was only there, in Koloděje, for a short time, maybe for about two months. Suddenly we saw a rocket at night. They fired a rocket. Someone jumped over the wall that surrounded the castle and the park. A bit higher than a meter. He jumped into the garden, into the park, and of course our people found out, so they fired a rocket. He jumped back again, there was a car there, and we weren't allowed to shoot outside, so there was nothing we could do. We weren't allowed to shoot. He jumped back in the car and drove off. And then they announced that they were locked up in Koloděje. That was the very same day at night, they moved everything out, cleared out one floor in Ruzyně, and everything that was in Koloděje was taken there overnight."

  • "There was an entrance to an office and from that office to another office, and they had him [Slánský] in the other one. And in the first one there were some Russian advisers. So they took him [Slánský] there, put him in the office, and the interrogator went out to consult someone. There was a door leading to the Russians, so Slánský took advantage of that, and as soon as the interrogator left, he slammed the door behind him, and as there was a key, he finally also locked it and he managed to hang himself. There were little windows which had little strings on them. He pulled the string off and wound it up. That was really crazy, you know. Suddenly they couldn't get in, the door was very sturdy, so we couldn’t break it down. There was such a big fuss. I went there too. We didn't know what to do or how to get in. So I remembered something and I ran up the stairs. There were elevators, but it was only from the third floor, and so I took the stairs to the courtyard. The convicts were chopping wood there, and I grabbed an ax and went up again and we broke the door down and Slánský was already hanging. So we cut the string right away, of course there were doctors there, and everything was very rushed. But it didn't take long, they resuscitated him. We just cut the string and it was fine."

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    Karlovy Vary, 29.08.2022

    duration: 02:41:27
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th Century TV
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When Slánský tried to hang himself, he saved him. Only for him to get the rope at Pankrác later.

František Horák in a photo from his youth in a service uniform, most likely from the 50s of the 20th century
František Horák in a photo from his youth in a service uniform, most likely from the 50s of the 20th century
photo: Contemporary witness's service file

František Horák was born on September 25, 1927 in Roveň. His father, a local tailor, was a legionary during the First World War. In 1945, František Horák got his apprenticeship as a tailor and worked in a clothing factory until 1949, when he joined the army. In 1948, he joined the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia and during his time in the military he was selected for a small special task unit. During the political trials in 1951, he became a guard for arrested communist officials, first at a castle in Koloděje, and later at a prison in Ruzyně. He managed to prevent the suicide of Rudolf Slánský. After his military service, he joined the National Security Corps (SNB). From the beginning of 1953, he was a part of the Jeřáb unit in the Jáchymov region. There he worked for four months as a guard in a labor camp at Barbora Mine. He was then transferred to other labor camps, namely Bytíz near Příbram and Radvanice in the Trutnov region. After the Jeřáb unit’s dissolution, he worked for the Public Security for Railways for ten years. Then he worked as an economist in the economic and financial department of the district department of Public Security, where he also kept records of weapons. For the last few years of his service he was a supervisor in the Border Guard. He retired in 1983. He was a supporter of communism all his life. In 2022, František Horák was living in Božičany in the Karlovy Vary region.