Lieutenant Colonel Miroslav Horák

* 1940

  • "Since I was known to be a radio operator and the information that was available on foreign radio stations after the 1960s was very sketchy, I tried to make contact and seek information, despite the ban of some officials. Which in effect then brought me a party punishment, because I signed a resolution against the entry of troops into Czechoslovakia. The resolution was then taken to the Soviet embassy in Kabul, and it was quite a big problem. And coincidentally, there was an industrial exhibition going on at that time, I can't remember the name now, it was in Kabul. Just an exhibition of technology and so on. The Afghans, when they found out what had happened in Czechoslovakia, and especially ours who accompanied us on our trips, they prayed for us that it would end up well with us. It didn't take long for the Soviet brothers to repeat the same thing to help Babrak Karmal, who had been installed in Afghanistan after the kingdom's demise."

  • "The main part of this facility [the Czech presence] took place, it was called Pul-e-Charkhi, there was Pul-e-Charkhi and Puli Khumri. I'm sure that tells you something. I think that was about fourteen kilometres from Kabul, from the capital, where we used to go shopping. It was awesome there in the sense that every family, and mostly there were married couples and their children with a few exceptions, had a house. This house in the Pul-e-Charkhi estate was surrounded by a wall because there were stray dogs and so on. Inside there was a swimming pool, the accommodation was sensational, a living room of about sixty square meters, hot and cold water. There was one problem, the water was salty. So, the drinking water was imported. All the mountains around Pul-e-Charkhi were salty. - "Did the electricity work then?" - "Electricity worked." - "Did you get that from the local power station?" - "Yes. And moreover there were diesel generators, so that when the power went out, the generator automatically kicked in to get the electricity going. - "In that place where the houses were for the individual foreigners, was it only a Czech town?" - "That was the Czechoslovak town of Pul-e-Charkhi." - "Was it connected with the construction of the cement factory in Puli Khumri?" - "No, it was completely somewhere else. There was, of course, a communal canteen in the housing estate, in those barracks. There were about forty or fifty of those barracks, it is hard to tell. It was a Czechoslovak town." -"Czechoslovakia built that itself?" - "The Czechoslovaks themselves built it as part of the project." - "So, there were, let's say, forty families there?" - "Well, forty for sure, but the main part were university students. The part that was related to repairing military equipment, so those were the minimum. There was an estimate of up to ten specialists from the Czech [Czechoslovak] Republic, whether they were welders, patternmaker, because part of it was a foundry. Of course, there were two of us there as radio operators, technicians for signal equipment."

  • "When a member of any delegation [Czechoslovakia, Poland, Switzerland and Sweden] arrived or left, there was a huge reception at the place to which he belonged. I don't want to say vulgarly that it was a gluttonous affair. But it was a meeting, a get-together, a chat. So, it brought us extremely close together. But there were other problems. One of the warnings I got was: 'When you talk to the Swedes, watch out, some Lieutenant Boogle works for the CIA!' So it was also a world where information was being gathered even at that time. They didn't look at us as oddballs, we were their partners. But still, when you slip something out, unknowingly, sometimes it's very valuable information. A lot of people think that espionage or agency is a special kind of work. That's not true. Part of this work is mainly monitoring arrivals, who has left the country, who has arrived, who has met with whom, monitoring the daily press. From all this, information is drawn." - "You also knew who in your group was working for the intelligence services? Or did they all work?" - "Of course. We had very close contact with the military attaché and his deputies in Fenjan [Pyongyang], and there they were giving the information through a different route." - "You suddenly had to work with Swiss and Swedish soldiers, while at home you were quite closed. Did your view of these foreign soldiers change in any way?" - "To use the term quarantine, I don't know if it's the most appropriate, but for the first three months I wasn't allowed outside the delegation building. That is to say, the old officers kept an eye on me until they found that I was able to make some kind of arrangement, that there were certain principles, because it was on a diplomatic level. You don't learn that in a day or two either. So, then I was allowed into the meeting with an escort. And it was only after six months that I was allowed, when there was a meeting, to visit delegations on my own."

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    Pardubice, 16.06.2021

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As a soldier he has been through missions in Korea and Afghanistan. In Abkhazia, he assembled Tamaras

Miroslav Horák in the first half of the 1960s
Miroslav Horák in the first half of the 1960s
photo: archiv pamětníka

Miroslav Horák was born on 15th July 1940 in Hrochův Týnec. His father Karel was a postal clerk, his mother a shop assistant. Because he did not get into the secondary industrial school of electrical engineering, he was trained as a frequency mechanic with a focus on television and radar technology in Tesla Pardubice from 1954 to 1957. After his apprenticeship, he started a one-year coal job at the Dukla mine in Ostrava, where he joined the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (KSČ). At the beginning of the 1960s, he joined the compulsory military service as a specialist in communications technology. After two years, he remained in the army as a professional soldier. While employed, he graduated from a one-year officer’s school and an electrical engineering school. He attained officer rank and then served in the 5th Signal Regiment, assigned to provide long-distance communications. On a training exercise in the German Democratic Republic (GDR), he was noticed by his superiors as a skilled radio operator and selected for a mission with the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission (NNSC) in Korea. Czechoslovakia, along with Poland, was nominated by the North Korean and Chinese sides to oversee the armistice, along with two states from the other side of the Iron Curtain, Switzerland and Sweden. Miroslav Horák spent 17 months in Korea, serving directly in the demilitarised zone separating the two Korean states and taking part in some of the negotiations. Before his trip, he got married. After returning from Korea, he was offered to go to Afghanistan as part of the A-101 operation, where a training and technical centre for the Afghan Royal Army was being built. With his wife and daughter they lived in the Czech community in Pul-e-Charkhi, they were free to travel and explore the country. After August 1968, he was one of the signatories of a petition to the Soviet Embassy in Kabul condemning the entry of Warsaw Pact troops. After his return, he joined Tesla Pardubice, working on the Ramona and Tamara passive sensors. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, he travelled to the Baltics and Abkhazia to assemble these devices. He was active in sports all his life. He retired in February 1995. In 2022 he lived with his wife in Chrtnice near Choltice.