“We crossed the river, it was frozen. There was a forest right behind the river. We got into the forest and chased the Germans out, they ran away. Our task was to cut the main retreat route leading westward from Bílá Cerekev. German units had already been surrounded in Bílá Cerekev. We were to interrupt this main retreat route. And you can imagine what a task it was when there were some two divisions of them surrounded in the town. The Germans sent everything they had to get their surrounded units back… It was in winter. We started out attack in the evening, we crossed the frozen river Ros. It was freezing and there was snow, which, crunched under our feet. At dawn, we began attacking from the edge of the forest toward the main entry road. The Germans had naturally massed very strong units there during the night. There was a forest on the other side of the road. They massed their tank units there. Imagine that we were crossing the river Ros and the Russians, who were to hold a direct line with us, stayed back as we advanced. And they were even shouting at us to keep advancing.”
“Germans had spent the night in that stack of straw. They were those who were then shot near these stacks. There was a tunnel leading inside the stack. I got in it, thinking, all right, now they crawl inside. So I got out and there was a machine-gun. Our boys had left a machine-gun there. I pulled it back into this tunnel. I was nervous. I was so nervous, I didn’t know what to do. I thought, wait, they will come here and find you. I began crawling diagonally in that stack, hiding in there. At night our boys had retreated behind the river to our starting point... I was so afraid inside that stack, I thought my hair would turn gray. I didn’t know if it was day or night. Every minute felt like a year. I thought – what if they set the straw on fire, I would burn to death here. The Germans got inside this stack. They were half a metre from me, we were separated only by the straw. They were smoking there and talking. I thought – if I cough, it’s all over. I smelled smoke. I thought – Jesus Christ, they will really set the straw on fire. I could smell the smoke. They did not set the straw on fire. I lived to see another day. That was the counterattack of our and Soviet troops. Again, at the same road, at the same stack of straw. I smelled the smoke, I could not get out, I was not able to crawl to that tunnel from which, I had got there. I could not move. I crawled backwards. I was suffocating. Luckily, I eventually found the place and I got out. The straw was on fire. I took the machine-gun and saw the Germans running away toward a forest. They were retreating to a trench, where their ferdinand (a tank) was hidden and where we had been the day before with captain Dočekal. I thought – Christ Jesus! The Germans were running from the forest to these stacks of straw like crazy. I let them come closer and I opened fire on them from the machine-gun. But our troops and the Russians were advancing from the back. They saw somebody firing from a machine-gun from a stack. So they began firing at that stack of straw and at me. There were three stacks, they approached them from the other side. I had no ammunition left, so I left the machine-gun there for them. It occurred to me they might attack from the other side. I ran to the other side and the Russians were there. I said: ´You idiots, I was inside. I was shooting from that machine-gun. I’ve been here since yesterday!”
“They eventually used coercive means. Meaning, one day they woke me up at midnight and led me down to the basement to a cell, which, was all painted black. On the floor, on some wooden planks, there was a coffin. ´What for?!´ I said. Some captain replied: ´Well, if I shoot you, you drop right in there!´ He made me stand facing the window. I saw, that outside the Moon was shining brightly. He told me that if I was not cooperative, he would shoot me. However, I’ve already had some training from the Hungarian prison. From one of the leaders – a chief of the Romanian counterespionage service from the city of Kluj. I spent a year in a cell with him and he taught me how intelligence service worked. So I was already trained how to react in various situations. And this saved me, for if I had consented and said – ´yes, I will´ – the Russians would have said: ´See, here we are, so you did want to get back, you are a Hungarian spy, etc.´ As it usually was. (...) Now he made me stand against the window and from behind my back he said: ´I’m counting to three. If you don’t say ´yes,´ I shoot you.´ I was standing there, I remembered my parents and all my relatives and I was sorry my life would end this way, in that cell. I heard him suddenly cock the gun and place it next to my ear and said, ´Can you feel the coldness of death? You got only seconds. One. Two...´And I did not hear the third because he slammed me with this gun on my head so that I fell down and laid unconscious. Then, I woke up in the corridor, one of the wardens was pouring water on me. He said, ´Ubrať´- Take him. They dragged me into the cell again.”
“That was already right on the border. I got an order that with my company we would be the first ones to attack Nižný Komárnik. Naturally I had a company but it was not a full company, because they had already assembled the rest from other companies and the company was not complete. Staff captain Hynek told me: ´Look here, Hulín, here is a flag, and when you get to that village, you have to be the first one to raise a flag in our territory!´ I replied: ´Yes, sir.´ Now imagine this: At dawn we were standing at the edge of the forest in front of that village Nižný Komárnik and I was still giving instructions to the boys how the attack would proceed, etc. On my right sight there were our machine- gunners. Their company commander was giving orders to them, because they were to attack on our right. (...) The Russians had a mortar-thrower. Some hundred, two hundred metres from us, not more than half a kilometre. Behind us. Imagine this, they fired two or three shells right in the midst of our boys – these machine-gunners. Some twenty boys were killed on the spot. I thought we would get crazy at that place. One of my boys – a messenger – got hit in his head, and the top of his head flew away. He made a few more steps and then collapsed. I was lucky he stood in front of me, because if he had not, I would have got it. I saw that my messenger dropped down, so I immediately chose another boy. I told him: ´Look here, this is what you’ll do, etc.´ – to explain to him what his task was. He replied: ´All right.´ Thus we set out to attack on Nižný Komárnik. We arrived to the border, and the Germans had such a strong position there – the terrain was rocky and they could hide perfectly behind these boulders. I got to some clearing. I could not get through it straight to that hill, since there was nearly a regiment of soldiers descending from the hill. I thought it would be stupid to head to the clearing, so I had to get around it on the right side through the forest. Meanwhile I sent that boy, the messenger, to the left side, where the company of machine-gunners was. I told them to start attacking on the left side to cover me, while I was going around the from the right-hand side through the forest, because I could not get through the clearing. But the boy retuned – he found the company commander in some ditch, crouching in a trench. He told him what to do. Meanwhile our company attacked from the right side, we got around that clearing and what eventually happened was that the company which was on the left side began firing at us through that clearing. We stood one against the other. I thought, this cannot be, impossible! We had losses, but we eventually did get to Nižný Komárnik. We raised the flag there. I don’t know if we were the first ones, or if it was somebody else who claimed they were first there... But we were among the first to get to Nižný Komárnik and raise the flag.”
“I was in the prison hospital. I was carrying the dead from there. Out of the zone, as they called it, behind the barb-wire fence. And I was burying them there but the axe they gave me was blunt and my small shovel broke. I had to dig the graves with these. I had terrible blisters on my palms. I thought, ´This can’t be! I’ll die here!´ Because it was impossible to work with it. I was told they had no other tools and that I had to use these and that was it. I was digging graves but I did not dig too deep, only a little, to cover the corpses at least. One day, when I brought another dead body, to my horror, I found out that the grave had been messed with and the corpse was not there. I was really desperate, I did not know what was going on. For he was dead, how could he get out from there?! Or who took him from there?! Quite simply, it was in winter, there were forests around and wolves sensed that I had buried him there. So they rummaged out the grave and dragged the corpse away. But the grave got covered with snow, which had been falling, so it was not visible. Next time – after I discovered this – I thought, what can I do if it’s like this here? Somewhere they toss corpses into furnaces, here there are wolves that will be taking out my corpses and dragging them away to the forest. And devour them there... Eventually the wolves were welcoming me, whenever I was carrying a corpse. For I only covered it slightly and they did the rest.”
We had doubts whether, we had not been sent to the Carpathians on purpose. As the former prisoners of Siberian concentration camps we were not to get to Czechoslovakia
Mikuláš Hulín was born November 26, 1922 in Carpathian Ruthenia. Where he lived with his parents until the Hungarian occupation. Which, interrupted his studies and forced him to go to fight against the occupants. After a short time as a partisan, he decided to go to Prague. However, he was arrested by the Gestapo on his way and deported to Vienna. His escape saved him from being handed over to the Hungarians. His journey to the Soviet Union, however, was not successful. He was arrested by the Soviets and given over to the Hungarians. He managed to escape from a Hungarian prison and he set out on another attempt to cross the border to the Soviet Union. He was arrested and subjected to brutal interrogations by the NKVD. He was eventually interned in several Soviet gulags and he was freed from there, only by the Czechoslovak army mission, which whom he travelled all the way to Buzuluk. There he joined Czechoslovak foreign units, went through training and then served in a mortar and signallers’ unit, to be eventually assigned to the Mixed reconnoiter section. He fought at Sokolovo, Bílá Cerekev, Dukla, Nižný Komárnik and in the Czech territory. He was wounded three times during the war, resulting in the loss of his left leg. After the war, he passed his grammar school graduation exam. After February 1948, he was arrested by the Secret Police for his resistance activity against the communist regime. He was then released but he lost his property. He eventually settled near Karlovy Vary, where he was working in a tobacconist’s. After some time, he returned to the army; he then decided to leave and become a civilian in 1972 before the normalization screening process. Since 1975, he has been retired and living in Karlovy Vary. He passed away in 2015.