Vladimír Janoušek

* 1924  †︎ 2020

  • “This must have been used for war purposes… All factories worked for the military back then. I worked with tin. But I had a friend there who spoke German well and found out they needed a trombonist in the Nürnberg Philharmonic. I applied for the position, they accepted me and this was the end of my working at the factory. I played a few concerts for them but then my brother, who was in Dresden — four years, he was born 1921 — well, it was like they came from the Reich’s music chamber and listened to concerts of graduates. Whenever they liked someone they would say, ‘To Germany’. That was the reason why there were many Czech musicians. And not just musicians, there were also waiters, people born in 1921 and sent to forced labour. And my brother and his friends, some Lex Cína from Kladno, had a double concert there. Some Germans already waited for them and told them, ‘You can choose, either a factory or the Dresden Philharmonic. They made themselves a name there and my brother spoke to one of the directors, telling him, ‘Look, my brother is in Nürnberg, it would be fine to have him here, you need a trombonist anyway.’ They lacked a trombonist as they had sent all the young guys to the front. They lacked musicians.”

  • “Six weeks passed, then more six weeks and suddenly Christmas 44 was here. For Christmas Eve I got a piece of filthy bread and turnip soup. This was Christmas Eve. I said then, ‘We’re going to die here’. With two other guys — I am sorry, I forgot their names, it was so long ago. I was not hiding any documents. I had a single document which said that I was said I was sent for six week — this was in German — for the festungsbau. So we made a secret agreement and simply fled on the Boxing Day. Three boys…”

  • “Let me tell you, I had my relatives, distant relatives, in Kiev. I had three aunts there, sisters of my wife. And one of them, her name was Ina, she wanted… well, when I visited them, twice I went to Kiev, I told her, come to visit us, I will pay for your journey. So she took great pains to arrange for the journey, it was all about bribery there, without bribes you could not go anywhere. She arrived, we took her to our cottage and she was amazed, saying, ‘This is the bourgeoise, it stinks so much but how sweet it is, how sweet.’ We had a swimming pool there, a new one, very nice, she just lied around the pool and could not believe that common people we were could live in such a way. Well, I saw the way she lived. As a doctor she had a salary of 90 rubles per month; besides that she served as a doctor at the drunk-tank, for this she had some extra money, I guess.”

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    Praha, 06.03.2017

    duration: 01:55:48
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If we die here, no one will know where we fell

Vladimír Janoušek a photo of that time
Vladimír Janoušek a photo of that time
photo: Post Bellum collection

Vladimír Janoušek was born on February 18, 1924, in Prague. He trained as a trombonist at the Prague Conservatory, was sent to forced labour to a factory in Nürnberg in March 1944. He got a position of a trombonist in the Nürnberg Philharmonic and shortly after that switched to Dresden. In September 1994 he was sent, as auxiliary force, to the front in the Ardennes. He and his friends fled at Christmas 1944 and he returned to Prague. He worked in a factory in Hloubětín, where he experienced the bomb raids, In 1947 he joined the orchestra of the Prague Castle Guard and after short stays in a few theatres he found his position in Vít Nejedlý’s Army Orchestra. On this job he made a number of journeys, including the 1952 journey to China, where he was invited by the Marshall Zhu De and where they spent three months touring the country. In 1967 to 1968 he accompanied circus troupes in West Germany and then returned to the renewed AUS orchestra with which he performed until 1982, when, following the emigration of his daughter, he was prematurely pensioned.