Luboš Jednorožec

* 1925  †︎ 2016

  • The fence. It was a square-shaped fence. And here, here was an entry road, which then continued through the whole camp. And this place, this is where the gatekeeper stood, a civilian, who watched the place day and night. The guard was there to check who went to work in the shaft and who didn’t. Here was a locksmith’s workshop for lamps, a so-called lamp room, over there probably stood the headframe, and here was the haulage engine house. This here was an old house, which was in use; the new one was not working yet. And a path diverged from the road here, and ran in this direction, and right here, there was a bend. This is a mine station, and the headframe over there. There was a turn in the road. We walked this road and I disappeared at this place as we were making a turn. Right here by the first hoisting winch, there was a door where the gatekeeper was sitting. He was sitting outside, he had his leg propped against this railing, and was looking at it. But the hoisting winch was far. The door was here. They had a buzz saw, a saw here, over there was a place for storing wood, and this is where the locksmith’s workshops stood. There, we were released, each of us went into the lamp room to pick his lamp, then we were assembled again, counted, and led to work. As I drew it here, there was a bend on the road, and I took advantage of it, for the guards walked in front of us and in the back, and so they could not see this place, and I hid here. I crawled under the hoisting wench and there were many windows and the light coming from them made it look like daytime. I was afraid something would happen, but the cop did not go there. So I crossed the road, I sneaked around the buzz saw to the wires of the fence, and this is where the snipers´ zone was. Double fence, there was a five-metre distance between the wires. The guy had an excellent view precisely on the wires and the snipers´ zone. I used the opportunity and cut those terrible wires with my tiny tongs. There was a thicket some five or ten metres behind the fence. I sat there, rested a bit, took off my high mining shoes and left them there. I had already disposed of my mining coat in the haulage engine house, and that was it. I took one more look over the entire area of Slavkov and on all those camps, shining in the dark, and I thought: ´I hope this is the last time I see it.´

  • "[When they arrested me] I was handcuffed but I managed to reach into my wallet and take out the things I had in there – the letter – and stuff them down my shirt because I wanted to destroy them. I managed to sneak them into Bartolomějská Road where, in short, they put me behind bars. They put me in a prison cell. They searched me all over but they didn’t find it. It was there that I first encountered an informer. He was, I think, a major from Slovakia. He began telling me his story... All I could think of though was the letter I still hadn’t destroyed. Of course, with the experience I have today I would have torn it up and flushed it down the toilet. I wanted to burn it but I didn’t know what to use and how to do it. I confided in him and told him I had the letter and needed to destroy it. He came up to me and said: „Listen, what you have to do is ask the prison warden to light you a cigarette and then you burn the letter. He called for the prison warden and said something to him. The warden took him out of the prison cell. After a while, the warden came to get me. They took me into an office where they stripped me and the letter fell to the floor. That’s how I landed myself in it in black and white. The letter was evidence of the fact that I had known about Švestková’s (illegal) border crossing and that amounted to treason."

  • “One never knows. It was a beautiful starry night. The gatekeeper was sitting on the railing and watching the exact place where I was. As a scout, I had learned that at night you react to the slightest rustle. Even when you’re not paying attention – the warden was gazing at the stars – you look in that direction. So, slowly, I crouched down and lay down on the road. I sneaked across the road right before his very eyes. I came to a fence. A fence of barbed wire. There was a 5m sniper zone there. I had two fences in front of me. I hadn’t expected the fence to be made out of steel and I only had a small pair of pliers. You won’t believe what willpower can do. You suddenly have great strength in your arms and you don’t notice any pain because something keeps driving you forward. You know you can’t do anything else and that your life depends on what you are doing.”

  • “Those who were in solitary confinement and had access to pen and paper would supply us with whatever we were interested in. Philosophy, the Arts, technical things. You could approach an expert (imprisoned at Leopoldov) accordingly. That’s why secret messages were sent from solitary confinement to communal prison cells and vice versa.”

  • "There were four of them escorting us again. Two in the front and two at the back. They were taking us to the shaft bottom. The path we were on was S-shaped and I took the advantage of one of it’s bends, jumped off the path and squeezed through a gap between the old and new winch. The thing is, that because of the bend in the path, the wardens at the back couldn’t see what was happening in the front and the wardens in the front never looked back. It was risky but it worked in the end. Once I had jumped into that gap I naturally didn’t know what to do next. Just imagine when I got to the gatehouse – a large square shaped building about 15 meters long and 15 meters wide. The doors and windows were fitted and the windows were so enormous that light penetrated the entire building from all sides. The sniper zone was brightly lit up with light so sharp that I felt as though I was naked in front of a crowd of people. What a rush of adrenaline! I decided it was now or never. I wasn’t going to give myself up easily."

  • “We read passages of Luboš Jednorožec's letters that he wrote. They were discovered in Hrusice fifty years after his imprisonment there. The letters were addressed to his friends from the Scouts, Zdeněk Širchán and Jůma, and to his girlfriend Olinka. When Martin Kroupa, the author of the recording, read the letters to Mr. Jednorožec, he asked him whether he knew who had written them. “So you found them, did you? Did I write that?!” Laughs. “I don’t remember that at all! Now that you mentioned the blue-and-yellow flag and all that, those were our emblems. We used to go there!” Who were Širchán and Jům? “Jůme. Well, Širchán was - he’s no longer alive. They’re both dead. Širchán was my deputy. He was a very young boy but very competent and his name was Jan Nedbal. His wife is still alive. She used to take part in our outings later on. She still lives in Dolní Liboc.”

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Skype, Praha-Kalifornie, 12.07.2007

    duration: 08:03:15
    media recorded in project Iron Curtain Stories
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

The sight of clouds freely drifting across the sky always leaves me with a heavy heart

Jednorozec orez.jpg (historic)
Luboš Jednorožec
photo: dobová: z vyšetřovacího svazku StB V-1840 KV, současná: autor Mikuláš Kroupa, ze dne 16.5.2008

Luboš Jednorožec was born May 17, 1925 in Prague-Břevnov. His father Antonín Jednorožec was a builder and his mother Libuše, née. Nygrýnová, was an artist and owner of a leather goods salon. His parents owned a leather workshop, which was confiscated by the communists in 1948 after Luboš’s brother participated in the organisation of the student march to the Prague Castle and subsequently emigrated to Austria. At home, his father often held gatherings for his friends from the Sokol sport’s association. Once, following the events of 1948, a certain Růžena Švestková and several other “members of the resistance movement” otherwise unknown to the family, attended one of the gatherings. They were, in fact, agents of the StB (the secret police). Švestková asked the Sokol members to help her cross the Czechoslovak border. Luboš was twenty-five years old when he was arrested in March 1950 together with his father. He had committed a crime by not having reported Švestková to the authorities. He was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment by a Communist court. Luboš decided to escape from prison no matter what. He did not have to wait long. His chance came in June 1951 in the Svornost mine in Jáchymov. His is one of the most remarkable successful escapes. After nine months on the run, he was caught together with his fiancé during an attempt to illegally cross the border and was sentenced to a total of twenty eight years imprisonment. He was granted amnesty in 1960. He married and in 1964 he and his wife tried to emigrate to the West again. Even this attempt was unsuccessful. They were deported from Yugoslavia and taken to court in Prague. Luboš, as the one who organized the escape, was sentenced to two and a half years of imprisonment. He was released in 1967. He saw the Prague Spring of 1968 as his last chance for emigration. Following a made-up false notification of his brother´s death, he immediately received a passport and went with his family to Vienna, where his brother Ivan was waiting for them. Together they traveled to the USA, where they live today. Luboš returned to Czechoslovakia once after the revolution of 1989, but he lost his leg in a car accident. At present he lives in Fountain Valley near San Francisco. Luboš Jednorožec passed away on November, the 6th, 2016.