staff sergeant (ret.) Jiří Kadeřábek

* 1926

  • "They were paying attention, and when they saw that the German was moving out, they just shot. So that those who were attacking could get closer through the trenches, so that they would be protected. So we go closer and closer, and the Germans were probably already scared, so maybe when we attacked they weren't even there. So they just got scared and retreated. So we managed to take that height. But what I want to say - the company commander, he was next to me, it wasn't even five meters, suddenly he raises his head and says in Russian [says - author's note]. Do you know any Russian? [He said]: 'Proščatsja rodyna nykuda ne umyrajet.' He was a fine man, a lieutenant, about fifty years old. You see how devoted they were: 'I say goodbye to you, wife, mother or whatever, I say goodbye to you, Fatherland.'"

  • "[They called - author's note] into the army those years that were conscripted. I was seventeen at the time - and they were already drafting. So all my friends got summonses, and I got one too, but in the end the military administration told me: 'No, you have to wait, we will send you to Svoboda's army.' So I waited - and nothing happened. And my friends were already leaving, and I felt really bad."

  • "[I even have - author's note] a letter of thanks for the excellent performance of combat activities during the liberation of Danzig. That was in March. I forgot to tell you something else. In December, it was about the beginning of December, I was wounded just at the fighting at Warsaw. It was sort of from the right of Warsaw, from the course of the Vistula River [ which leads - author's note] to Gdańsk. I was in a field hospital for two months, because it was not very serious. For two months [I was in hospital - author's note]."

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Praha 9, 16.12.2016

    duration: 01:38:04
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
  • 2

    Praha 9, 12.12.2017

    duration: 02:20:20
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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I was very lucky, a lot of soldiers didn’t come back

Jiri Kaderabek, historical photograph
Jiri Kaderabek, historical photograph
photo: Archiv Jiřího Kadeřábka

Lieutenant v.v. Jiri Kadeřábek was born on 28 September 1926 in Kyiv, Soviet Ukraine, into a Czech family. Father Josef Kadeřábek was a Russian Legionnaire who remained in Kyiv after 1918, while mother Karolína came from Dubno from the Volhynian Czech community. He spent his childhood in Kyiv, where he also attended the municipal school. During the Nazi occupation of Ukraine he studied in an industrial school. He witnessed the massacre of Jewish residents in the Babyn Yar ravine in September 1941. After the liberation of Kyiv, he voluntarily joined the Red Army on November 16, 1943. He first served briefly at Zhytomyr and then underwent training, during which he reached Siberia with a special task force (to guard possible deserters). He then served in the Red Army as a machine-gunner in the 2nd Belarusian Front, 162nd Division and 224th Rifle Regiment and fought at Torun, along the Vistula River and near Warsaw, where he suffered an elbow wound on 23 December 1944. He was then treated in field hospitals for two months and then was in a reserve regiment in Kyiv. Coincidentally, he returned directly to his unit and subsequently fought in Danzig, Gdynia and Sopot, advancing through Polish territory until he was wounded in the leg near Frankfurt/Oder on 21 April 1945. He was thus again treated in field hospitals and subsequently transported to the town of Chita on Lake Baikal. On 10 September 1946 he returned to Kyiv, but was then conscripted into the Red Army. In August 1946 he demobilized and on May 19, 1947 he re-emigrated to Czechoslovakia. On arrival, he looked for work and was recommended by the Ministry of Defence to work in the uranium mines. For twelve years he worked in Horní Slavkov, Trutnov, Bytíz and elsewhere. In 1968 he graduated from the Faculty of Law of Charles University and subsequently worked at the uranium committee. In retirement he was still employed at the Ministry of Fuel and Energy. He was married twice and lived in Prague at the time of filming (2016).