Oldřich Kalousek

* 1933  

  • “We weren’t there to shoot people - as one good man said it, a long time ago... so I talked him out of it - to shoot people like rabbits. When there was a breach, every breach was a so-called extraordinary event. These extraordinary events were perfectly mapped and documented. It wasn’t that, as one good man said: ‘They were shooting people left, right and centre.’ Nonsense! An extraordinary event was when there was a breach or a detention, whether anyone was detained or not, whether weapons were used or not, it was always documented as an extraordinary event.”

  • “As far as the movement of people was concerned: for those who lived in the border zone it was no problem, if someone wanted to come visit them, they received a permit for the date, hour and place they wanted to go to, say to their relatives. We checked them just the same as any other citizen. It’s true that as far as the forbidden zone was concerned, as I said before, that was clear, as soon as anyone was in the forbidden zone, he was treated as a violator of the state border.” (Q: “That was three kilometres away from the state border?”) “That was less even, it varied depending on the terrain.”

  • “Except that the nearer it got, and especially as we had had our service extended three months extra, I convinced myself all the more that I would not sign. Even though in my file I had: The uniform suits me nicely, I am a soldier body and soul. As with other things in life, I simply tried to do it honestly and properly. I guess that’s why things ended up how they did, why I ended up choosing my craft instead.”

  • “Most people think it was the border that was guarded, the actual border. The actual border was not guarded.” (Q:“Please explain what you mean by that.”) “They created a so-called border zone, that was a section of land about 30 to 40 kilometres perpendicular to the state border, but it varied depending on the terrain. That was marked with signs: ‘Warning, border zone, authorised entry only’. There were people who lived in the border zone, they had it written in their ID card, and that actually served as a permission to enter the border zone.”

  • “The so-called forbidden zone was another matter altogether. There were signs there, the signs marked in black, the forbidden zone had the same big signs marked in red, and they had on them: Warning, forbidden zone, all entry forbidden. The forbidden zone was created precisely so as to give the Border Guard space to manoeuvre, and mainly for when shots were fired, to keep to international regulations, that is that bullets were not allowed to land on foreign soil, all this was upheld.”

  • Full recordings
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    Neděliště, 04.01.2014

    duration: 01:49:41
    media recorded in project Iron Curtain Stories
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We weren’t there to shoot people like rabbits

Oldřich Kalousek 2014
Oldřich Kalousek 2014
photo: foto Martin Reichl

Oldřich Kalousek was born on 10 August 1933 in Rosnice, a village that is now a part of Všestary near Hradec Králové. His father died in 1940. The family, which included a second son, was sustained by his mother, who served in a farmer’s family. In the years 1948-51 Oldřich Kalousek trained to be a mechanic at Škoda Hradec Králové, he later specialised as a boilermaker and improved his education by attending evening classes at a secondary technical school. The company then sent him on an assembly job to the Polish People’s Republic. In October 1953 he began basic military service with the Border Guards. He attended a school for NCOs in Volary and then served with a front line company in České Žleby, Kašperské Hory, at Plešné Lake, and at Třístoličník. He held the position of assistant company commander for political matters. He completed his compulsory military service of 27 months in January 1956 with the rank of Sergeant, he did not take up the offer to stay with the Border Guards. He returned to his job at Škoda in Hradec Králové, where he worked as head of production until 1989. He lives in Neděliště near Hradec Králové.