Jiří Karabel

* 1938  

  • “What I remember from Svatobořice is that when we went outside of the camp, we walked in formation and accompanied by SS men and SS women. One time an SS woman hit me in my head with a stone. Something made her angry, and all the children in front of me ducked, and I didn’t make it. She hit me, and I got an infection in the wound. Dr. Jirka, another prisoner, then treated me there and he said that I would not have a single hair on my head. I had my head all bandaged and they tried to comfort me by saying that I looked like a pilot…”

  • “When the assassination of Heydrich was carried out, my parents were involved in it as well. Kubiš, one of the assassins, was wounded, he had a laceration of his eyebrow. Dr. Lyčka from Prague treated him, and when everything became known, Lyčka then had to run away from Prague. My dad provided a hiding place for him in the pub in Srbice and then the day after he led him to nearby Ouběnice at night. Some woman –- a Gestapo confidante – then informed the Gestapo about all this and they arrested all of them. They arrived for my dad and I remained alone with my mom.”

  • “But they taught us, I don’t know how. We cried that we wanted to go home, but on the other hand – dad and mom, I was not expecting them. I don’t know how they persuaded us, but they certainly did have some pedagogical feeling. I did not expect to meet my parents. I already had my ‘parents’ in Planá – they completely erased this notion of parents from our minds. Or at least to me, as the youngest one, they certainly did.”

  • “We stopped. I didn’t know what was happening. They arrested mom, and I remember that she walked up some stairs and she had a dark suit, and she walked between two Gestapo men. They made us get into a bus and I was looking at it through the bus window. That was the last time I saw my mom. The bus then moved forward and we drove to Jenerálka.”

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    Karlovy Vary - u pamětníka, 08.10.2011

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    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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    byt pamětníka Karlovy Vary, 20.04.2015

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    media recorded in project The Stories of Our Neigbours
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The assassination of Heydrich was an enormous act of resistance, although I have paid dearly for it

Karabel František and Jarmila, wedding photo
Karabel František and Jarmila, wedding photo
photo: archiv Jaroslava Čvančary

Jiří Karabel was born February 16, 1938 in Votice. He grew up in the house which belonged to his mother’s family. His father alternately worked in a pub and in a cabinet-maker’s shop. Jiří’s father was actively involved in the resistance group Jindra during World War Two, which operated in the Benešov region and whose members were mostly members of the Sokol organization. A wave of arrests started after the assassination of Heydrich. At that time the family provided a place to spend the night to Břetislav Lyčka, another member of the resistance movement, and Jiří’s father then accompanied Lyčka to another contact address to cabinet-maker Ludvík Vaněk in Ouběnice. Jiří’s father was arrested as the first of them, and Jiří’s mother and Jiří himself were then arrested in August 1942. Jiří Karabel subsequently stayed in Jenerálka and in Svatobořice with other so-called Svatobořice children who were interned there by the Nazis. His parents were murdered in the concentration camp Mauthausen. Jiří and the other children were then liberated at the end of the war in a camp in Planá nad Lužnicí. Afterwards he stayed briefly with his cousins and then he had two possible options - either to stay with his grandmother in Votice or to live with his uncle in Prague. Jiří eventually remained in Votice and he studied a secondary technical school of mechanical engineering in Tábor. Shortly after completing his studies he moved to Karlovy Vary where he has been living with his wife ever since. Together they raised two children. Jiří worked in the Civil Engineering Company and also as a constructor in uranium mines. In spite of his difficult fate as an orphan he says that he is actually reaping the rewards now when he is able to happily enjoy his retirement.