Břetislav Kašpar

* 1921  †︎ 2013

  • "When they imprisoned my brother, I kept telling him one thing when I visited him time to time. He was in Jáchymov and I visited him on several occasions. I wanted him to be judged as a Frenchman, because he was sent to forced labour as a Frenchman. And I insisted to his wife, that if he would be judged as a Frenchman, they could convict him of espionage at most. But he was obstinate, he was a Czech! And as a Czech, he wouldn't let... Treason and high treason - so they sentenced him to fifteen years. I got him his papers from France, a court-approved certificate, everything. He refused. He was a Czech."

  • "That was quite a big town in the forests. And in the day it belonged to us and in the night it belonged to the Germans. One time it happened this parachutist landed, he saw the partisans and ran towards them with his hands up, speaking English. Only no one understood him, obviously, but they took this supposed American to headquarters. They couldn't talk with him, because no one spoke English, but we had this Belgian chap in our partisan group, what was his name, I don't know. He was great bloke, a former Belgian sailor, he used to sail ships and he could speak English. So they called him to the parachutist and the parachutist told him that he didn't speak proper English, that it was American English, but he didn't even understand American slang. And this Belgian really didn't like Germans, he felt something was wrong, so he jumped the man and tore off his jumpsuit, and it turned out he was a German officer, an SS man. Well, and you can imagine what they must have done with him. Me, I wasn't interested in that. I was above executions, I had seen enough of them, collaborators and such, I didn't like that."

  • "My parents couldn't find any work after the first World War, so some men came to Czechoslovakia recruiting for work and my parents moved to France, together with others, to get a job. So we got there in 1923 I guess, so I was a year and a half old. They asked around for a place in a glassworks, as my parents were from a glassworking family, and I also learnt the craft while in France. And that's what I did until the end, until my retirement."

  • "A group of Germans remained in Dunkirk, and there were the Allied forces there. I came round through Belgium to La Panne, which was on the Belgian side. We had Canadians on one flank and Englishmen on the other. And the Germans had what were called by the English as 'booby traps,' doors rigged with explosives and stuff like that. We lived in bunkers that the Germans had built there, and we kept watch. And we didn't do anything else there, just from time to time someone gave an order and everyone started blasting the blue out of the sky, from all sides, machine gunners wherever they were. And suddenly an announcement came. Well, it wasn't all that sudden, that's just what it seemed like, but anyway after some time the cease-fire came about. The war was over. We stayed there another two or three days - where we had our firing post, which was among the dunes, just dunes. And we found out that the Germans were less than a hundred metres away from our position! But they were hidden so well, that you couldn't see them anywhere at all during the day. So we were watching them, as you can imagine, because it was the end of the war! They were jumping up and down as well, waving their hands. And we were waving back at them, but they stayed behind while we were ordered away. Because Prague was already calling for help at the time."

  • "And there was this lieutenant there at the time, I can't remember what his name was, it's more than eighty years ago (sixty in fact - transl.), Bartoš or Bartoň or something like that, and he contacted our group. He asked us to gather up in Bordeaux, that there was some international organization there, that we could try to get the Czechs that were placed - under the false assumption that they were Germans - in prison camps in France, that we could try to get them out of there. I could show you that we were just two men charged with this, me and one Karel Kyršdorf. Well, we didn't quite manage it in a week, but the French were fairly forthcoming, so we got about eighty of them out, eighty Czechs."

  • "The first Czech town they told us we could be greeted in, where there were Czechs, was Stříbro, I remember that. There were pretty girls there. So we thought, look, Czech girls at last, so we started making their acquaintance: 'Give me a kiss?' - 'Ich verstehe nicht, ich verstehe nicht.' The girls were all German!"

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    Lenora, 14.12.2004

    duration: 02:10:53
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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I had a brother-in-law, a German from České Budějovice, he served with the Wehrmacht in Norway. We never had an argument about that. A better man I have not seen. He spoke perfect Czech.

kaspar_bretislav1.jpg (historic)
Břetislav Kašpar

Břetislav Kašpar was born in Moravian Wallachia. His parents were unable to find a job during the 20s, and so in 1923 they moved, together with other Czech families, to France to work there instead. Břetislav Kašpar, who’s father was a glassworker, also became a glass worker and worked at a glassworks business his whole life. His parents found work in southwestern France in the town of Vianne. They received French citizenship, as did Břetislav Kašpar. During the war, he was drafted into the French forces of the Vichy regime, and so he joined the partisans - the Maquis. And in the end, he left for Britain and entered a Czechoslovak infantry unit. He took part in the fighting at Dunkirk. After the war, he returned to his work in the French glassworks. Yet when his father decided a few months later to remigrate to his homeland, Kaspar,as his son, followed. Kašpar Sr., the father, got a place in the glassworks in Lenora, and his son Břetislav settled down there, too. He found a wife there, started a family, and lives there to this day. His parents went back to France after a while, and his brother was convicted and imprisoned in Jáchymov. Břetislav Kašpar continued working at the glassworks in Lenora. Following 1968, he was able to visit his parents in France several times. He died on December 2013.