Josef Kaufman

* 1926  

  • “We didn’t have any reading books, but we received the Party statutes. And there were plenty of those, and plenty of newspapers. When we finished the Polish jotters we had - there was a bit of Polish there, and then we went on and wrote Russian homework there. You went on like there was nothing the matter. Our teacher couldn’t speak Russian, but whatever he learnt - by the morning - he taught us the next day.”

  • “The Germans closed down the mill. If you fed with grain, that was trouble. If you fed with middlings, that was touble. And yet they needed meat, for you to deliver your quotas. We had to have something to deliver. Then they ordered us to grow tobacco. If you didn’t have a field, you had to go scrape these bushes... the bark of these bushes, which they used to make something... against lice... the soldiers suffered from lice all through the war... To this day I say when someone has an idea for some agreement that leads to a war, they should go and try living among the lice in the trenches for a fortnight, and they’d be cured of that desire.”

  • “It all exploded. Everything! Other units had their cars set up there as well. Some of it - the shells - blew up on the branches, some fell on the ground, blasting sleeves and cloaks on to the boughs of the trees. Oh, they mashed us up proper. I looked for some place to hide. Then I saw the staff sergeant there, the one who’d trained us. We had a different commander then, he wasn’t training us, but he didn’t pay any attention to me, I could just see the horror in his eyes - and he was a seasoned soldier, from Russia. I didn’t know what to do, so I just threw myself under one of the cars - a Dodge - it was abandoned there, the soldiers were gone, so I jumped underneath it and waited a bit. Then when it stopped for a moment, I climbed out and started calling for people. ‘Do you know where those guys are?’ ‘I guess they went to that village over there,’ someone told me. So I rushed off to the village. And the shells kept coming. The village was across the river. I waded through it - the level was quite low, but I waded through it. I came there: ‘No, no, we’re a different unit, no one else came here lately.’ So back I went to carry on my search under fire.”

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    Kadaň, 22.11.2017

    duration: 03:09:17
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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If I let you escape, they’ll shoot me - and if I shoot you, they’ll tell me off, so what a choice

Josef Kaufman
Josef Kaufman
photo: archiv pamětníka

Josef Kaufman was born on 14 November 1926 in the village of Leduchówka, which lies near Lutsk in Volhynia, in present-day Ukraine. In 1939 the territory, under Polish rule, was occupied by the Russians. Kolkhozes were established, and the witness’s parents were forced to join as well. Two years later the region was seized by the Nazis, and Josef Kaufman experienced another period of persecution, marked by frequent raids by the Banderites. In 1944 he joined the 1st Czechoslovak Army Corps. After being sped through boot camp, he participated in the operations at Machnovka, Dukla, and the siege of Liptovský Mikuláš. On 28 April 1945 he was wounded and taken to hospital. After the war he moved to Czechoslovakia. He founded a hobby group with other Volhynian Czechs. In the 1950s he witnessed another period of collectivisation, this time in Czechoslovakia. In 1953 he sold his farm and stopped working on his own estate. He was employed in agriculture until his retirement.