Krunoslav Keteleš

* 1972  

  • “That was the beginning of all madness. And I was blessed in disguise to sign in. They knew my father was a cameraman. They told me: ‚You also look in the camera, you can shoot, so you will aim at aircrafts.‘ Off I went. Originally I wanted to join the marines, but then suddenly there was no sea, no marine forces were needed, but antiaircraft defence. So they sent me to a specialisation, to shoot from my shoulder, mobile missiles called missile 2M. And actually after that, when I came back, they sent to a small hill above Peljesac so that I could see the sea. On my left I could almost see Dubrovnik, and Neum on right. And I was supposed to wait until an aircraft flies over. And shoot it down in case it was not ours. But back then no aircraft were flying at all. So I was just sitting there up on a hill looking at the sea, sweating in my boots and uniform.”

  • “When I figured it was not a normal army service, which is usually pretty easy to cope with, you go home for two weeks and then return and do as they say again, well this was not the case, it was war. And at that moment you become a mercenary rather than a soldier. When they sent us to the front, there were stories amongst people, fairy tales about masked special Croatian units coming at night cutting young boys´ throats. They simply try to paint an image of an enemy, so that you start to fear to defend yourself or fight again someone. As the shooting began and tanks started to run, then one began to fear for real. You feared something will shoot you and you will be dead. That is the kind of fear almost crippling; you are not able to think, nor walk, nothing at all. What do you do? It is war and you cannot do anything on your own. But that lasted, I don’t know, three of four days, weeks. Then it is over. And you stop walking in a crouching way, stop wearing the helmet, stop watching and listening to every sound, because it would have made you just crazy, and you resign.”

  • “Actually until the unfortunate war broke out in Yugoslavia no one felt people speaking different languages or comes from a different cultural environment. I had friends and didn’t even know their nationality. There were Slovaks, Hungarians, Serbs, Macedonians, and Albanians, everything possible. Already at the elementary school they had different colour of skin and religion, but no one cared they were different. I went to the military service in 1991, when the war broke out. (...) In the world they kind of knew something is about to happen. But I lived in Vojvodina, which was multicultural and we still didn’t believe it. Still nobody admitted that something like this could happen. So I went to the obligatory military service saying to myself: ‚I will never flee anywhere, not to America or Australia.‘ We had a family over in Australia, our aunt sent us an air plane ticket, that I should be clever and fly over there, as she got a place to accommodate me, that they´d take care of everything. And I said: ‚Well all my friends are joining the army and so will I. Others survived so I will do as well.‘ Serving in the army took place four hundred kilometres away from Nový Sad in the current Bosna and Hercegovina, in the town named Trebinje, I already figured something was happening as most of the higher ranked soldiers were from Monte Negro, the Serbs and they started dividing us according to a kind of political doctrine, by our names, colour of skin, they guessed who may be Muslim or Croat. One had to be careful, what to say to whom, who he was, where he comes from and whom he believes.”

  • Full recordings
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    Ostrava, 31.10.2016

    (audio)
    duration: 01:12:18
    media recorded in project Silesia: Memory of multiethnic Region
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

The war in Yugoslavia scared our whole generation

Photo after arrival back to the CR
Photo after arrival back to the CR
photo: archiv pamětníka

Krunoslav Keteleš was born on 19 February, 1972 in Vukovar in Croatia and comes from a Ruthenian family. He studied secondary school of agriculture and several terms of veterinary school at the high school. In 1991, when the war broke out in former Yugoslavia, he was just conducting an obligatory military service. As a soldier of the former Yugoslavian army he was sent to guard the Peljesac peninsula and his task was to shoot down airplanes. He deserted the army as he could not bear to join the growing fights and being a Croat he felt oppressed by Serbian lieutenants. With his father, mother and sister they left to the Czech republic in 1992 to stay with a family in Ostrava, they made friends in past. Although they had a place to stay and wanted to find jobs, they were still sent to refuge camp. Only after difficult negotiations they managed to get away. They settled down in Ostrava. The witness first worked as an attendant at the zoo and later he found work as a cameraman same as his father Miroslav. Today he works for the Czech television. He is an author of a documentary movie called Back then in Balkan, which deals with the effects of war in former Yugoslavia. He found his wife in CR and has two children. During war he lost several close family relatives.