generálporučík Jaroslav Klemeš

* 1922  †︎ 2017

  • “The situation in the “Little house” was the worst of all. You were only allowed to sit or walk. At night you could not keep your hands under the blanket, they were continually checking upon us through a peephole. I walked all the time, one, two, three, four, five, and I was thinking about all the possible things they could do to us. I believed they would transport us somewhere to Siberia. I was thinking how to prepare for Siberia. Such crazy thoughts I had. (...) One was thinking about one's family. You become tired by walking in your cell; we were not allowed to go outside. You could not go near the window. If you did not obey, they shut you in such a small dark shed. It seemed like a henhouse, or a goat sty. A dark room where you could not move. There was only darkness inside.”

  • “So already in England I was in touch with the telegraph operator who was to send the [messages] because we needed to be able to identify each other according to the signal, the tapping, how each of us codes, whether it’s the right operator, because every telegraph operator has his own style, so you can tell; and then when we were looking for it among those short-wave stations, because there were lots of them during the war, crammed one next to the other, and it was important to get acquainted with the station that you were to correspond with.”

  • “I was still a young boy in 1938, there was no television yet, so we eagerly listened to the news of these events on the radio; we literally lived by it. We were brought up in great respect for our homeland. It was only a few years after, so the feeling was still very fresh. We were grateful to have our own republic. Flags were hanging everywhere, on all buildings, everybody felt proud. That was the way we had been educated, in schools, in the Sokol movement. (...) Then came the Munich conference, which was a terrible blow to us. This was also why we later left the country. (...) The German army held training drills on the market square. We were enraged when we saw the German voracity. Food was expensive in Germany, but you got ten Czech crowns for just one German mark. It used to be four or six crowns before. A German soldier would come to a confectioner’s shop and get ten cakes for just one German mark. We hated the way they laughed, drank, and looked at the girls. It always made us furious. So this was one impulse that made us go fight against them. A friend of mine once tore down a Hitler’s portrait from the wall, and he was imprisoned by (Slovak) guards for that. We were bringing him food through a small window of the jailhouse.”

  • “We were the only group to take the jump that night and to come to the address that same night, but he didn’t take us in, so we had to continue. But what happened, what messed it up for us - a dog started barking, then a second one joined in, a third, they had these big dogs there, and they all started barking; it was always completely calm by the forest, no one went there, it was quiet, and now such a racket, it was clear that something was going on out there. Windows lit up and people started peering out to see what was going on to make the dogs bark so much. Then we found our man and he didn’t let us in, he was scared, we tried the password, but he was scared and he said to come in the morning, he was scared, afraid that the people looking out from the houses would see some people by his place, and so he was scared to let us in and we couldn’t wait there, so we went away.”

  • “I thought they would dismiss us from the army; it was obvious this was going to happen, that they would say he does not fit into our politics anymore. I never imagined they would imprison us, that they would try to humiliate us at all costs, to lock us up and to liquidate us. I was taken by surprise, I thought, all right, they will kick me out, I will find another job instead. This was what they told us: ´We cannot let you walk freely. Do not think that we will release you or apologize to you.´ Even though they had no evidence against us.”

  • “We had one major disadvantage compared to the French: in case of our capture, matters would be much worse for us; they would not consider us prisoners of war, but traitors, since we came from the Protectorate. Our situation was a lot worse. Everyting was broken, we had to walk. The fatigue was enormous, we were falling asleep while marching; we marched to the south. There would be a break for some two hours, but then we had to march on, even at nights. It could happen that if one fell asleep a little further away, he might lose his unit. This also happened to my friend Čambala, when we had a rest break. He found a place to sleep in some barn, and we lost him. I was terribly sad, because he was a friend of mine; we had escaped the country together. Fortunately, he found us after three or four days, riding a bike to catch upon us. When he had woken up, he looked for us, and he eventually reached us on a bike. I was overjoyed to see him again; I felt responsible for him, for I was the one who initiated our emigration; moreover, Čambala was a year younger than me.”

  • “They also taught us that love at school, they showed us the legionaries of the first world war, and they taught us that we should love our republic and that, when it becomes necessary, we should actually do something for it. And when the political situation came with the Germans preparing for war, taking Austria, we wanted to know what would be next, because it was clear that they were preparing for war and that there were attacks on our republic. We were really sorry about it. We took a bg interest in it, but as young boys we couldn’t do anything at all, but when the Germans took our border regions, I saw he mobilisation, I saw our boys who were called up into the army, how everyone accompanied them to the station and telling them to defend our country, all the parents, the girls, it was so merry, and they wanted to defend our country. And we wished it would work out okay for us, but after Munich [the Munich Agreement - transl.], when we had to fall back and they had to return, I saw how these soldiers came back with tears in their eyes that they weren’t able to do anything, that they had to give up their weapons, leave everything where it was and go. They really had tears in their eyes, and they came back terribly disappointed that our defences, which were in the border regions, had to be handed over. We were all truly very sad about it.”

  • “The night before the air-landing we joked with the (Polish) crew. ´So you will bring us back in the morning again, won’t you?´ ´No, no, no, we will air-land you exactly on the spot.´ (...) There was snow. All of a sudden they woke us up, they opened the door. We were jumping through such openings in the fuselage. And we see that this time it is going to be for real. Everything was white, except the forests; the sun was probably shining the day before, so all the snow on the trees melted away. You could see the black forests and white snowy fields perfectly. We made an ideal jump, quite precisely, onto the field. A perfect jump. Sometimes it happened that when one was a little hesitant when leaving the plane, the paratroopers then had to look for each other after landing. It was difficult to reassemble again, you could not shout and cry, it caused great trouble for them.”

  • “We practiced making contact with the airplane. They would tell us: ´To make it look real for you, we will go to some other place tomorrow.´ We went to a place about fifty kilometres away. At a given moment we were to turn on the Eureka. When the plane is flying above you, it will light up its position lights. Eureka was an apparatus we used, such a metal box, with a transmitter. The airplane was equipped with a similar device called Rebeka. We had to turn it on at a certain moment. We would wait there till the airplane turned on its position lights to indicate that it had found our signal. Knowing our direction and distance, the plane had to be able locate us. (...) But this was only training. Two times I experienced it for real, I was there twice. The third time me and Nechanský went to Prague to support the Prague Uprising. We had many of our people there, since lots of material was being dropped down. It needed to be taken away by morning; you could not leave it there and wait for the Germans to find it. Up to eighty, ninety persons, it was extremely dangerous. There had to be patrols, to watch for cars passing by, and people to mark the path, and people to carry it, above all.”

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    Ústí nad Labem, 08.06.2004

    duration: 02:06:56
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
  • 2

    Ústřední vojenská nemocnice, 03.10.2013

    duration: 03:36:16
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th Century TV
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I never imagined they would imprison us, that they would try to humiliate us at all costs, to lock us up and to liquidate us

klemes dobovy orez 2.jpg (historic)
generálporučík Jaroslav Klemeš

Jaroslav Klemeš was one of the last living Czechoslovak paratroopers who were members of the landing-party to the Protectorate territory. He was born to Czech parents in 1922 in Čadca in Slovakia. After the declaration of the independent Slovak State they had to return to Moravia. In January 1940 Jaroslav Klemeš crossed the border to Hungary; via the Balkan way through Syria he eventually got to France. There, he served in a signalling troop in 1940. After the defeat of France he went to Great Britain. Since 1942 he was being trained as a paratrooper for the prepared air-landing operation to the Protectorate. On February 17th 1945 he was airlifted to Czechoslovakia as part of the operation Platinum and landed near Nasavrky. In 1945 Mr. Klemeš was decorated with the Czechoslovak War Cross; he remained in the army and became an officer. In 1949 he was dismissed from the army and interrogated in the “Little house” in Hradčany for about 15 months. He was sentenced to two years. Mr. Klemeš was rehabilitated in 1968, he now lives in Ústí nad Labem. Jaroslav Klemeš passed away on August, the 7th, 2017.