Bronislav Knápek

* 1935  †︎ 2022

  • “There was an organized cooperation with the main tent in Uherský Ostroh, where a school inspector Vítek (Josef Vítek) was working. He was accepting and broadcasting messages for František Bogataj. So there was a secret box here near the chapel in Uherský Ostroh. My sister was bringing messages there, which came here from London, and instructions from Bogataj. At the beginning it was my sister Radoslava, who carried them directly to Ostroh to Víteks and then to the secret chapel box. It must have been kept secret so that Bogataj survived. Apart from that my dad dug up a hole in a wall down the cellar at the transmitter. Behind the wall was a space of about two metres times a meter and twenty centimetres, where sack with flour used to be thrown down. There was an opening from outside. So he masked the hole nicely. He made oak jambs covered with a plaster and a rough cover by concrete same as the surrounding walls. There was a valve and it opened smoothly. Only a string stuck out, which was used to open it by pulling. A cover for a transmitter and possibly Bogataj. We even threw spider webs upon it so it was totally disguised.”

  • “In December 1950, when we were killing a pig in Drozdovská Pila, a man came and said he´s coming from the ‚Dummy‘. The father immediately knew, he is from Bogataj, as that was his nickname. The man gave him a letter from Bogataj and asked him, if he was willing to cooperate with the western intelligence and report to them. Of course my father agreed and so he got a cipher key for the messages and the agent gave him one thousand crowns for expenses. He created two boxes, in which the reports were meant to be put. Later they were arguing in their protocols, that the box was only one, as the agent Vokáč after arrest of the father didn’t know of him. After secret police´ pressure he talked. By today I still don’t know, how it was, when in spring 1951 some men came and introduced themselves, coming from Brno from brush association (secret police – author´s note).”

  • “One night dad came past the turbine, where a concrete gallery was built, ending at the kitchen window. During a spring night in 1951 (1953 – author´s note) someone knocked on a window. There was an entrance from the forests and dad knew every stone in there so he could get right to the house. He knocked and mum of course woke up, so went to have a look and saw dad. She let him in and fed him and gave him food he needed. Dad only took a small pick and a military shovel and left into the woods again, where he made a bunker. One day we came from Fryšták, we met at our sluice. I went as if to check the floodgates, if everything was all right. Meanwhile I saw dad in the woods above me. I ran there to meet him and handed him a lot of food, which I carried hidden at my waistline.”

  • "There was a cast iron furnace behind a stove; such a large cast-iron boiler. Behind it was about a meter space to the wall, where a sloping wooden structure was made and a hatch through it. At the door were two big boxes on top of each other. In them all kinds of junk were stacked up. To the bottom box a hole was cut out, with screws and hinges to open it. It sat on the middle bar and it was not at all obvious that it is to open. There was always something thrown in front of the boxes, so they were well disguised."

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    Velká nad Veličkou, 23.08.2016

    duration: 04:05:59
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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In their house they built a cover, where the father was hiding from the communist justice

Bronislav Knápek - 1960
Bronislav Knápek - 1960
photo: archiv pamětníka

Bronislav Knápek was born on 22 May, 1935 to Jaroslav and Ludmila Knápek in Drozdovská Pila. After occupation of borderland by the Wehrmacht troops his family moved from the area to a secluded house, Žilkuv mlýn, near Velká nad Veličkou. Right since 1940 they joined the resistance movement; helping men get over the border, who wanted to fight the Nazi regime in foreign armies, hiding guns at home, several resistance men and also a leader of a parachuting airdrop Carbon, Cpt. František Bogataj, who got a connection with London using a transmitter Jarmila I. Seventeen years old witness also worked as a connection between František Bogataj and resistance movement. After war the family returned to Drozdovská Pila. But after 1948 people engaged to the Western resistance were persecuted by the communist regime. František Bogataj fled abroad, where he became one of the founding members of the foreign anti-communist movement. Through the agent CIC Václav Vokáč witness´ father asked Jaroslav Knápek for cooperation. He agreed, but on March 27, 1951 secret police arrested him and in September 1951 he was sentenced to ten years in prison. He managed to escape and spent the following seven years and ten months hiding. Most of the time he was supported by the family in a small sophisticated cover in his house in Drozdovská Pila. None of their neighbours knew of him and even after several raids and house searches he was not revealed by the secret police. Only in May 1960 he voluntarily reported himself to state authorities. The following two years he spent in prisons in Mírově, Ilava and Leopoldov, before they released him in the next amnesty in 1962 at the age of sixty four. He lived in Drozdovská Pila for several more years and then moved to his son, Bronislav Knápek, in Velká nad Veličkou.