Second Lieutenant Gabriel Kocmal

* 1921  †︎ 2012

  • "I’m telling you, we were jumping down from the balloon, because there was no airport there. (What did it look like?) It was like a whale, not round one, but shaped like a whale. Underneath there was a car and a cage for us. (Did you jump from the cage?) Yes. It was our everyday bread. Our troop went up and then down again. Some soldiers used to have a string, when they jumped they pulled the string and it opened their chute. But we have had our own PD6. We jumped from as high as 700, 800 and even 1000 meters. The boys were quivering with fear. It was no fun to go down."

  • "We used to see each other. (General Svoboda?) Yes, sure, every day. He came for a check up and called me Kuliš, instead of Gabriš (unfamiliarly Gabriel-translators note). He always messed up the names. He said: ´I never saw a technical sergeant like you before! ´ He also promoted me to the technical sergeant. I can say that he was strict, very strict, but also very fair. He knew to appreciate one. He was a good man."

  • "We simply made a panic. The Germans didn’t know what was going on. And our troop was free to move forward then. I used to fire the rockets, white or green, as a signal that we have carried out and that we continue further through the front. But there were also the Gypsies and the Carpathian Ruthenia Russians and they were firing at everything that was moving. I didn’t lose anyone there though, but we have had few injuries. As I said, they fired at everything that was moving. The most of our soldiers were wounded by ours not by Germans. (Because they were firing their own soldiers as they were confused?) Yes, of course. No, they were not confused, they were idiots."

  • "We have been ordered to go to the front in Russia. Because the first division was already fighting in Caucasus and they had to back off. So our troop was supposed to be the covering party. We have been in Crimea as guards and the custom service. But they didn’t trust us and we have been called back from Crimea to Militopol town. There we deserted to the Russian side. After that I spent some time at the prisoner camp in Usman."

  • "We went through Polička village to Dubeč by Prague. The Prague was calling for help and we were practicing the defile march. When we arrive to Prague the steps has to be even. We were not allowed to proceed any further just as the Americans weren´t. It was simply designated that the Russian army will liberate Prague."

  • "What I regret the most...There used to be some staff Sgt. named Janko here in Pezinok town. He was the cultural staff sergeant. There used to be one Russian soldier responsible for the education in every troop. (You mean instructor?) No. Not an instructor, but cultural worker. He would tell us where the fights were, how many people died there etc. At that time I held the right wing position by the 3rd troop led by lieutenant Pivoluska - he is already retired general. I called the Russian soldier using the radio station. And this Lt. Pivoluska told him: ´Look, Gabriš (Gabriš=unfamiliarly Gabriel) needs something there.´ So he ran through the front, because I was on the right side and in between there was so called dead angle, where you couldn’t see anything. I needed someone to go there so the Germans wouldn’t surround us. I just needed to send the signal. He went there. He didn’t have to go, but he knew well enough to trust me. He went there and died there. This was the only man I lost there."

  • "When the Slovakian uprising began we were supposed to parachute down to Tri Duby place in Slovakia in order to help the insurgents. But it didn’t happen because...There was some Mr. Ingr, the commander in chief in England. And he decided together with president Beneš that they don’t want Slovakia to be liberated as the first. Why? Because they were already discussing whether the Slovak Republic will be socialistic or capitalist like America. So they just left us there in lurch."

  • "I was always thinking what I would do if I was the enemy before I sent my boys to fight. It always paid off. I haven’t lost one boy. That’s why they liked me. I didn’t avoid the fights; I was hurt three times in fact. I was always going forward. That’s another reason why they liked me. Once when we were in Kiev we were supposed to get rid off the nine snout gun and the battalion commander said: ´volunteers, two steps forward´. All of my squad stepped forward and he just couldn’t believe it."

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    Jemnice, 15.06.2003

    duration: 01:19:52
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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The most important thing is to live in peace. Peace for all nations, no matter what they stand for

Gabriel Kocmal
Gabriel Kocmal

Mr. Gabriel Kocmal was born on May 29th 1921 in Dolní Ořešany village near by Trnava town in a farmer’s family. He attended the local grammar school and then he visited the commercial school for two years. When he was 21 years old he got on with the general military training in Josef Tiso’s army. He underwent a machine-gunner training and attended the Military academy in Pezinok town. He has been included into the 2nd Slovakian division and was employed in Crimea side by side with the German Wehrmacht. After the defensive operation of the Slovakian troops in Melitopol town he deserted to the Russian front and then he was an internee in the cage in Usman town. In January of 1943 he voluntarily entered Czechoslovak army. There he underwent the parachute training in Jefremovo in the USSR. His troop has been prepared for the descent over Slovakia, but after the repression of the Slovakian national uprising they have been included into infantry. The first time Mr. Kocmal was in a combat action was by Kiev town and later he also fought in the Dukla pass. He served as the squad commander of the 4th heavy machine gun troop by the 2nd Slovakian parachute brigade. He has been wounded three times. After his last injury he was sent to the general Ludvík Svoboda HQ as a technical sergeant. With the army he made it all the way to Prague. After the war he remained in the army as a regular soldier and functioned in Bratislava town, Jemnice town or Vyškov town. He attended the Military academy. Then he voluntarily left the army services and worked in a poultry farm in Dačice village until he retired. Gabriel Kocmal passed away on December, 22nd, 2012.