Captain (ret.) Jiřina Kopoldová, rozená Švermová

* 1923  †︎ 2009

  • “I was born in a family of prewar functionaries of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia. I was growing up in the First Republic era, and obviously influenced by my parents’ work. However in 1938, after the Munich Treaty had been signed, it was clear what fate awaited our republic; my parents were well-known for their antifascist activity, especially my father, who was a communist deputy in the parliament and the editor-in-chief of the Red Right newspaper, and very active in opposing our officials in the Sudetenland and the German fascists, and it was clear to us that he was now in danger. Therefore it was decided that he would emigrate to the Soviet Union. It was at the time when it was still possible to leave the country normally, and two months later, Mom and I followed him. This was also done legally. Thus my leaving the country was not that dramatic. We arrived to Moscow and settled there and my parents worked there. My Mom worked in a radio broadcast for some time, this was a broadcast for Czechoslovakia, or actually the Protectorate, and father worked in the Communist Party headquarters there. I was going to school, when I left home I was in the fifth grade of grammar school, and in the Soviet school in Moscow I began attending the eighth grade. I became friends with my classmates, I learnt Russian, and gradually I managed to learn everything; in math, physics, and chemistry it was comparable to what we had been studying at my grammar school. Russian was obviously difficult, and so was geography, because I had to learn the geography of the entire great Soviet Union. This was my first oral exam, the teacher tested me thoroughly on all geography topics, but I’ve managed it all.”

  • “That was already at the border, in Barwinek, where we began working in relatively better conditions, and I was appointed an assistant of the radio centre commander, at that time it was David Štajner, and I became his deputy. My task was to check all radio stations controlled by our corps, and this corps was quite big, there were many radio stations there, and I was to make sure that they all functioned. My task was thus to visit all these stations, findout what was needed, what difficulties they had, and when I was on duty, mainly at nights I was walking around the staff, where the radio stations were placed, it was mostly in trenches, and there was an awful lot of mud, and my task was to ensure that the connection worked.”

  • “We were assigned our positions. Since I could speak Russian quite well and our unit was communicating with the Red Army units at that time and it was necessary to know Russian well, I and my friend were assigned to serve in the staff. We were not too happy about it, though, because we had imagined that our duty in the unit would be different. Therefore we tried to get transferred somewhere else. We managed it only before Kiev. My friend Věrka left to serve as a nurse, because she was a nurse, originally, and I got to the signaling unit, among radio operators. From Kiev onwards I served in the radio unit in the signalling troop under the command of general Šmoldas. That’s where my regular duty as a signaller in the radio unit began. There were three of us and we operated one radio station, we took turns. We were on duty either for 125 hours, or as needed, depending on the situation. Our station was assigned to the staff of the 1st brigade, and we were thus providing connection between our units, the battalions and other subsidiary units.”

  • “From Ufa I returned to Moscow, and when the situation somewhat improved, I began studying a university, but at that time I already knew that the Czechoslovak unit was being organized, that they had taken part in the first fighting for Sokolovo. From that time I was already determined to apply as well, because at that time it was already clear to me that for a young person, and especially in the place where I lived, among young Soviet people, the only possible decision in your life was go to the front and fight, because upon this depended whether we would live as honest, normal and free citizens, or whether Hitler would come upon us and our lives would end there. Thus I applied to join the Czechoslovak army unit, we went there together with my friend Věrka Tichá, I already told you that, and we arrived to Novochopersk. Therefore I didn’t take part in the first fight at Sokolovo, I only read about it in a Soviet newspaper. This was also one of the reason that sped up my decision to apply as well.”

  • “The worst section was Machnówka. Machnówka took place on September 9, I even recorded it here with an exclamation mark. (J. K. reads from her diary: »Today, my friend Mánička and me were lucky. At daybreak they ordered all of us, the infantry artillery, the 1st brigade and part of the 3rd brigade to position ourselves around one village. The Germans could see us well and they began firing mines at us. One of them fell into the house, inside which I was just cooking potatoes with Mánička. We ran out, and as soon as we crouched down by the wall of the barn, the second and third mine came. There were many wounded. We were bandaging them for as long as we had bandages. Three of our girls were wounded, and Věruška suffered a light injury. Our infantry was also hit hard. All day long they have been bringing in the wounded, and the first-aid station staff don’t know how to handle them any more. There are so many of them.«) Speaking of this 9th September, it really was a critical section, not only for our artillery regiment, but for the 1st and 3rd brigade as well, because many troops were assembled in a close space, which was very easy to see for the Germans, who had fortifications on the surrounding hills, which they had built there before. They could see us clearly and they caused great losses to our troops. There were several girls in our artillery regiment at that time, we had trained them, there were radio and telephone operators, but unfortunately, two of these girls were severely wounded and both of them died. They were Ljuba Mrázková and Růženka Tamchynová.”

  • Full recordings
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    Praha, 12.02.2002

    duration: 29:06
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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It often happened that when our unit was on the move, our station would be putting all the units together. Sometimes one even felt to be important.

Jiřina Kopoldová
Jiřina Kopoldová

  Jiřina Kopoldová is the daughter of Jan and Marie Šverma. After the Munich Treaty this family of a communist politician emigrated to the USSR, where Jiřina attended secondary school. In 1941 the family was evacuated to Ufa, and after the establishment of the Czechoslovak unit Jiřina Kopoldová applied to join it (she joined at Novochopersk). She served as a telephone operator (Kiev, Dukla), and she experienced the end of the war as a political officer (second lieutenant, today a captain). In the political department she met Bedřich Kopold. After the war she worked in the army radio station for half a year, and then she studied chemistry at the Faculty of Natural Sciences. In 1951-1952 after her husband’s arrest, she was interned with both her children; after her release she worked as a chemist in the company laboratory in the Tiba factory. After the rehabilitation of her husband and mother she worked in the biology institute of the Academy of Sciences (Candidate of Sciences). She published in academic journals, after her retirement she devoted her time to the topic of women in combat for the liberation of Czechoslovakia: she wrote a book Women Fighting (1992), and with her husband she edited a book about Jan Šverma, a memoir written by her mother, and she also published works about her fellow fighters. Her children are son Jan (died 1970) and daughter Bedřiška.