Mgr. František Kotyz
“A lot of the vehicles didn’t make it, so they had to be towed again and again by Tatra lorries with low loaders. The question is, why did that happen. If we had been going to fight for our country, perhaps they would’ve all made it. But no one knew where we were going, no one told us anything properly. One thing was clear, they were preparing some dirty trick. When we neared the Polish borders, people were gripped with the fear that we’d actually go in. We all sensed it in some way. It’s no problem for the driver to incapacitate a tank in half an hour. All you have to do is shut the louvres, rev the engine up, and the temperature will shoot up to over a hundred degrees and burn the insert washers. The engine gets flooded by coolant and that’s it. The Hungarian FUGs and the Soviet BRDM worked in a similar way. The question stays, what was sabotage and what was deficient machinery. The exception was the Praga V3S, those are indestructible vehicles, they can’t overheat. They have air-cooled motors.”
“We really had no idea what would happen. The situation in Poland was quite hopeful for us, but when you’re wearing a uniform, that’s trouble. It seemed they were actually capable of sending us there. We had several scenarios worked out for that eventuality. The interesting thing is that some people were actually looking forward to going. Back then it was possible to buy goods in Poland that just weren’t available here. One soldier said: ‘When we run out of cigs, we’ll run a tank into a newsagent’s and load up on Marlboros. And we’ll buy Polish girls for “caddies” [KDs - cans].’ But I, because I felt an affection for Poland, I had some friends there - one of them was a sailor in Gdańsk - I reckoned, what will I do if we really do enter Poland? I guess I’ll steal a BVP [infantry fighting vehicle] and go north. I’ll board a ship, I’ll jump on some ship and hide. I had odd ideas like that in those days. I don’t know what would have happened if we had gone in[to Poland].”
“In 1984 I received a summons that I am to come to the army office for an intensive three-day training session. They took us by bus to Bílina. We got out and found ourselves standing in front of an arms depot and being told we’d be issued camo suits. I didn’t want that, so I started organising things there. They’d only sent us an invitation on a postcard, and now they were trying to dress us in camo. An officer ran up and started solving the matter. I told him: ‘If you want to see me in camo, send me a draft notice. Like this and could have but didn’t have to have come. You won’t get me dressed up in camo based on a postcard.’ A few people caught on to me. I shouted an order, we marched off to the gate, where I announced: ‘Write down: Kotyz plus thirty, The Bloody Knuckle pub. And when those hotshots decide whether civvies or camos, send someone to tell us about it.’ The pub’s name was derived from the nearby hospital. You won’t believe it. A helicopter came flying in two hours later. We ran out and saw František Veselý [commander of the Western Military Territory - ed.] come rushing up from the helicopter, shouting at some local officer: ‘Who is this Kotyz?’ So they brought me to him, and he started shouting at me too. To which I said: ‘You’ve got green duds on, but I’m in civvies. And if you want to speak with like that, send me a draft notice.’ ‘You want a draft notice.’ And he issued me one on the spot. Everyone else went home after three days, and I was stuck there for another month.”
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The situation in Poland was quite hopeful for us, but when you’re wearing a uniform, that’s trouble. It seemed they were actually capable of sending us there.
František Kotyz was born on 19 February 1956 in Hradec Králové. When the Scouting Movement was renewed in 1968, he was accepted into the 6th Troop, “Wolf Pack”. In 1980 he graduated from hydrogeology at the Faculty of Natural Sciences of Charles University. In September that year he began his compulsory military service, and in December he participated in the Krkonoše 1980 field exercise. After being released from the army in September 1981, he started working as a mine hydrogeologist at the uranium mines in Stráž pod Ralskem. In November 1989 he took part in demonstrations against the regime. In the years 1997 to 2014 he worked at Ochrana podzemních vod (Groundwater Protection), in 2015 he switched to SG geoprůzkum (SG Geo-Survey).