Ladislav Kovařík

* 1926

  • “We were chosen to dig up trenches. Those were anti-tank, deep, about three or four-metre-deep trenches.” "And it was in Zlín?" “No, it was the stage Valašské Meziříčí, there were different stages, you know, the Germans were consistent.” "And in which year was it?" “In autumn 1944. Franta Tlak and I fled. Many people fled. And we were out of Valašské Meziříčí, we were with the guerrilla in the Beskydy mountains...” "So you just joined them?" “Do you think that it was because of our persuasion? No way, it was just because of the adventure. Each action was a kind of tension, a game.” "And how old were you then?" “I was going on eighteen.”

  • “I was rather an active man. I was for example chosen for a delegate to Dubček. I was supposed to hand over some presents and support him when they came back from Moscow. So we went there but it was all underlined with a red pen for another negotiation with us. We were excluded from the Party of course. And who was excluded from the Party had to leave the Army. And it concerned us as well. It was strange that many friends,who were would-be friends really, used to say: 'You have to, you have to go, you are so good, you must go to Dubček, you will make a great speaker for us.' And then the same people, all of them raised their hands fairly when they voted for the exclusion of lieutenant colonel Ladislav Kovařík from the Communist Party.”

  • “I got involved in 'plundering guards' because I knew how to use the gun. We helped to organize transfers of German citizens. We simply handed them over on the region boundaries and they sent them further on, either to Germany or to Austria, depending on their 'Ausweis', the order in other words. And it was specifically in Otrokovice where I was.”

  • “I was allowed to do it. It was still under Morozov, the Russian regiment commander, so I was allowed to fly and parachute jump for the last time. Believe it or not I was in such a situation at that time. I jumped from two thousand metres. I had enough time when I jumped out. So I was thinking, shall I go down, shall I not open the parachute, you see, they were mentally already... I was not alone, there were many others who were dismissed and fired from the Army. And they were so mentally tired and pushed to the fact that they were considering even a suicide – going straight to the ground. Well, and then I said to myself, you have got a family, you have got juniors. I did not realize what to be dismissed would mean, if they would be accepted at schools. Well, I opened the parachute in the end and I lived on.”

  • “The occupation by the Soviet troops. Of course it was at the airport as well. It was very unpleasant since there was just a regiment that had been in the East Germany. We had such a kind of friendship with them, they used to call it friendship at that time, and they came to invade us! We didn't feel well because of that so we were talking. And the regiment commander blamed us, he said: 'I had to command the landing of my pilots from the plane! You switched off all your devices. It was very dangerous, the pilots' heads were at stake!' And we replied: 'Why? Don't forget you're the invaders.' He was all wet because of that and he said: 'No, no, we came in order to do our military drill here.' They found out they were really the invaders and that their leaders told lies to them. And we didn't offer them neither water nor food, nor accommodation, nothing, absolutely nothing. It was really very bad. Of course such kind of groups, our Czech groups, started getting together saying it was right etc. Nevertheless, the regiment commander, when he said it to the pilots that they were the invaders, well, they also felt bad because of that and they wanted their Moscow leaders to come. They came but the whole troop was sent to Russia soon and a new troop came. Those were already unreliable. It is difficult to say where they ended up, maybe in a gulag or somewhere else.”

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    Kutná Hora, 27.11.2009

    duration: 01:29:28
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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“I opened the parachute in the end and I lived on.”

Kovařík dobová.jpg (historic)
Ladislav Kovařík
photo: archiv autora

Ladislav Kovařík was born in Valtice na Moravě into a poor workers’ family on June 14th, 1926. He moved with his parents to Otrokovice in 1938. He finished his primary school attendance there and then he went on to Baťa’s school of work. Almost at the end of the war in autumn 1944, eighteen-year old Ladislav Kovařík and his friend joined Jan Žižka guerrilla brigade that operated in Morava at that time. The leader of the biggest guerrilla brigade in our country was major Dajan Bajanovič Murzin at that time. He took charge of the leadership after the death of Ján Ušiak in November 1944. Ladislav Kovařík was a member of revolutionary guards in Otrokovice during the first May days. After the liberation he went to help the miners in Karviná within the industrial brigade for six months. After that, Ladislav Kovařík went back to Tomáš Baťa’s factory where he worked in the store till 1948. Ladislav joined up the army in the crucial year. He was a member of air division both in Slovakia and Bohemia. He became a paratrooper instructor in the second half of 50s and he gained the rank of a colonel in 1966. The Prague Spring, but the August invasion of the Warsaw Pact Army in the first place caught him in the air division in Čáslav. Ladislav Kovařík became a victim of large purges in the Czechoslovak People’s Army. The purges started after the occupation in 1968 and affected thousands of soldiers. A year after his dismissal from the Army and his exclusion from the KSČ (the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia) he couldn’t find a job. Only later he started working as a digger in a drilling company. He retired in 1981 and lived in Kutná Hora. Ladislav Kovařík became a member of the county rehabilitation committee after the November coup d’état. During their two-year existence they judged cases of persecuted soldiers including for example Tomáš Sedláček or František Fajtl. He was promoted to colonel in retirement in 1990.