“We were in the basement and suddenly somebody was banging on the door and when it did not stop, my mom got up and she went to open the door. There was a German soldier with a rifle and he was asking her why she kept the door closed. She replied: ‘How could I leave it open when there is war outside and you destroyed my house and there is a hole left by a grenade and you have hurt my son.’ My brother was injured in his neck, blood was gushing from him and my mom had to dress his wound and bandage him. The soldier said: ‘Gut, mother, so close the door and don’t open to anybody.’ We had a shelter dug out under the trees in the garden. We would go and hide there when bombs started falling. As soon as it got dark, they started flying and bombing. Rovno suffered quite large damage. From 1941 to 1945 there was constant fighting.”
“‘Tálčo, I am going to let the cow out, just in case, so that they are not in the cowshed...’ And mom said: ‘Daddy don’t go anywhere, stay here.’ But he did not listen to her and he opened the door when it happened. He died right there, and he had a gashing wound in his brain caused by shrapnel. We thus saw that grandpa was dead. There were many dead in the Poleščuk family.”
“Mom went to the office of general Svoboda in Rovno. There more of them; women who begged him to help them get to Bohemia, claiming that they needed to leave urgently. And on top of that, my mother was pregnant. The last transport with soldiers was to leave. They agreed that they would take us with them, but we had to go on our own risk. Certain Mr. Vágner went with us, he was a military commander of some regiment. But unfortunately it did not help much; he was negotiating on our behalf, even with Stalin and I don’t know with whom else. Eventually they allowed us to go. It was cold on the train at night, in the cattle truck, and during the day it was hot inside, and we were just barely were surviving there. Later they offered us some food and we were picking it up, because our own supplies were already exhausted. We were there from the end of April, my mom had her birthday on 3rd May, her 41st birthday, and my sister was born on 6th May, among Hungarians. We were there for just a couple of days and somebody allowed her that she did not have to give birth on the train. I don’t remember anymore how it all happened… I was babysitting Bohouš and Honza was watching over me in turn. We were a threesome. And some Hungarian woman meanwhile served as a midwife for my mom. My mom’s birthday was on the third and we reached Chop that day. The journey was not straight: at first we passed through Rovno, then Lviv, and then we were in Mukachevo, and then we reached Chop. And there they did not allow us to pass.”
They were all crying that we eventually managed to endure it
Marie Kratochvílová was born on July 26, 1933 in Rovno in the western part of Volhynia. In 1939 she experienced the Volhynia’s takeover by the Red Army and two years later, on June 22, 1941, the German attack on the Soviet Union. Her grandfather and other relatives, including children, died during the bombardment of Rovno on the same day. The family lost their house. Her eldest brother was sent to do forced labour in Germany, but he managed to escape from there and he was then hiding in Bohemia until the end of the war. Marie’s father and her second brother fought in Svoboda’s army and her mother remained at home alone with the youngest children. They lived in poverty and in constant danger. In 1946 they decided for relocation to their original homeland and they undertook an arduous journey by train through Ukraine. The officers at the border refused to allow them to continue to Bohemia and for two months they were waiting for a permission to travel. They eventually became reunited with Marie’s father and brothers in Bohemia, and the family received a house left behind by Germans who had been deported. Marie married in 1954 and she and her husband raised three children. She moved to Opařany in south Bohemia. At first she worked as an accountant and later as a nurse in the children’s psychiatric hospital.