Irena Kroupová

* 1924  

  • “You won’t hear much from me. When we were living in Středokluky, we went up to the top of the house to watch. Because we had to have all our doors, windows, everything closed when they razed Lidice. So we went up to the attic, and we saw how the houses started burning one after the other. The men were already dead. It was supervised, the soldiers, right, it all had to be closed off. It was a normal day, not a Sunday; it wasn’t a Sunday, I’m sure of that. I wasn’t employed yet. I didn’t go to work until forty-three. Not in forty-two, I wasn’t assigned to forced labour yet.”

  • “Well, when [the war] was over, me, my brother, and one more friend of ours, he had a car, a lorry, we agreed we’d go to Germany to get the prisoners. We went there because we knew that the camp, which was a labour camp, near Munich, that there were Czech prisoners there and that they needed to get home. So we volunteered, we got a lorry, and we travelled there - it was past Munich. We loaded them up, as many as we could, and brought them here, to Prague. The Americans gave us a signboard, we always had to show that, and they signed it and wrote where we had permission to go, and there we had to present ourselves again, and in this way we reached the camp. We scrounged up a lorry there, the smaller kind, we loaded up the people from the camp, as many as we could, the prisoners - former prisoners - and took them all to Prague. We would enter a town, a smaller town, say, and when the Americans there saw what cargo we had - because we had a signboard saying we had prisoners with us - they would have almost stuffed us with food. They behaved in a really fine manner. We didn’t actually go through the Soviet zone really.”

  • Full recordings
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    Praha, Zličín, 29.01.2018

    duration: 58:19
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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In the greatest of horrors, every speck of humanity has the power of hope

photo: Artchív pamětnice

Irena Kroupová was born on 16 September 1924 in Hlinsko, into the family of the headmaster of the local business school. Her father was transferred to a teaching position in Litomyšl and then in Středokluky near Prague. The inhabitants of this village witnessed a horrifying event: the nearby village of Lidice, which was closely connected to Středokluky by numerous familial ties and friendships, was eradicated by the Nazis in June 1942. A year later the witness was assigned to forced labour in Modřany, at an auxiliary arms factory of the Junkers plant in Vysočany. After the war she and her brother and a friend set off in a small lorry to Rosenheim, Bavaria, where a large group of people had been held in forced labour in the arms industry. After sorting out the necessary formalities, they received other vehicles, and the whole convoy then returned to Bohemia. After the war she renewed her activities in Sokol, which had been banned by the Germans. An enthusiastic Sokolite, Irena Kroupová was active in her local Sokol organisation and even became the chief of its female section. However, Sokol was abolished in 1948, and as a former chief she was considered politically unreliable. As such, she had to make do with a job at Coal Storage. She met her future husband there - they have two daughters and are still together to this day.