Rostislav Kubišta

* 1923  †︎ 2014

  • “We were at the air force training and we had a special unit for Czechs. We had water to wash and to drink, we had simulators and parachutes. We thought it might be better on the front but it wasn’t. One day a handsome Arab came (Reza Pahlavi – ed. note). He was tall and slim and really really handsome. Then we went to Teheran and wanted to see the palace of Reza Pahlavi but we didn’t get in. So Pahlavi sent us a car to go swimming. We wanted to take a swim somewhere in Teheran. It is a big city, like the distance from here to Prague. We went for about seventy kilometers to a swimming pool and there we swam in the muddy water and got infected with malaria.”

  • “It was a serious injury...”

  • “We got an order. We were supposed to climb up a hill. First we sent scouts to search the area. There were Germans so we wanted to encircle them. And I was hit in the head. It was a horrible blow and I had my head injured here on the back. But it seems that it was just on the surface, I wouldn’t probably have finished a forestry school if I had a damaged brain. So that was my second injury and then nothing else.”

  • “There were a lot of us and I got there somehow so I couldn’t escape. I saw the Germans executing the Jews. It was an awful tragedy that a human mind can not fully understand. They were shooting them with machineguns day and night. And this tragedy affected me so badly that something human inside me just broke.”

  • “I don’t know what exactly happened. The (the German soldier) turned around and ran down the hill between the beech trees. And I was standing there and asking myself: ‘Should I shoot him?’ He turned as he was running and looked at me. I had plenty of time to kill him. But in that moment I thought that he could have shot me earlier. So I let him go. And later I thought: ‘So, you still are human after all.’”

  • “It was in winter. We had to eat everything even the food Germans gave us. And we hated them because they started the second world war and there were also our fellows dying. I got a task to take the dead bodies out in the morning. There was a lot of snow and we would always cart dead naked bodies behind the city. We couldn’t bury them because it was too cold and it was impossible to dig a grave. So we were piling them up. The pile was about two or three meters high and about hundred and fifty or two hundred meters long.”

  • “This was full of shell splinters...”

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Mladá Boleslav, 14.01.2011

    duration: 04:37:17
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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How have I become a human?

Rostislav Kubišta
Rostislav Kubišta
photo: archiv Rostislava Kubišty

Colonel Rostislav Kubišta was born on the 3rd of May 1923 in Novostav in Volhynia to the only Czech family in the village. He completed a Polish-Ukrainian basic school and followed with a Russian grammar school. During the German occupation of Volhynia, he was arrested and on the 17th of November 1941 jailed in Rovno, in a prison that formerly served as a ghetto for the Jewish inhabitants. In 1942, the prisoners were being transported, most probably to Lublin, but Rostislav Kubišta managed to avoid the transport and escape. He got back to Novostav and hid in a barn at his aunt’s house. In summer 1942, he joined the guerrilla fighters in southern Belarus under the command of lieutenant Medvedev. His cousin’s husband was already fighting with the guerrillas. After the liberation of Belarus he joined the Red Army, where he served at the anti-tank artillery. When he found out about the Czechoslovak brigade, he wanted to get transferred, which finally happened in 1944. He came to Rovno with the Czechoslovak brigade before most of his fellow Volhynian countrymen could join the brigade. He served as a signaller and completed training for a lieutenant colonel at the academy in Kamenets-Podolsky. He was transferred to the air force units in Bessarabia and later sent to Telavi in Georgia. He suffered malaria, was dismissed from the air force and had to join the infantry. Through Moscow, he got back to the 1st Czechoslovak independent brigade and joined them during the battle for Krosno. Later he took part in the fights at the Dukla pass and was injured on both legs and on the head. After the recovery he joined the army again and took part in the liberation of Czechoslovakia. After the war, he finished a forestry college in Písek and worked as a forester. Rostislav Kubišta passed away on December, the 8th, 2014.