“There weren’t as many guards on the night shift, just three of them. We decided to pretend that one of the engines broke, the water pumps always choked. We reported that we need to repair it. That was a trick. Three men went up with the engine, one guard went with them. In the workshop they hit him from behind and took his gun. Then they went back to the shaft. There was a young guard who was still quite eager and he tried to grab his machinegun which he had on the back and Úlehla had to fire, so that the guard was hit and injured. We sent the rest of the guards in a lift down to the shaft and escaped.”
“We had a girl in the group, who worked as a secretary at the office of the National Social Party. Before the events of February 1948, people began to realize that the Communists were not just the liberators and that their rule could bring a lot of bad things. Some of them came to the office and threw the communist card on the floor and joined the National Social Party. So this girl, her name was Zdena Horčíková, had the cards. When the colleagues came from the west, we just replaced the photographs in the cards and they had their documents. They found it when they arrested them they found the cards and they found us. That was one of the activities.”
“The beginning was very hard. It lasted the whole night and it was the interrogator Janoušek, who also interrogated Slánský. He was a brute, he didn’t wait long to hit you. I was sitting on a chair and anytime I said something that Janoušek didn’t like he hit me, I often fell from the chair on the floor. They let me kneeling by the wall and hit me in the back of my head, so I hit the wall with my face. I didn’t look very pretty. The also confronted me with the others from my group.”
“In our cell there was Mirek Polák, who also fought abroad. They had to walk past us, the dead ones and us three, who were alive, and he said aloud: ‘Hi, Kuki.’ That was my scout nickname. So they gathered around him and began to beat him and took him to the correction cell. And later on, he told me that he had a hard time there, and that they had beaten him very bad.”
“And when they caught all the people from the group, they told them where they were hidden, so we were also disclosed. We had a trial as a subgroup of the Choc case. I got seven years and I went through Bory and several little concentration camps until I got to Horní Slavkov in the area around Jáchymov. We were mining uranium for the Soviet Union. We tried to escape, eleven prisoners. It was a Sunday night shift and we disarmed the guards. We were caught the other day, because one of the prisoners came back and so we weren’t very much ahead. I was shot in the knee, so I couldn’t get very far.”
“There wasn’t any gun left for me. I knew that it would have been very bad if they caught me alive. So I dealt with the others that in the worst case, they would have one bullet left for me. They surprised us. When one of the guards appeared up on the hill, they all run in the opposite direction and they forgot me there. They certainly didn’t want to come back for me. And when I heard that they were searching through the wood I tried to hang myself on a branch but it broke and I fell on the ground, so I stayed alive. By then they were too close and I didn’t have time for any other attempts. I certainly didn’t want to be caught alive.”
We sent the rest of the guards in a lift down to the shaft and escaped
Karel Kukal was born in 1927 Prague in a family of a businessman. He studied at a grammar school. After the events of February 1948, he actively participated in the third resistance. After 1945, he became a member of the youth organization of the Czech National Social Party because if its anti-communist doctrines. They published a journal, distributed newsletters and white ballots before the election in 1948. He was arrested and sentenced in a trial together with Milan Choc to seven years in prison. On 15th October 1951 he was one of the prisoners who escaped from the shaft number 14 at Horní Slavkov. The escape wasn’t successful and Karel Kukal was caught the next day and sentenced to another 25 years in prison. In 1968, he emigrated to Switzerland where he was one of the founding members of the exile Scout Movement. He wrote a book about the escapes from the mines at Jáchymov, called Ten Crosses. Karel Kukal passed away on March, the 6th, 2016.