Josef Kůs

* 1938

  • “I would like to remind you of the 1950s and of what they were doing to us. They were threatening us, forcing us to join the JZD, yelling at us that they would destroy us and stomp us to death like rats. It was their fault, because there were actually three of them who joined the JZD and became members and thus they made it possible for them to steal our fields. Our fields were stolen and we were forbidden to enter them and work on them freely. It should have been dealt with in a different way. They should have come to us and said: ‘You got a field here, and we will give you another one in exchange, and have it all in writing.’ I have tried many times while I still had strength, I did what I could so that they would return our fields back to us. I was told that it was not possible, that they didn’t have time. What – how come ‘not possible?’ – while it was possible for some other people. There really are two sets of standards for people.”

  • “We thought that we were those who were feeding the nation, but we found out that we were actually the pest of the nation! We have refused the collectivization process, and my father’s barn was set on fire deliberately for that. The damage was 1.5 million in the then currency. I and my father have refused to participate in the election because Gottwald had tricked us, and as a punishment they put my father behind the bars and I was sent to be re-educated in the labour camp in Komárno (…). The command and leadership of the Auxiliary Technical Battalion was located there. When we were sent there, the command was still there. I experienced what humiliation means to a human being while I was there. What it means to be humiliated. But in spite of that, I have returned home because I fell love for the land and I tried to fulfil it. When I came back, our fields were already incorporated into the large fields of the cooperative and the machines were destroyed. I was left with no other option but to give in if I did not want to betray the whole village. To give in and to join this risky enterprise.”

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    Netunice, Plzeň-jih, 07.03.2014

    duration: 01:12:48
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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We toiled like horses and we did not have any money from it at all

Josef Kůs as a young man
Josef Kůs as a young man

Josef Kůs was born July 6, 1938 in Netunice near Pilsen in the family of small farmer Jan Kůs. His mother died of tuberculosis when he was four years old and Josef’s life was thus severely affected not only by the lack of maternal love, but also by many instances of injustice which he was experiencing during the forced collectivization process in the 1950s. The Unified Agricultural Cooperative (JZD) confiscated the fields from the Kůs family and as a replacement they were given low-quality land which the Kůs family then cultivated for many years. In 1957 Josef’s father succumbed to the blackmailing by the JZD and he became forced to join the cooperative, thereby officially surrendering the fields which had already been confiscated by the JZD a long time ago. As an enemy of the state, in the same year Josef was sent to the Auxiliary Technical Battalions (PTP) in Komárno in Slovakia for his military service and he was experiencing severe psychic deprivation there. His father was imprisoned in the Pilsen-Bory prison and after six months he returned with damaged physical and mental health. After his return from the army service in 1960, Josef Kůs began working in the agricultural cooperative as a tractor driver and he continued working there for another ten years. Then he suffered a work-related injury and he received partial disability allowance. In 1977 the cooperative requested them to turn back the fields which they had provided to the Kůs family in 1952. Josef took the case to court, but he still has not succeeded. The injustice which he had been experiencing throughout his entire life had an effect on his mental health. He suffered from depression and inability to trust people and in the past he had been contemplating suicide. He raised three children with his wife and he still lives in Netunice.