Karel Linhart

* 1929  †︎ 2020

  • “In the mornings we had to wake up after four a.m., around half past four. We quickly drank coffee and we went out on the road and we formed lines. The police guards had a long rope and they tied it around us. Those who were walking on the edges had to hold the rope in their hands. We were in rows of five and we moved within this rope toward the work place. A kilometre and a half or two kilometres, in summer and in winter. Later they discovered that it did not have much effect, and so they used trucks to transport us there, and we had to sit on each other’s lap. There were so many of us that we were pressed one against the other. The worst thing was that when we finished the shift in the mine and went up to the surface, we had to wait for those who were late. As I said, the uranium mine is a like a well, it is a damp place, and we were all wet. The clothing froze on us. And there were days when we had to do roll calls like that three times during one afternoon after the morning shift ended. We came to believe that they were not doing that to us because they were stupid, but because it was yet another thing by which they wanted to make our stay in the labour camp as miserable as possible.”

  • “On one day I came to the camp and the following day I was already going down the mine and I became a miner. At first we kind of thought about it as fun. They gave us a drill and they instructed us where to drill a hole. They placed the drill on a pneumatic stand for us. And it took us a while to realize that we needed to operate both valves, and that if you let more power into the drill, then you get less air into the stand and it would fall down, and on the other hand, if there is more air in there, then it keeps swerving upward. Well, and when I already learnt it, I began working in the shaft as an entryman. There was a guy who was to give us training for that, I don’t know if he was a political prisoner or a civilian. Carbide lamps were used for lighting there and he used the soot from the lamp to mark four spots on the wall for us and he told us to drill in those spots until 75 centimetres. We did what we could. We did not manage it during one day, no way. And after we drilled the holes in there, a civilian employee came there and he placed fuses in there and we hid and he blasted it. And we did not even wait for the air to clear and we rushed in there and pushed wagons in there. We used spades and a kind of a trough and we started to fill the wagons. A boy who had been trained as a miner in the Ostrava region was working there with me and he advised me that if I stepped on the wagon and tilted it, then I did not have to raise the trough so high. Well, you needed some knack for all of that.”

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Nové Město na Moravě, 23.01.2018

    duration: 01:50:09
    media recorded in project Paměťová stopa
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

Where there is no law, there is no crime. They sentenced us based on a recently created law for high treason and espionage

Karel Linhart as a young man
Karel Linhart as a young man
photo: Paměťová stopa

Karel Linhart was born on April 23, 1929 in Nové Město na Moravě and he attended the grammar school in this town until the fifth grade. Then he moved to Jihlava with his parents. Karel graduated from the grammar school in Jihlava in 1948. After graduation he unsuccessfully applied for study at the Law Faculty in Brno, and so he started working in the accounting department of the company Pal in Jihlava instead. When he was in the last grade of grammar school, he became a member of a club of secondary school students who were to become a branch of the resistance group Světlana. He was sentenced for high treason and espionage to ten years of imprisonment in 1950 due to distribution of pamphlets. Before the trial, he had been interned in prisons in Jihlava, in Cejl in Brno and in Pilsen-Bory. In April 1950 he was sent to Jáchymov to the labour camp Bratrství (“Brotherhood.”) He was released after six and a half years. He returned from Jáchymov to Jihlava, but he was unable to find a job or housing here. Karel therefore went with his wife and children to the Ostrava region and he began working in coal mines there. Eventually he returned to Nové Město na Moravě and until 1979 he was then working in uranium mines in Dolní Rožínka. He retired at the age of fifty, and as a retiree he then worked for ten more years as a receptionist in Hotel Ski. He now lives with his daughter in a house in Nové Město na Moravě, he is still an active member of the Confederation of Political Prisoners and he attends commemorative events.