Adolf Linka

* 1919  †︎ 2014

  • “1952 came and I as a proper citizen went – not to do anything wrong – to a First of May celebration. The year ’52 was interesting because it was snowing a lot. The trees were already blossoming and one could not distinguish snow from blooms. I returned home and my wife told me that a man from the Secret Police visited and told her that I was no longer allowed in the research institute and that I was to report immediately in a quarry. I was in shock – what quarry? When they confirmed this, I took my bicycle and drove there. The commander of the quarry had a look at me and asked whether I really was an engineer. I confirmed this and he told me to load up gravel.”

  • “When I applied there they interviewed me. Eventually, although I had been only 24 years old, they agreed on me being able to carry out this idea. So we went into a large room, Albert Speer was sitting there. These three gentlemen told Speer that this was a big deal and that it could be significant for the future of Germany. That one soldier at the battlefront did not make a difference and that it was important for me to have a chance to implement it.”

  • “It happened on 20 May. It was warm, we were all very thirsty and we were there. The night came, there was some stir and one of the detained people hanged himself. In the morning we had to line up naked with our hands stretched and someone was checking whether we had some mark of the SS. It was a long line and I was standing at the side near the shack which housed the commander. Suddenly, he started shouting: ‘Damn it, I need a guy to clean my stove in here.’ And I shouted back: ‘I can do that!’ To which he replied: ‘Come here then, you guy!’ So I was allowed to leave them. I was certainly the youngest of all. Four of them were later brought into a nearby abandoned brick factory and had to dig their grave there, as we later found out. There they shot and buried them. I had just saved my life, thanks to understanding Czech.”

  • “One day, a man from the secret police came to me and told me that it was no coincidence that I was posted in Trutnov. He said that I was a very well-known figure in the region and that the people knew that I had been imprisoned for 8 years. He told me that now I would have the chance to distinguish myself. He said that they would give me a cover name and that if I detected people with anti-regime sentiments or attitudes, I was supposed to report it to them. I would not have to go to court. My cover name was to be ‘Štika’ (Pike) and he promised that they would take care of everything else. He said that the more successful I was in revealing opponents of the regime, the more successful I would be in my work. ‘Now you’re an assistant worker, you can become an engineer again’. I told him that I had never denounced anybody. ‘You can go to a pub…’ ‘I don’t like pubs – I hate the cigarette smoke’. They also offered me money so I could invite people for a drink. But I wouldn’t report anybody, so they stepped up the pressure on my wife. They told me that I was stubborn and that it would end badly for us. They would arrest me again. My wife got scared. She knew how hard it was to be the wife of a political prisoner. So one day I came back home and the caretaker denied me access to the house. He said that my wife had handed in her notice and didn’t live there anymore. He said: ‘here’s your suitcase’. I knew that my wife was pregnant. There was nothing I could do. I couldn’t even move about freely. When I wanted to go somewhere I had to report it.”

  • “I got an invitation from Prague to come to Dr. Těmín at the Ministry of Industry. He told me: ‘Look, this is immensely interesting what you have here but what do you want to do with it in Germany? Germany is in ruins now, a heap of ashes. Here, you’ll have everything you need for your work. I’ll give you anything, just say what you want’. I thought that that was a wonderful offer. I spoke Czech, I had my relatives here, and for me the most important thing was to be able to work again. We made a contract that said that everything was going to be my intellectual property. I would be the owner of everything I invented. The only condition was to give Czechoslovakia priority access to the technologies I would invent. They set up a factory for me in Úpice, I had my own secretary, lock smiths. I was given the required machinery and facilities. I had everything I needed. Thus I started to work on a way how to combine the individual elements of my invention into a single machine. I had to make up a way it would all work together, as a whole. After we signed that contract by which I was bound to remain in Czechoslovakia, my parents were exempted from the measures aimed against the Germans. But by then, it was already too late because everything had already been stolen from us.”

  • “All of a sudden I was arrested. They took me away to prison. I was blind folded – they called it ‘the goggles’ – and they were taking me up a set of stairs. I could smell wet paint. They locked me up behind sheet-metal doors where they kept me all the time before they took me to the interrogation. ‘We know everything about you, there’s no point in denying it. We want to hear it from you’. In the end, they wanted me to sign a protocol where they put names of people who were strange to me. Although I didn’t know them, they were allegedly somehow involved in it all and were planning to get my invention to West Germany. They also accused me of the intention to reveal to the Germans everything I had learned about the research and development of Svatý’s design. They told me: ‘We know that you’re a typical capitalist. If it was in your power, you’d drop bombs on Prague’. The also said a lot of different other nonsense. I was tied to the chair and refused to sign that so they called some other officer who beat me up. He knocked over the chair I was sitting on and when I was lying on the ground, he would kick me in my testicles. I fainted and when I woke up, I was in terrible pain back on my cell. Some time had passed and they let me know that I was supposed to sign their paper. But I didn’t sign it. So they took me for the interrogation again. ‘You do have a choice. Don’t you understand that denying is pointless? Well, we’ll see…’.”

  • “A lot of time had passed by when suddenly I received a summons to Albert Speer. So I set out well in advance to have enough time to locate the building. It was a beautiful building, with a waiting room on the first floor. I was joined there by three gentlemen – a high official of the patent office, a professor and a man who was basically in charge of the economy in the Protectorate. They asked me to explain to them my idea – how I conceived the circular turbine. I explained my concept of the circular weaving turbine and they came to the conclusion that it was realistic to manufacture it and that it could work. Then we went together to Albert Speer. These gentlemen holding high offices explained Speer the significance of my invention for Germany in the future, although it wasn’t a weapon. They said that it would be a terrible pity to put down that soldier in the war. One soldier more or less on the battlefield is negligible, but it would certainly be a loss for Germany to let me die in the war. Speer said that the situation was very tense but that he would try to do something about it.”

  • “The thing is that the weaving turbine was incredibly important for the textile industry at that time. The textile industry employed a greater number of less physically fit people than agriculture. When I served in the army, I was assigned to the Ministry of Aviation in Berlin. The people there talked about a new invention of the Japanese, a new kind of permanent magnet that was about forty times stronger than the existing permanent magnet. They used it in their air force for the remote compass. I had been thinking about something like that for a long time and now I heard about it being invented by the Japanese! Because I basically grew up in a weaving mill and the noise was just terrible. I would spend a lot of time thinking about a solution – how you could eliminate the banging. It would stop if you were able to make the shuttle ride around. My idea received a boost by the invention of that magnet and so I invented the solution of the circular loom.”

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Hechingen, 01.06.2012

    duration: 04:27:44
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
  • 2

    Praha Hagibor, 07.03.2014

    duration: 01:24:00
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th Century TV
  • 3

    Praha Hagibor, 07.03.2014

    duration: 01:29:04
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

‘If I hadn’t stayed in Czechoslovakia after the war, I would have succeeded in developing the machine. But here I was buried alive.”

Adolf Linka - contemporary photo
Adolf Linka - contemporary photo

Adolf Linka was born on April 8, 1919, in the northern Bohemian town of Trutnov, where his family owned a textile factory. His father was German; his mother came from a mixed Czech-German family. Adolf soon became fluent in both languages. His great technical talent predestined him to study at the University of Textile Technology in Brno. He graduated with honors and was able to postpone the call to service in the German Army, which he received in 1941. After having completed basic military training, he briefly worked at the Ministry of Aviation in Berlin, where he became acquainted with a new technological invention called the permanent magnet. He used the principle of the permanent magnet for the development of a circular weaving the machine, which was to become the invention of his life. Given the importance of his invention, he was permitted to devote himself to his work for the rest of the war until 1945. At the end of the war, he was back in his native Trutnov. Because of his German origin, he was captured by Czech “patriots”, posted in an internment camp and later sent to work for a farmer in the countryside. In the autumn of 1945, the then deputy minister of industry Tomáš Těmín found Adolf Linka and persuaded him to stay in Czechoslovakia and continue his work on the weaving machine. Těmín was aware of the importance of the invention and, therefore, offered Linka generous working conditions for his further research. Linka’s work was interrupted by the political coup of 1948. The good working conditions that Linka had enjoyed as an independent researcher were rapidly deteriorating. In 1952, he had to transfer to the Textile Research Institute in Liberec where he faced various obstacles to his work. In the autumn of 1952, he was arrested and subjected to a series of brutal interrogations. A trial was held in June 1955, for having allegedly sabotaged the Czechoslovak economy (the work on the weaving turbine was reportedly taking too long), Mr. Linka was sentenced to six years in prison. He spent eight years in prison. He was held in prisons in Prague Pankrác, Jáchymov, Příbram, and Valdice. After his release, he was sent back to his native Trutnov and the secret police tried unsuccessfully to get him to cooperate. In 1966, he managed to emigrate to West Germany. As an outstanding expert, he was posted in textile companies in Swabia, where he continued with the development of the circular weaving turbine. However, in the early seventies, when his research was finally completed and the machine was ready for mass production and application, a sharp slump of the textile industry in Europe occurred and, therefore, Linka’s machine has never really been put into operation. Adolf Linka was the author of more than a thousand technological patents, the success of his lifetime work, however, was thwarted by the many years he lost in communist prisons. He died on April 12, 2014, in Podebrady.