Zdeněk Mandrholec

* 1930  †︎ 2023

  • "We came to work to find out that there was a strike. People were told they had to support the Communist Party. We said that it was bullshit and that we wouldn't have them fool us like that. In 1945 we were very excited about regaining freedom and were looking forwards to the great times ahead. And suddenly, it was all over. That was the reason. These were times when we considered freedom as something that was given to us. We thought we could live freely, talk freely and do whatever we wanted. Obviously, to do that responsibly."

  • "Us who stayed behind considered our options. I did some thinking. The boys and girls said we should leave, that it made no sense for us to stay. We learned one important thing. In between Cheb and Aš is a single-track railway where a so-called 'freedom train' was running. On the route from Cheb to Aš, 200 meters before the Hazlov station, it would slow down almost to standstill and whoever wanted to, could get off. It was some 200 meters to the German border. Back then there were no wires there so it was easy to get through. We took the train to see for ourselves - always just the two of us or something so that they didn't know we were a group of twelve. Then we decided to emigrate as well."

  • "But we drove on and on. More than half an hour later, I thought we had to reach Jáchymov already. But we just carried on. I estimated that it took over two hours. Suddenly, the car had stopped. I could hear an iron gate squeaking. The car moved a bit and the gate closed behind. Now, they pulled me out, taking me who-knows-where. There, they removed my handcuffs. I was ordered to strip naked. They handed me prisoner clothes, covered my eyes again and brought me somewhere. I ended up in a room - a cell 2.5 meters wide and 4.5 meters broad. There they removed the scarf from my eyes. Then they shut the door. There was just a toilet bowl in the corner and a tap with cold water which could only be opened upon permission by the warden. By the wall there was a straw mattress and a blanket. Every day from 6 am till 10 pm I had to walk to and fro, all the time. At 10 pm I had to put the mattress on the ground and lay on it. It was only permitted to sleep on one's back with the blanket up to my chest and hands laid on it. The light was on."

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  • 1

    Praha, 13.06.2016

    duration: 01:57:06
  • 2

    Praha, 30.06.2016

    duration: 01:31:37
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After the communist coup, I believed the Americans would come and liberate us

Zdeněk Mandrholec, 2017
Zdeněk Mandrholec, 2017
photo: autoři natáčení

Zdeněk Mandrholec was born on 1 April 1930 in Přerov. After his father’s death, the family had to move out from a company-owned apartment. He, his mother and sister then moved to western Bohemia. He graduated from a business school and worked at a wool combing factory in Nejdek. He showed his discontent with the communists taking over power in February 1948. In 1951 he had to start compulsory military service. He was annoyed by training to fight for a regime that he hated. He served on a unit placed in a former monastery in Nová Říše from which the monks were driven out. Along with other soldiers he established a group which prepared itself to fight the communists. They believed that the US army would come to help, as it did during the liberation from Nazi Germany. However, their group was uncovered. In 1953 he was arrested and sentenced to ten years in prison for high treason. He spent six and a half years at uranium mines in the Jáchymov area. In 1960 he was released on an amnesty. Then he worked in a blue-collar job at road construction where he stayed up until retirement. Only after 1989 did he find out who turned their group in in the 1950s. Zdeněk Mandrholec died on June 13, 2023.