Jaroslav Moravec

* 1934  †︎ 2021

  • “The more affluent people were already being summoned to the Rovno railway station with their families, at a given time and date. They could take maybe fifty kilogrammes of stuff with them or something like that. They didn't know where they were supposed to be going, but everyone knew that they would end up in Gulag. And those who went away never came back. I knew that this neighbor in our village was lucky. He was quite rich, he had this big homestead. And they summoned him to the Rovno railway station on Monday. And on Friday afternoon the Germans invaded the Soviet Union. So there indeed were people who were saved by the fact that on June 22nd, 1941, Germany invaded the Soviet Union. There's no point in hiding that. That was the situation. When Hitler sent someone to a concentration camp, he would add this note that there's no need of him coming back. Stalin didn't have to write anything, as no one would ever come back anyway. So that was the situation, more or less.”

  • “There were people who were allowed to take horses with them. Some of them took cows with them. And what else did they take? Agricultural machinery maybe. But I didn't understand why they were taking ploughs, sleights and so on, I didn't understand what they were thinking. As you would take just duvets and some things you needed in the kitchen. And grain, of course, and plenty of lard, and butter. As you needed supplies for the journey.” - “And what did you take? Did you take a horse with you?” - “No. My father said that we wouldn't take a thing. As they knew where we would be going and what we would get here. And also, it was so much trouble – to take care of a horse during such a long journey, to feed it and all. As it took us three weeks maybe! So we would just abandon such an idea. Cows, horses, furniture, we sold it to the Ukrainians. And as a reward, that we would sell it or maybe even give it to them for free, they took us on a cart to Rovno railway station, as we no longer had horses.”

  • “It was no longer safe, as kolkhozes and sovkhozes were being established. But it took some time till it got to us, as we were living in Western Ukraine. In Velky Spakov, we were all independent farmers. But it wasn't like before. Conditions were bad and they kept bringing up kolkhozes. And we knew all too well how it went in the east. As they had to take just everything from the people, to make them join the agricultural coops. And I know that not so far away from where we were living, there was this place where they would gather grain, whole piles of it, and they would leave it to rot. By doing so, they were trying to starve the Ukrainians, to force them to join kolkhozes. Fortunately, we didn't experience anything like that.”

  • “At first, we couldn't understand that something like this could happen here. I guess even Gottwald claimed that this wouldn't happen in our country. In villages around us, they were already establishing agricultural coops. But they had a hard time convincing us. To join some agricultural coop, as we, as Volhynians, weren't used to such a thing. They knew the situation in Russia, and they also knew how kolkhozes had been functioning, so they kept resisting as long as they could. But in the end, there was nothing you could do. In 1958, the cooperative state farm took over the whole district. And we were supposed to work, my parents at least, at this farm, maybe a kilometer away from us. Imagine two old farmers, fifty, sixty years old, being forced to work in a agricultural coop, where they were supposed to take orders from someone? That wasn't something they were used to. As they were their own masters. And what was the end of it? The village just disappeared, they all moved away.”

  • “We kept living like the Volhynians! We were living just like we did in Velky Spakov, the only difference was that it was much safer in Krtín. Can you imagine ten Volhynian families living together? We did everything like we used to in Volhynia. All the holidays. This fair, for example. In Krtin, it was just like in Velky Spakov. The Whit Sunday, just everything. The Angelus bell and this small chapel. My grandma would ring the bell every noon. And when it was too much for her to handle, I just took her place, as I was living nearby.”

  • “The situation was bad. Why? The year of 1947 was maybe the most dry of them all that I experienced while we were living in Bohemia. Drought, just drought, the harvest was bad. You couldn't even feed the animals. Quite a difficult time indeed. As in Volhynia, we were used to something completely different. As there was always raining, the soil was good. But we managed to survive somehow, and it kept getting better in years to come. Compared to Volhynia, the soil was quite rocky in Western Bohemia. It just wasn't so good. And the harvests never marched those we had back in Volhynia.”

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    Fulnek, 19.09.2020

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    Fulnek, 20.09.2020

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    duration: 01:18:13
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The Volhynians resisted collectivization by all means, as they knew how it went in Russia with the kolkhozes

Jaroslav Moravec in the early 1950s
Jaroslav Moravec in the early 1950s
photo: archiv Jaroslava Moravce

Jaroslav Moravec was born on November 11th, 1934 in Velky Spakov, Volhynia, in today’s Ukraine. His family was a part of a local Volhynian Czech community. They witnessed the Soviet annexation of Volhynia after the outbreak of the World War II in 1939, the Nazi occupation and – once again – the rule of Stalin’s Soviet Union. His father, Josef Moravec, joined the 1st Czechoslovak Independent Brigade in 1944 in the town of Rovno, which was fighting alongside the Red Army against the Nazi forces. He survived the fighting at the Dukla Pass and managed to go all the way to Prague. In 1947, the family moved to Czechoslovakia due to a Volhynian Czech re-emigration programme. Together with their compatriots and relatives from Volhynia, they have been given homesteads in the village of Krtín in the West Bohemian borderlands, that belonged to Germans who had been expelled. Until 1958, they had been farming the land and kept their traditions they have brought from Volhynia. After their farm had been taken over by the cooperative state farm, they relocated to Northern Moravia, to the village of Butovice near Studenka. Jaroslav Moravec started to work at a factory in Fulnek, manufacturing Romo washing machines, rising from a regular labourer to a member of the development department. He had been a member of the Czech Freedom Fighters Union and the Volhynian Czech Fellowship. In 2020, he had been living in Fulnek. Jaroslav Moravec died on February 9th, 2021.