prof. MUDr., DrSc. Zdeněk Mraček

* 1930  

  • “When we got to the basement, my parents sat down on a bench and I, a curious fifteen-year-old boy, went to look out from the basement window to see what the garden of this German house looked like. There was nothing remarkable there, just nettles. What was remarkable, however, was what my father told me: ´Don’t stare out of this window, something may fall here and hit your eyes.´ Fortunately I obeyed him. I made two steps back from that window. In this instant, an aerial bomb dropped down about five metres in front of that small window and exploded.”

  • “Yet another experience from battle. The local authorities hunted down a fanatic German shooter and only caught him up in the attic. He was shooting at people; I saw a shot-through typewriter there, the individual letters lying around the table and on the floor. From the town hall window I had the chance to watch an American soldier. He was sitting in a Jeep in the area of the present roundabout in front of the high-rise building in Americká street (at the time, it was called the street of the German Victory) – and a couple of fanatical Germans were shooting at him from the windows. I observed the scene through a hole in the window and thought: ‘Boy, how can you just sit there like that?’ During the shootout he just sat there, being cool and looking around. ‘Hide a bit or you will get shot,’ I thought. I could see that the Americans were veteran soldiers with war experience. Such shooting could not unsettle them. He just looked around, then took his machine gun, aimed it at the windows and started shooting. That was it.”

  • “The general strike took place on February 25. As the class leader, I went to the staffroom to make an announcement to the teachers: ´We are not on strike. We want to have classes.´ The teachers in the staffroom became scared. They obviously knew what was going on, and they saw me as a young boy, a crazy idealist, who came to announce to them that he opposed the regime which was about to seize power. We remained in the classroom, only one stupid girl was happy that she didn’t have to stay in school and she went home to her mom.”

  • “From the window I had observed our women who were welcoming the Americans riding tanks and trucks with cakes and sweets. But the guys took nothing from them. They would themselves give out chewing gums and cigarettes but they refused everything which was offered to them. Back then I had realized that the soldiers were not yet well oriented. They went throughout much of Europe, Germany – through enemy territory. The Sudetenland was also enemy territory. At that time Pilsen was on the border of the Third Reich. Chotíkov and Litice villages were already in Germany. So the soldiers did not understand well that they had already arrived to a friendly country with friendly inhabitants. These were questions of several-minute-long changes during their advancement. Most likely the commanders ordered them not to take anything from the locals, just to make sure nobody would give them anything harmful.”

  • “When there was a state holiday or a special day our class at the grammar school observed the tradition of laying a bouquet of flowers at the monument of Masaryk, which was called the National Liberation monument. At the time of the commemoration ceremony for the deceased President Beneš, we bought a funeral wreath with ribbons from a florist’s and went to place it at the monument. It was in the morning of September 8. There were policemen standing around the monument and they told us that it was forbidden to place anything there. My classmate, Ota Rösch, carried the wreath on his shoulder. He was a bit of a rebel and he wanted to argue with the policemen. I took the wreath from him and asked: ´Well, but where should we put this wreath then, if we are not allowed to place it here?´ We realized that in our school building there was a memorial plaque dedicated to people who had died because of German persecution during the Protectorate. What were we to do with the wreath? We would go to school and place it there. But as we were walking to our grammar school with the wreath, we were attacked by a bunch of communists and cops. They made us get into a Black Mary. We were arrested and driven to the building on the embankment, which was nicknamed Gestapo.”

  • “It was quite dramatic for our family. Civilian families moved out of Uzhhorod quickly. But since it was the time of the mobilization, my father who was an officer, got transferred to Moravia. My mom and I remained alone in our flat. We had everything packed in boxes and we were waiting. Father had told us: ´I will take care of you.´ But we still hadn’t heard from him. The situation was tense. We were among the last ones who had remained in Uzhhorod and some rogues were already coming to plunder the abandoned flats. When we heard that the Hungarians were about to cross the borders at Čop, which was several kilometres from us, father finally organized a large military truck to come for us, and our furniture and boxes. My mom and I then went from Uzhhorod to Slovakia by car together with one major and one colonel.”

  • “Political commissars came to see me at the construction site and showed me a copy of the Moravostav company magazine. In the magazine it said that private Mraček was evaluated as the best digger in Moravostav for September or October. Therefore they came to make me an offer to become a civilian. I would be free to leave the military service only under the condition that I sign a commitment to work in construction for the following five years. This was a regular procedure. I was angry. I told them that I would not sign anything and that I wanted to continue with my studies in medicine. Adding that I didn’t care if they let me go or not, that I would serve in the Auxiliary Technical Battalions until I die if need be. But they only tried it. An order had already been issued that I was to be released. They told me that they would release me even if I hadn't signed it.”

  • “Whenever we walked with the children through the forest and saw a deer-stand, we would climb up and take a look. One time we were in the Šumava mountains and the children told me: ´Hey, there is a deer-stand! Let’s go there and climb on it.´ I said: ´Kids, we can’t do that. This is not a deer-stand from which you observe and shoot animals, they use this deer-stand to shoot people.´”

  • Full recordings
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    Plzeň, 17.02.2011

    duration: 09:44:57
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
  • 2

    Plzeň, 14.11.2013

    duration: 02:46:36
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th Century TV
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We shall remain faithful to your democracy

Period photo
Period photo
photo: archiv pamětníka

  Prof. MUDr. Zdeněk Mraček was born January 6, 1930 in Pilsen. However, he spent his childhood in Carpathian Ruthenia, where his father served as an officer of the Czechoslovak army. The family had to flee Uzhhorod in November 1938, when the southern part of Carpathian Ruthenia was occupied by Hungary. Zdeněk Mraček completed the higher elementary school in Pilsen and then studied at a grammar school. When he was in the last year of his studies, in September 1948, the former Czechoslovak president Edvard Beneš died. Mraček and his schoolmates wanted to pay respect to the president by laying a funeral wreath at the monument of T. G. Masaryk in Pilsen. Their deed was, however, considered an anti-communist protest and the police prevented them from placing the wreath at the monument. After an ensuing fight with a group of communists, the students were arrested and detained. Zdeněk Mraček was released after two weeks and his prosecution terminated, but he was banned from studying anywhere in the country. In 1948 his father was sacked from the army. During the following year Zdeněk Mraček worked as a labourer in the malt house of the Pilsen Urquell Brewery. He was eventually allowed to take the graduation exam in May 1949 and was admitted to the Faculty of Medicine in Pilsen. At this time, the family was evicted from their flat in Pilsen and moved to Holýšov. Although the conscription for the military service was normally postponed for university students, Zdeněk Mraček was unexpectedly drafted to the Auxiliary Technical Battalions (PTP) on October 1, 1951. He served in the 53rd PTP in Libavá and in Rajhrad. After his release in November 1953 he continued with his studies in medicine. He graduated in 1957 and began working in the newly formed Neurosurgery Department at the surgical clinic in Pilsen. He worked here until his retirement (with the exception of the years between 1964-1966 when he worked in the Central Military Hospital in Prague). He can be called the “father” of the Neurosurgery Department at the University Hospital in Pilsen. In addition, he also lectured at the Faculty of Medicine at Charles University in Pilsen and focused on research. Professor Mraček is an internationally recognized expert on neurosurgery. Due to his critical attitude to the communist regime his career and academic growth was limited. It was only after 1989 that he was appointed docent and professor. In 1990 he was elected the mayor of the City of Pilsen, and served in this office until 1994. Until 1995 he was the head of the Neurosurgery Department at the University Hospital in Pilsen, and lectured at the Faculty of Medicine until 2003. He retired in 2003. Professor Mraček is an important personage for the City of Pilsen. In 2008 he became an Honorary Citizen of Pilsen and in 2010 his name was recorded in the Hall of Honour for the Pilsen region.