František Netušil

* 1961

  • “We arrived in Chrudim, where people ran up to us, threw us food and said we were going against the Poles. We told them we knew about it. We said goodbye. We felt awful at that moment. Also, we were really tired, frozen stiff, and famished to such an extent that it was just too much to bear. They led us into some barracks, which I have fond memories of because I came into some room for the evening, and I saw bedsheets and sleeping sacks there. And it was warm, it was very pleasant. The last thing I remember is that I caught hold of the bedpost and fell asleep on my feet. They woke us up a few hours later, saying we had to move on. We thought we were going against the Poles, but luckily we started returning to our barracks. People started saying it had only been an exercise. I don’t know what people say of it now, how it was seen by the people who didn’t participate in it, but we were going against the Poles. We were tremendously lucky not to have crossed the borders. I couldn’t imagine myself shooting at someone.”

  • “Military service was a haven for bullies. A young soldier didn’t have a moment’s rest the first half year. Especially in the afternoon, when the officers went home and only the unit’s supervisor remained, the rookies had to serve the older soldiers. Every old sweat had his ‘young one’. I got two. And because I had a golden tooth at the time, I got one old sweat with a golden tooth. When he came back from leave, usually after ten p.m. and somewhat tipsy, I had to go find him food and so on. I didn’t take it well, mentally, and I tried to show to myself that I’m a total foot rag. For example, we sometimes got processed cheese singles, and I saw that some of the soldiers would chuck them under the lockers that stood on the long stone corridors. When this drunk came home from his leave and started ordering me about, I took a loaf of bread out, cut a slice, used a broomstick to pull the cheeses out, and spread them on the bread. Of course, they were covered in dirt, hairs, etc. It looked awful. Seeing that he was tipsy, he started eating, crunching it with his teeth. He asked me what was in it. I promptly replied that it had cheese singles and mushrooms, but that the mushrooms are probably a bit old and brittle. Luckily, he believed me.”

  • “The weather was horrible during the transfer. It was freezing, 10 to 15 degrees below zero [Celsius]. I rode in a V3S, which only had canvas covering the hull. There was a little stove up front by the cabin, but it had no chance whatsoever to heat the place up. We couldn’t move, and we were all frozen stiff. I was terribly cold. I had a Panzerfaust with me, and I knew I mustn’t lose it, because otherwise they’d surely lock me up in Sabinov [a military prison - ed.]. We knew we were going at the Poles. The officers talked about it, they’d let something slip from time to time. They were also frightened. Suddenly, we weren’t idiots and imbeciles. I won’t forget my commander’s words: ‘You’ll be glad you’ve got those steel pots on your heads, in the end. They’ll come in handy now. You’re going up live now.’ Just the thought of shooting at someone made me feel all queasy. But on the other hand, there were also those among us who liked it, who were looking forward to getting a shot out. They wanted to be in the thick of it.”

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Praha, 14.10.2015

    (audio)
    duration: 01:03:34
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

Whenever I remember my time in the military, I feel awfully cold

František Netušil, 1980
František Netušil, 1980
photo: František Netušil

František Netušil was born on 22 June 1961 in Pilsen. In April 1980 he began his compulsory military service at the sapper battalion of the 17th Tank Regiment, with which he participated in the Krkonoše 1980 field exercise. After completing his service in spring 1982, he worked at a construction company in Prague 1. During the year 1989 he took part in demonstrations against the regime, but on 17 November he happened to be in Munich. In 2004 to 2014 he worked as an assistant carer at a youth institute.