Second Lieutenant (ret.) Vincenc Novák

* 1929  

  • “They trained us but they did not tell us where we were going to go. They asked us only a fortnight before our departure. ‘Tell me, who doesn´t want to go? We as ‘berets‘ could not say that a soldier would not go.” - “And if you could say it, would you go or not?” - “I would not go. I was married and had children at home. To go away, not to know for how long and if I ever come back? We set off the journey and were between Kiev and Moscow when the armistice was signed in Korea. We were going to a proper war. That is how it looked.”

  • “They took all the men, they shot my grandfather dead and my father and others were forced to go to the regional town of Bjelovar. Dad and some others came back. The others went to a concentration camp and did not come back.” - “Are you talking about 1943?” - “Yes, it was around that time.” “Were you there when it happened?” - “Yes. They took them in the evening, they were near the building under the gutter, it was raining the whole night. They lined them up around ten o´clock in the morning. A machine gun was in front of them and if someone had moved, they would have fired. They forced them to go to Bjelovar and some of them did not come back. My father and some others came back.” - “So, did the Wehrmacht soldiers take them away?” - “They were Wehrmacht soldiers, they were Germans.”

  • “Well, partisans... We lived halfway between a forest and a village, it was 300 metres to the forest and 300 metres to the village. They would stop at our place because there was a sunken lane leading from our house to the forest, so they would come to the sunken lane and asked us if they could. Or I would go and have a look if something was there.”

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    Brno, 04.08.2020

    (audio)
    duration: 01:14:14
    media recorded in project Příběhy regionu - JMK REG ED
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We went to Korea to war

Vincenc Novák during his military service in 1952
Vincenc Novák during his military service in 1952
photo: witness´s archive

Vincenc Novák was born on 27 March 1929 to a Czech family in the village of Begovača in Croatia which was at that time part of Yugoslavia - the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes. During the World War II, he witnessed the terror of the Croatian Ustaša movement and the Nazi soldiers. When he was fourteen years old, he started to cooperate with partisans, he worked as a messenger and he spied for them. Neither of his parents (Karel and Barbora Novák) lived to see the end of the war. Vincenc and his relatives immigrated back to Czechoslovakia in 1946 where the government gave him a house after the displaced Germans. He found work in agriculture. He spent his military service from 1951 as a lorry driver. The military headquarters sent him to the Korean War in July 1953 to oversee the armistice as a member of the Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission. First, he drove there a car with a radio station and later he developed films in a darkroom documenting the activities of the commission. He returned to civilian life after two and a half years. He spent the majority of his life working in an agriculture cooperative in Jiřice u Miroslavi. In 2000, he was recognized for his resistance activities, he was extraordinarily promoted to the rank of retired second lieutenant and in 2007 he was recognized as a war veteran.