Roman Nykodým

* 1931  

  • “I was the only storeman in the storeroom, where I was in charge of clothing for those 2000 prisoners. I was giving them a change of prison outfits, and then handing them civilian clothes when they were to go home. Even the boss there treated me well. In the storehouse there were suitcases, and rucksacks, and all sorts of things, and also radios, and I could thus listen to the radio every day while there. My boss was lieutenant Bogner, he was from Pilsen, I think. He was a good guy. Jiří Ješ from Free Europe was also in the Kartouzy prison, but he was there at a different time. When I spoke to him later, he told me that when he had been released, this lieutenant Bogner went with him all the way to the prison gate just to say good-bye to him. And another interesting memory of mine: One day I was riding a train from Prague to Lochovice, and suddenly I met this Bogner on the train, and we had a chat. It was kind of strange." Interviewer: "So he didn’t recognize you?" R. N.: "I think he knew it was me. But none of us revealed it. We just smiled at each other, and we simply remembered that time. I began by mentioning that I had been in Valdice, and he said: ´I was there, too...´”

  • “Daddy died under strange circumstances in the Pilsen hospital during a prostate gland surgery. It is a problem that every other man suffers from. But my father died in 1951 and while he was alive and working as a policeman, he tried to obtain the confirmation of his involvement in the resistance movement according to Act No. 255/46 Coll. He didn’t receive it; he only received it fifty years later in memoriam. What I have here is a letter from the deputy of the defense minister ing. Vladimír Šuman, dated from April 9, 1998. Among other things, he writes, that ´After careful investigation of the documented activity of your father I concluded that Mr. Nykodým’s intense and incessant efforts to help persons suffering from the Nazi persecution together with his personal courage during that time are a sufficient reason for his inclusion in the category of a participant on the local resistance movement according to § 1, Art. 1, section e) of Act No. 255/46 Coll.´ He also writes: ´For this reason I have decided to acknowledge your complaint lodged against the procedure of the issuance of the confirmation according to Act No. 255/46 Coll., and to confirm the involvement of Mr. Nykodým in the resistance movement throughout the entire time of the war, that is from March 15, 1939 till May 5, 1945.´”

  • “Father’s death was very suspicious. I was coming to visit him there, and he would always point with his finger to his mouth, to warn me not to speak in front of the others who were lying on the beds there. One of those men seemed really suspicious to me, and father would always say: ´You know, I cannot tell you this, but I only wonder why this and this didn’t happen. You know for yourself, for we had fought against fascism together, and you know what it was like.´ Father was very nervous and he insisted that there was ´Some mysterious danger threatening me, which I however cannot specify. But I fear for my life.´ And although I went to see him several times, and my mother also went to visit him in the hospital, we had the impression that it felt very disagreeable and dangerous in that hospital, but we didn’t know what to do. We asked Dad what we ought to do. He believed that it would all end well. The surgery was successful, there was no problem – but then he suddenly died. Then there was the funeral. The coffin was covered with a glass lid, which couldn’t be opened and we could thus see him only from above, and there were many flowers inside, so that the traces of blood on his head wouldn’t be visible, but I still saw them there. We all therefore came to believe that he had been murdered, and so I began talking to the doctors who had operated on him. I went to see them several times. Naturally, none of the doctors could afford to say the truth that he had been murdered. That doctor would have been murdered the very same day, then. But still I got to talk with one doctor, I don’t remember his name, but I have it written down somewhere. I asked him, and he hinted that the cause of death was questionable, that it was not clear what kind of physiological failure caused his death. This doctor was a high-ranking university professor. When I claimed that there had to be something else behind my father’s death, that there had been political reasons, and that his death was not natural, this professor was surprisingly kind to me. I tried to talk to other doctors, too, but they were all very unapproachable and cross with me, but this professor was really kind. He didn’t confirm that my father had been murdered, but he spoke very vaguely and considerately, so to speak, just as doctors do. When I was leaving, I was not angry, and nor was he, and we parted with a handshake.”

  • R. N.: “I remember that when the paratroopers’ deployment was scheduled, Dad was waiting there, and he came home very nervous. I didn’t see him, but there was something which made him so perturbed and restless. You could see that something was troubling him. You could see it in his eyes, in his movements, his words, his looks, you could see that he was facing something extraordinary, which just went wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong. You could see it in his eyes, movements, words...” Interviewer: “But your father was not the only one tasked with securing the landing place, right?” R. N.: “I don’t know.” Interviewer: “Couldn’t it be possible that some of his policemen were also there? Like Mr. Beneš...” R. N.: “We would have learnt about it afterward. But we didn’t.”

  • “What is important to mention is that when Kubiš and Gabčík, who limped and required medical care, returned to the addresses they had been provided with, the doctor in Rokycany treated him and he wrote a testimony about it. It was me who accompanied Gabčík to this doctor – I went there with him twice, but there were always other people at the doctor’s – all sorts of sneaks, who could have caused a great havoc, if… and so we had to go back. Eventually, Dad and another policeman, his colleague Beneš, took Gabčík to this family of this railway worker, who had three children, and Dad then brought the doctor to their house.” Interviewer: “That doctor’s name was Čáp, right?” R. N.: “Yes, his name was Čáp, indeed.”

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Praha, 31.05.2011

    (audio)
    duration: 02:01:16
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

“With the passing years I can say that we have survived only by a miracle.”

Mr. Roman Nykodým(3)
Mr. Roman Nykodým(3)
photo: FAMU

Mr. Roman Nykodým comes from a family of a policeman. The family moved whenever the father was transferred for duty. Mr. Nykodým was born on December 19, 1931 in Lochovice. As a young boy, he met Czechoslovak airmen at the local airfield in Zbiroh, some of whom were later to become elite pilots in the RAF. After another transfer to Rokycany, his father joined the resistance movement and he was tasked with handing over messages which were to be radio-transmitted to London. He was expecting the deployment of the paratroopers’ group Anthropoid in Ejpovice. The paratroopers later spent a night in the Nykodým family’s house during the failed bombardment of Pilsen. The father evaded arrest during the war. He was also involved in the detention of K. H. Frank in Rokycany, and Roman Nykodým’s sister’s villa served as a place for Frank’s interrogation. A meeting with General Patton took place in the same house. The father died in hospital after the war under very strange circumstances - Roman Nykodým is convinced that his death was actually a politically-motivated murder. Roman Nykodým attempted to study after the war, but he was eventually expelled from school. He personally knew the poet Václav Hrabě from Lochovice. In the 1960s, he was sentenced and became acquainted with many Catholic priests who were imprisoned with him. He helped Father Josef Zvěřina secretly send out his writings from the prison, which were later used for Zvěřina’s book Teologie Agapé. After his return from prison he worked in the waste water treatment facility in the paper mill in Lochovice, where he accidentally came upon discarded documents from the Secret Police. He used these records and documents in court proceedings when he served as a public defender of Gipsy families from Rokycany. At present he lives in Prague-Modřany.