Zdeněk Ondruš

* 1921  †︎ 2014

  • “The fields there were not tilled. There were only pastures, and cattle usually grazed on them. The Hungarians before us had been cultivating only some elevated pieces of land, because everywhere around there were swamps. We therefore built canals in order to drain the area. It was already better at the time when we were leaving. The land has been tilled, and it was a good land, a fertile land.”

  • “My brother-in-law undressed completely and he left his clothes and his rifle at the dike of the water canal and he went for a swim. Suddenly he turned around and he saw a Hungarian soldier who was sitting by his clothes, a rifle laid on his knees, and smiling at him. My brother-in-law put his clothes on and he did not say a word because he could not speak Hungarian. Then they shook hands and each of them went his way. There were also farmers Vaněk and Čapek who lived on the border, they grew tobacco. They had a group of friends and they played cards with Hungarian soldiers. People in the border region were friends.”

  • “Processions of miserable people from concentration camps were passing over the Štěpanský Bridge towards Obříství and Chlumín. Somebody told us that they were stopping in Chlumín and that if we could, we should bring them some food there. We killed pigs and we cooked thick soups, because you could not bring anything else to them. And we were also going to Chlumín, too, and it took several days before the processions passed.”

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    V bytě pamětníka, 04.10.2014

    duration: 58:42
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

I have left a part of my heart in Carpathian Ruthenia

Zdeněk Ondruš in 1944
Zdeněk Ondruš in 1944
photo: Rodinný archiv pamětníka

Zdeněk Ondruš was born September 5, 1921 in the village Třebovice near Ostrava. His parents were farmers, and his father served in Russia as a Czechoslovak legionary during WWI. In 1923 the family made use of an offer of the General Housing Cooperative for Construction of Residence Colonies and they moved to Carpathian Ruthenia where they settled on one of the farms in Malý Bakoš near the Hungarian border. When his father died in 1935, Zdeněk as the eldest son took over the farm management. The family managed to improve the surrounding land, but on October 25, 1938 after the take over of Carpathian Ruthenia by Hungary they had to move back to Czechoslovakia. Before 1945 they farmed at a farm in the village Koprník - Násedlnice for a short time, but the farm was then taken over by Germans and so they had to move to another farm in Kopeč near Odolena Voda where they stayed until the end of the war. In the last months of war they were hiding a deserter from the Wehrmacht who was of Czech-German origin. For several days they were watching transports of prisoners from concentration camps and they were bringing them food. For several days at the end of the war they were also providing a hiding place for a Russian fugitive who managed to escape from the transport. After the war they obtained a farm in Vrbice near Litoměřice, where Zdeněk’s family has been living ever since. Zdeněk Ondruš willingly joined the local agricultural cooperative, and in 1953 he became its chairman. In 1963 he was awarded the Order of the Hop in Strasbourg and in 1968 the Czechoslovak president Svoboda decorated him with the Order of Labour. He died on December 27, 2014.