PhDr. Jan Orlický

* 1924

  • „The only preparations we made for an uprising was the sewing of Czechoslovakian, American, British and Soviet flags from all possible sheets we find. Then we were just waiting when it comes out into open. When radio broadcasted: ‘we are no more broadcasting in German, the Germans are closing in on us, help us, help us...,’ my mother made a phone call to our relatives who lived in Vinohrady. When she asked what the situation was over there, they answered: ‘quite good, all houses are covered with flags’. We decided to hang out our flags immediately. As we started some German soldier shoot at us. But our balcony was build from bricks so we cowered ourselves and hanged out the flags regardless the shooting. The shooting quickly ceased, because the street was suddenly covered with flags.”

  • „We were lucky right away the first day of May uprising because Germans had a store of arsenal right in a garage block. Gestapo escaped a month before the revolution. They had left there piles of hand grenades, so in Dejvice anyone could took as much hand grenades as he could carry. We saw three armed German soldiers running away. Four of us decided to pursue them with hand grenades. We cowered anytime they stopped and pointed their guns at us. When they started to run, we did the same. We had no real plan and we just chase after them. But one German stemmed the tide of our action. In Dejvice had lived lot of Germans. One of us was shot dead. He died before our eyes. Our grenades we used later when we were disarming the German soldiers.”

  • “In Germany in a mountain chain Harz we had been building a narrow gauge railway. There I have experienced an extreme hunger, which I would not wish to anybody. All the day my mind was completely overwhelmed by thoughts on food. I got one small loaf of bread for the whole week. I outlined six lines across it and each day I could eat only one slice. I followed this rule strictly, but every time I cut off a slice I thought the cutting was too bulging. So I took my knife and leveled ‘the bulge’. I get so used to this manner during these few months in Harz, that six more months I had a compulsion for the same practice anytime I was cutting bread.”

  • „I can’t say there was no fighting in Dejvice, but only one side waged the fight. Lot of German flats were all around. If someone shot at you through a chink, the whole street resounded with the shot, so it was absolutely impossible to find the shooter. Once I was guarding a barricade and just few centimeters wide from my hand the barricade was hit by a bullet. I experienced an internment as well. The case was one Russian woman working for Germans. When we had captured her she refused to be cut, which we usually did. She defended herself she was a Russian. In nearby house I learned she was a mistress of one SS-man. I took her to her home and started searching the room. Suddenly I spoke to her in Russian. She became to shake, when I told her I knew her past. We interned her and wrote a report about her. But finally, when Russian army arrived, she successfully hoodwinked one of the Russian commanders with the same story and got away.”

  • “At the beginning of March we decided to sneak away because of rapidly approaching frontline. We heard the artillery shelling already. We took a train which was completely overcrowded. There remained no free space even on the roof. Finally I found one unoccupied buffer between two wagons. I was leaving despite my wounded severed muscle. I hurt my leg during unloading rails. When we arrived to Leipzig the city was bombed to dust. With other travelers we hobbled trough the streets and took another train. Guards were searching the crowd at railway stations, but in chaos of those days we passed without problems. In Dresden the situation was even worse. Only ruins of destroyed houses loomed all around the railway station.”

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Praha, 23.01.2008

    duration: 01:47:01
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

We hanged out the flags regardless the shooting. The shooting quickly ceased, because suddenly the street was covered with flags

Jan Orlický
Jan Orlický
photo: jan hornik

PhDr. Jan Orlický was born on 14th November 1924 in Prague. After Orlicky finished a high school he was called to forced labor into the Third Reich in Upper Silesia in a mountain chain Harz. In time the frontline approached the camp after the Easter 1945, he escaped to Czechoslovakia. In Prague he took active role in the May uprising. He had been disarming Germans and he took part in building barricades as well. After the war he had studied philosophy and sociology at Charles University. Two years he worked as temporary teacher in the borderland. Then he had to take up job in coal mines near Kladno in order to get permission to return to Prague at the beginning of the fifties. In Prague he shortly worked in The Enlightenment institute of ÚNV Praha, until he was fired for criticizing a communist functionary. Then he had passed trough several manual jobs till he got a place at Academy of Science as a documentarist. After he signed a resolution supporting Dubcek’s leadership he was fired again, but he succeeded to pretend a mental illness until he got an invalidity pension. Finally Orlicky choose a literary career. He wrote more than ten books.