Jan Pecka

* 1927  †︎ 2024

  • "So I came back from the army on the 21st of October. And my brother tells me that Václav Jakeš is hiding here. He had arrived sometime at the beginning of the month, so when I returned, he had already been here for a fortnight or so. He sometimes went for walks in the evening. But not far. Our land was around like this. He also walked to Lašovice, twice maybe. As a Catholic, he wanted to go to confession. It was hay day each day for him, so to speak. But then he would come by the house. He wove wicker baskets, from willow switches. Or when Mum was making something, he would help her out, say by coring apples. He helped us store corn in the barn, for a few days he would be there helping to remove the sheaves. We had to watch out that there was no one passing by. There was a path leading round here, the local secretary used to walk this way to Kosobudy - we were headed under Kosobudy - and he would walk that path maybe every day. He was a communist. One time, that was 1960, it happened there was this one chap from the manor house, Habart, and he was hauling corn, or some such resource. And his tractor capsized out back of the cottage, trailer and all. So he went up to our house. I happened to be away. He came to the house and Jakeš was here also. So Habart saw him. So I don't know - did he tell on him, did he not? But he did say that he had seen a strange man here... One Sunday soon after, we saw a car coming up our way. And Jakeš happened to be in the house again, so we said: 'Go hide yourself! There're some chaps coming along! They're coming this way.' So he climbed into the back, I had my bed there, so he climbed under the bed. Well, and one of the [electrician's - ed.] came in, the other waited outside. And he said they were just checking the electricity, to check on how we have it done. So he went through all the rooms, and he saw the bed was untidy, I hadn't made it when I'd goten up in the morning, I'd left it how it was. And he said: 'Who sleeps here?' I said: 'I do.' So he went through the whole house, checked the attic and the cellar too... Well this other time, Fort [?], he was a neighbour from uphill, he came to visit one evening and Jakeš happened to be in the sitting room, he'd been listening to the radio. The door was only on a latch, it wasn't locked, so the neighbour came along, tried the handle and knocked a few times, so we had to open the door to him. Jakeš didn't have time to escape, so he hid under the bench, and he was there for an hour or two. All broken up afterwards, from how he was scrunched up. I was sitting here at the table, it's the same one as it was then..."

  • "I don't think he [Bohumil Šíma, leader of the anti-communist resistance group Black Lion 777 - ed.] was a terrorist. But it was a rash thing, what he did. Because he didn't defeat the regime by doing it! They would've known that if they were found out, it would cost them their lives. And it did cost them their lives. If I had known about that at the time, known what they were planning to do, I would've warned them against it. When I realize how the [communists - ed.] took control of everything in 1948, they had all the power in their hands, how could ordinary people stop them? The Mašíns for instance [brothers who shot several people and fought their way out of the country - transl.]... I'm surprised some people consider them criminals. When I went to school, we were taught about the period of Recatholicization following 1620 [Battle at White Mountain - transl.], how people fled with wagons and all, taking a piece of the country with them as a keepsake, and no one chased them out! They could leave the kingdom. And then in 1948, when someone was trying to flee the country, it was just with a briefcase and with bullets in his steps at the border, shot at like cattle. How did we come to that? Jirásek [19th cent. Czech writer of historical novels - transl.] wrote about those old times, we called it the "Dark Age". So what about what the communists did here? Say Karel Havlíček Borovský [19th cent. Czech journalist - transl.], he was sent to Brixen, and he fought against the empire, he wrote against it and he wasn't damned, just sent away. When someone wanted to flee, he could. They condemned what happened after White Mountain, but here [under the communists - ed.] it was: shooting people, killing them like cattle, humans were worth less than animals... Better to say no more, really, you could get a fit just thinking about it."

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    Zadní Chlum u Milevska, 10.04.2008

    duration: 01:22:55
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When I got back from the army, my brother told me we were hiding Václav Jakeš.

Jan Pecka
Jan Pecka
photo: USTR

Jan Pecka was born in 1927 in the hamlet of Zadní Chlum near Milevsko into a traditional farmer family. The Peckas have tended to the land on their estate for centuries. Jan Pecka completed elementary school in the nearby village of Lašovice, where he also went to church. He was greatly influenced by the parish priest Father Hejl, who had been through both Nazi and Communist imprisonment. In 1949 Jan Pecka was drafted into compulsory military service in Domažlice. On returning home in the autumn of 1951 he was told that Václav Jakeš was hiding out in their barn, a fugitive hunted by State Security in connection with resistance activity in the Sedlačany and Milevsko area. Václav Jakeš had been brought in by a friend of the Peckas, Kořánek. Although the family did not know the youngster from the nearby Branišovice, they decided to provide him with food and shelter for some time. However they did not think he would stay as long as he did - nearly 16 years. When Jan Pecka’s father died in 1953, his sons and widow took over the responsibility for managing the farm and family matters. Thanks to their selflessness, Václav Jakeš weathered out the worst of the communist repressions, and turned himself in to the police in 1966. Jan Pecka tended to the family estate in Zadní Chlum. He passed away on January, the 16th, 2024.