Emílie Pecová

* 1922  †︎ 2010

  • “In 1939 the Russian Army arrived. Polish state had rewarded the Polish veterans of the First World War with farmplaces in Volhynia. My aunt had taken one of these farms. After the Russian Army occupied the place deportations of settlers to Siberia started. My aunt was among them. Russians came at night and forced all to stand themselves against a wall. Soldiers loaded some eiderdowns on a carriage and drove my relatives to town. There they put them in a train and journey to Siberia followed. In the middle of nowhere people got out in a deep snow. Axes were distributed: ‘You will live here. Build barracks for yourselves.’ Russians were deporting people at night on principal. When we heard a car stooped in front of our house, we got up and dressed quickly to be ready for deportation. But our family was lucky. We were not deported. My uncle got ill with tuberculosis in Siberia. They had three children. The whole family of my aunt had been deported. (Q.: ‘Did they survive?’) As I have said, my uncle got ill with tuberculosis. We were told the best treatment of it provided goats' milk. Uncle needed a permit from the state authorities to buy a goat. Moreover he had no money to buy it. So we tried to collect money among our friends, but it was too late. He had already died when we sent the money to him. His oldest son later enlisted Czechoslovakian Foreign Army which had been forming in USSR. Thus he met general Pika who later helped him to get his mother, sister and brother back home to Volhynia.”

  • “I remember the first day when I experienced the war in the battle line. We were told we were going to fight. A high wooded rock face loomed in front of us. Germans were positioned there. Our troops lied open to them. General Kratochvil protested against an assault in the pass of Dukla. He knew a lot of soldiers would fell in the battle in vain. But Stalin had ordered the operation. He wanted heavy casualties among Czechoslovakian troops from Volhynia. He was afraid of their anti-Soviet propaganda. Soldiers were dying in dozens when our attack began. It was horrible. I will never forget it, so many young men fell there. I was lucky, I have survived. The carnage started just before the time of meal… When we had arrived to Dukla, it had been raining heavily; deep mud covered the ground all around the place. But I was not afraid at all. I don’t know why. Today maybe I would be afraid, but at that time? I don’t want to show off. Once I went to sleep into a small bunker after a night duty. I fell asleep while the savage battle erupted. I have heard rumbling, but I considered it was a thunder. The battlefield trembled under the heavy shelling. A girl who was overwhelmed by fear woke me up if I have heard the shelling. But I drove her away: ‘Let me sleep! I don’t care about shelling.’”

  • “Then Germans arrived. There was not much fighting. A lot of Russian soldiers surrendered without resistance. They thought they would live better than they had lived in USSR if they would surrender. But Germans put them to a nearby sand pit to heavy work without any proper food supplies. All the prisoners died there. From time to time we had cooked a kettle of soup for them, but we could not feed the prisoners all the time. Almost all died of hunger. Such behavior was one of the reason why Germans lost the war.”

  • “In our neighborhood had lived a Jewish family with two daughters and a son. One of the daughters had been married and had a small daughter. The head of the family visited us once and begged my father for adopting the child. He offered us as much gold as we would ask in return. But my father was afraid to adopt the girl because of Ukrainians who would denounce us. It would mean a concentration camp for the whole family. So we refused the offer. It was extremely dangerous. Germans were treating Jews with severe cruelty. For example they promised to Jewish sons they would let them go if they would help to slaughter the rest of their families. Germans formed a kind of a militia from the Jewish sons who had trusted the promise. So the Jews help to slaughter their relatives. But finally Germans murdered them too. We thought it was deserved punishment for their behavior. Next to our house lied a sand pit. If a hole had been dug out there in the morning, we knew something was going to happen. People were escorted across our garden. A German soldier was waiting by the hole. Each of detainees had to approach the hole. The soldier shot him and the victim fell in. Next detainee followed… It was horrible.”

  • “When the frontlines moved across our county a German headquarters was established in our village for a period of time. But Germans behaved passably. They didn’t dare anything towards us. Russian soldiers treated us in a different way. My room was occupied by a commander of a Russian regiment. I had to move to my parent’s room. On one occasion we cooked with my mother in the kitchen. An adjutant came: ‘Our commander wants you to visit him’. The commander stood at the doorway: ‘Who do you love here?’ I answered: ‘I love you all because you are people.’ He apologized me and let me go. I wondered what had happened. Later in the evening soldiers brought a girl-soldier. He wanted to lie with me. He thought I would be compliant, but when I put him off she had to sleep with him instead.”

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    Mariánské Lázně, 13.02.2007

    duration: 01:03:32
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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“A high wooded rock face loomed in front of us. Germans were positioned there. Our troops lied open to them. When we had arrived to Dukla, it had been raining heavily; deep mud covered the ground all around the place.”

Emilie Pecová before war
Emilie Pecová before war
photo: archiv pamětníka

Emilie Pecová was born on the 21st of March in 1922 in Volhynia, where her family ran a farm near the town Luck. She attended a local Czech elementary school, and then was trained in dressmaking. Her uncle’s family was deported to Siberia in 1939 after the Russian Army occupied Volhynia. Her uncle did not survive the labor camp. After the Nazi occupation in 1941 Pecová witnessed slaughtering of the local Jewish community in a nearby sand pit. She enlisted in the Czechoslovakian army of General Svoboda in 1944 in order to avoid forced labor in the Donbas area. The first day on the battlefield she experienced the Dukla pass. She served as a wire operator; therefore she spent most of the fighting in the rear and was not injured. She arrived with the Army to Prague across Slovakia. After the war, she left the army and settled in Chomutov on an abandoned German farm. In 1948, she moved to Mariánské Lázně. She had studied in Pilsen to become a birth assistant. After she finished the school she worked at a hospital in Mariánské Lázně. Emilie Pecová died on July 9, 2010.