Ing. Jaroslav Pek

* 1919  †︎ 2012

  • “My mother, she felt it immediately. She had to hunt for food, which was really rare. Vegetables, beetroot and so on and also black bread. Sometimes white, all the Russians saw it some kind of a miracle. I also noticed the children at school that they are pretty poor. Finally I asked my friend, who I sat at the table, the mathematician, to come and visit us. My mother gave him, what she baked. They were buying just the basic foods - flour, sometimes milk, rarely meat. And when we gave it to him, he saw it for the first time in his life and kept talking about it. But they were used to live that way, just took it normally. They suffered only seemingly – from our point of view –, but didn’t feel it that way themselves.”

  • “There I applied and started working in a workshop. That was also interesting. All prisoners could apply so even those, who have never seen a hammer nor file, did too. But the Germans soon found out that there is a number of people, who cannot work really. So they began examining us. Though I worked in a factory, but as a clerk, which I´ve never done before either. He gave me a drawing and asked me what it was. There were circles next to each other. They taught me those in a Russian school. Finally I answered it was a sectional spring, and he didn’t ask any more, just ordered me to take a file, the civilian German and so then I worked manually.”

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    U pamětníka, Praha, 10.01.2008

    duration: 02:58:00
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

Working less meant survival

J. Pek, a historical picture
J. Pek, a historical picture
photo: Pamětník, V. Janík

Jaroslav Pek was born in Týn nad Vltavou on 14 December, 1919. During the economic crisis his father lost a job at a bankrupted sawmill. A communist idea resonated in the family, the father was a member since its establishment in 1921 and Jaroslav was active in the Communist Union of Youth. In 1931 the family left to Ukraine Kharkov. They returned to Czechoslovakia in 1937. After the war broke out, Jaroslav joined the National Movement of Working Youth and resistance activity. He was distributing leaflets, was a connection, helped families of imprisoned members of resistance. They were hiding people at home, amongst others also Julius Fučík. Jaroslav was arrested by the gestapo, was interrogated and a month later transported to concentration lager Mauthausen. He worked in several jobs there - from quarry to carpenter, where he met his father, to the Steyr factory. Finally in 1944 he was sent to Auschwitz, where they needed car mechanic. After evacuation of the lager in January 1945 he got to Germany. After war he happily reunited with his father. Jaroslav began working with agricultural machines and then was active at the Communist Central Committee and at the Governmental Office. He cooperated also with Rudolf Slánský or Ota Šik. In 1968 he stood up against the Warsaw pact army troops’ invasion and could only work in lower ranks from then though still at the Governmental Office. After 1989 he together with other prisoners of the concentration lager Mauthausen was issuing a magazine Mauthausen block. He died on 16 November 2012 in Prague.