Private Jarmila Pelčáková

* 1922  

  • “Gustav Svoboda and I were old friends from grammar school. As he knew that I and my father were involved in some activities he came to me to complain that he’d have to go into exile because otherwise he’ll probably get arrested. I told my father about it and we discussed the issue. My father was a glass worker and had friends in Květná Stráň, the site of a glass-works. One day Gustav showed up and said: “Here’s my brother, here’s another Svoboda and these are my friends from Hranice and we all need to get out of here…”. We first set out to Valašský Klobúky, but the border crossing there wasn’t possible so we stayed with my uncle in Uherský Brod for five days and then I took them to the border. Of course there were some tears when we said good bye to each other. Afterwards I was thinking a lot about it and I regretted that I didn’t leave with them. I was a young girl, a single child and I was afraid. Everybody dissuaded me from doing it. In the end, however, I strongly regretted that I didn’t go with them.”

  • “After my father’s death I was frightened and I wasn’t sure I’m not under surveillance. I believed I was being watched. I faced the risk that as a proscribed daughter I’d be sent for forced-labor to the Reich. To get married was the only way to save myself.”

  • “We had a great Latin professor, his name was Dr. Dlouhý. Instead of Latin he started to teach us Czech history. He instructed us on the proper behavior under the circumstances (the German occupation). Kyjov was at first occupied by Austrian soldiers. Most of them spoke Czech and when they talked to people they claimed that wonderful times are setting in and that Hitler is a great guy. Our professor Dlouhý once came into class and he was furies, his face was all red. He was mad at us and rebuked us. A lot of the young students didn’t know exactly what the matter is. The seventeen-year-olds today don’t care either about what’s going on around the world. Quite a few of the youngsters believed the nonsense the Austrian soldiers were telling them in those days. Only later did they realize that it’s all a deceit. In the beginning, when the occupants came, the people didn’t know really what to do and what to make of it.”

  • Jarmila Pelčáková: “We only exchanged a few letters through my uncle Stanislav Adam who lived abroad. I sent letters for Gustav to him. But I was thinking of him constantly.” Gustav Svoboda: “I couldn’t write letters. But I was shown a part of the letters under the provision that I wouldn’t tell anybody. It was intelligence material. There were spies among the soldiers. Two were arrested but there possibly were more. If someone had found out they might have tracked the source back to Kyjov. So I had to remain silent about it for the duration of the war. I even got two photos.”

  • “I was a child of the first republic and a stalwart Sokol adherent. For me the republic was the first and the last. Therefore when the trouble started I immediately looked at how I could be of help. My father joined the resistance movement, he became a member of the DoN organization and I was more or less his assistant. Where possible we would help. My father eventually paid dearly for it. I was, thank the Lord, saved. The liberation of our country really was the cause we were prepared to give our lives for back then. I as a seventeen or eighteen-year old student would have considered it to be an honor to be shot for that cause. At that point I considered it to be a duty that everyone had to fulfill. Unfortunately not everybody thought that way.”

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    ?, 22.07.2002

    (audio)
    duration: 24:40
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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We’re all led to love our country and we regarded President Masaryk as a god

Jarmila Pelčáková was born in 1922. Her father worked in the glass-works in Kyjov. He was a master-glassworker and the chief of the local trade-union. Her mother stayed in the household. Jarmila was a single child. She holds her childhood dear and likes to remember her parents. She also went to the Sokol (a youth movement like the Scout). Her character was strongly formed by her relationship toward the country. She graduated from high school in 1941, a year later she started to work in the rubber-works in Napajedla in the Fatra mountains. Jarmila’s father started to cooperate with the resistance movement “Obrana národa” (Defense of the Nation - DoN). He didn’t want to expose his daughter to direct threat and therefore didn’t fully introduce her to the events related to the resistance. Jarmila participated in the resistance as his aide. She only accomplished individual tasks that she got from her father. For instance, she assisted people in crossing the border. Jarmila’s father was arrested by the Gestapo in 1942 and shot within a week. As she was also at great risk she had to move and then marry in 1943 in order to change her name. She thought that she’d get divorced again after the war but by then she already had two children. After the war she got trained as a birth assistant. She wasn’t allowed to study at a university. She was writing articles for the district agrarian newspaper and she started distance studies at the University of Agriculture. For some time she also worked for the TV-broadcasting network in Brno. In 2001, after almost sixty years, she by chance got in touch with her beloved Colonel Gustav Svoboda again, whom she had helped to emigrate during the war.