Květa Pěničková

* 1934

  • “We knew that a big armed force would still arrive in Chuchle. Someone came up with the idea that there was an abandoned quarry and mineshaft above Chuchle, and he gave the order that all inhabitants should go there and hide. I have a bad memory of that. At the time my father was somewhere on the barricades, and Mum was at home getting something to drink for the Vlasovites that had come to us. So I was there alone, with the other children, anxiously awaiting my parents. The quarry was about a kilometre and a half away from our house, in the direction of Slivenec. It was organised by some officers of the Czechoslovak army. It was six in the evening and my parents were nowhere to be seen. And the officers kept repeating that they would have to have the entrance to the shaft blown shut so that the Germans couldn’t get in when they arrived. It was getting dark. Finally Mum arrived. She brought with her a wooden cart with some of our belongings. A duvet, a pillow, and one suitcase with some food. I was already raving, continually going up to the officers and begging them: ‘Please, don’t blow it closed yet! I still don’t have my Daddy here!’ So they hesitated and in the end Dad did arrive. They had to retreat as the odds were overwhelmingly against them. And then someone here realised that it wasn’t possible to blow up the entrance and close us in, because the mineshaft wasn’t explored, it wasn’t clear if the people might maybe suffocate inside etcetera. So they left it open. At half past twelve in the night we heard gunfire from down below. And someone told my father that he was on the list of those who would be executed. That it was in the works. The Germans had been invited to Chuchle by one Mrs Baráčková. She was a Czech German, a fanatical Nazi. She communicated with the Germans through some kind of transmitter device, and she informed them of everything. So the army came, dragged the people out of the mineshaft, and instituted martial law. And the people who were known to have fought on the barricades in Prague or here at the racing track, they were to be executed. But Dad found out about it in time. So we didn’t wait for a moment, we took the cart and legged it away from Chuchle. To Slivenec, Ořech, and onwards.”

  • “My father went grey during the war. And I learnt how to pray very intensely. Because one time Dad went by himself to Petschek’s Palace. It happened thus: In our house there lived a certain Mr Mašek, who tried all sorts of tricks and slander against my father to obtain our flat. Dad would go to work with one Mr Bláha, also from Velká Chuchle, who endorsed the Nazis during the war and was then a clerk at the Petschekery. When they were standing on Wenceslas Square one time, watching Hitler’s arrival, my father declared: ‘If I had a machine gun, I would take the beast down right here, no matter what happened.’ But Mr Bláha asked him never to say anything like that in front of him again. He didn’t take it any further, luckily. So Dad went to visit him one time at the Petchekery. And he, like every Nazi, was grooming ‘his Jew’, his back door in case Germany lost. And so instead of complying with the arrest that Mašek was suggesting, he sent my father home and sent [Mr Mašek] away from Prague for a year for excessive blackmailing of half-Jewish families.”

  • “After the war the German army was taken from Prague and put into the Zbraslav Camp. People with bandaged heads, some even crawling on all fours. In Chuchle we had one ‘good citizen’ who collaborated with the Germans during the war. He lived in a secluded cottage in the forest, and one time a transport passed him by headed to the concentration camp. Two of the poor blighters were somehow able to escape, and they climbed up into his loft. Not only did he not help them, but he even told on them. And then he wanted to show his zeal and to clean himself. So he found himself a large piece of wood, and he went to the road and started bashing the soldiers on their battered heads. My father called on a few friends and they went to protect the soldiers.”

  • “This is how my partner, Hans Baier, remembered the Revolutionary Guard. Back then they had arrived in Bučina, where they terrorised the local inhabitants. They gathered up all the men older than fourteen years of age to Hotel Fastner, which used to stand there. The interrogations began and Hans and his father were first up, according to the alphabet. First they took the father. They rest waited in a room nearby. They didn’t know what was going on. His father didn’t return. Then they took the son. He went through a kind of corridor, and received a couple of slaps from each of the Guardists. He then came to a table where a man sat who spoke fluent Czech. The man showed him a paperweight with a swastika on it. The man asked him what it was. He answered, of course, that it was a hakenkreuz. Wham, they gave him one. Then he showed him Hitler and the same was repeated. Finally, he said: ‘You attended grammar school in Prachatice. That was a Nazi school, they brought you up in Nazism.’ They they knocked him down and beat him so badly that they smashed in a kidney. They beat them black and blue and then threw them into the cellar. Down the stairs like a piece of rag. He kept wondering where his dad was. Semi-conscious as he was he heard some groans. And then he fell right on top of his dad. The second day they dragged them out of the cellar. They couldn’t see for the bruises they had, they could hardly crawl. They gave them a saw and made them saw wood the whole day while constantly repeating: Heil Hitler, Heil Hitler, Heil Hitler…”

  • “Franz Pösl lived alone in the forest, in a seclusion not far from Zlatá Studna. He had a lot going for him and he realised he was in danger. That if they caught someone and beat them up, he would be betrayed. And that happened and they came to get him. Because they knew he was an old smuggler, in good physical condition and brave, and that he would be able to escape them, they came up with a trap. They came to him saying they had been bogged down in the forest, if he wouldn’t lend them a plank. He brought them one and they said: ‘We’re arresting you.’ ”

  • Full recordings
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    Nové Hutě, 11.01.2014

    duration: 02:36:50
    media recorded in project Iron Curtain Stories
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

I’d like to know if people today would be willing to sacrifice themselves for others like it happened in many cases during Nazism and Communism

Květa Pěničková six years old
Květa Pěničková six years old
photo: archiv Květy Pěničkové

Květa Pěničková was born on 26 March 1934 as the only child of the glass-blower František Voda from Velká Chuchle. During World War II and especially in the days of the Prague Revolt, she and her parents experienced a number of dramatic situations, for example the declaration of martial law and the execution of citizens of Chuchle. After the Communist coup in February 1948 her father became a victim of nationalisation and the bullying of small traders, and Květa was prevented from studying at university. The whole family was profoundly affected by these injustices and by the dark atmosphere of those times. Apart from a loathing for the Communist regime, the fourteen-year-old Květa began to interest herself in the stories of people fleeing from Communism to the West, which she heard on Radio Free Europe. She retained this interest in fugitives, border guides, agents, and the complex issues of the Iron Curtain throughout her whole life. Květa Pěničková’s activities culminated in her becoming one of the initiators and organisers of the construction of a monument to border guides near Františkov u Kvildy. During the years of her research she made a lot of personal and epistolary friendships with the people thus affected, and she now passes on their memories and her own to the future generations.