Alois Peyr

* 1935

  • “I don’t know where it was, but it was somewhere still on the borders, where we were locked up in a cellar and guarded by soldiers. It was in winter, so there was some kind of heating. Around nine or ten p.m. a soldier came to guard us, with a sub-machine gun - and he was drunk. So he fell asleep in the warmth within a few minutes. And he had the gun next to him. And I took the sub-machine gun and woke up my friend, and I wanted to persuade him [to make a run for it - trans.]. Of course, he was shocked to see me with the gun, that we could escape. Because it was possible to escape from the cellar - there were bars there, but no lock, it was kind of a temporary thing. He refused the suggestion, of course, and in the end I knew that we could’ve gotten into enormous trouble. So I gave it up. The main thing I wanted was to have a friend. So I put the gun back next to the soldier, I stood it there by the bed and went to sleep.”

  • “When he [the interrogator - ed.] was fed up of beating me, he invited the chauffeurs up from the garage, and they finished me off. And it’s just one moment like that when you can loose your nerves, so I kicked him while he was beating me. I still had my cuffs on, I was still tied up - they’d sat me on a chair and tied me to it so I couldn’t protect my face while they beat me. At that moment, I don’t know why, I was standing, and when he beat me, I kicked him between the legs. I had these kind of boots on, several sizes too big, some kind of work boots. So he must have felt that in his crotch. So they thrashed me to bits in such a way that I peed blood for three days and was bruised all over. So they taught me what to expect from Socialism.”

  • “I can tell one story, when I planned to escape from Cheb Prison. I exercised, and after a time I was able to do 750 knee bends - you know what knee bends are. I thought I’d got myself into proper form. That’s also why I started wearing glasses. Because I heard that the doctor in Cheb Prison wasn’t an eye specialist, and so people who need eye treatment had to be taken to the hospital in Cheb. A normal hospital. People were taken there by the guard who was abnormally fat. Which meant what - that he was immobile. And you observed all of that because there’s nothing else for you to do but to observe what each guard is like, so you can use that information somehow. And so I reported that I had bad eyesight, because I presumed that he’d take me to the hospital and I’d escape. Because I knew that by the time he pulled his revolver out, I’d be long gone. Unfortunately, it was in June, a lovely warm day, superbly fresh air, full of scents... and I walked out of the prison in irons. I don’t know if the police today even know them because those cuffs could be opened quite easily without mechanical assistance. So I opened the cuffs and prepared to escape. But my feet felt heavy as lead. When I breathed in that wonderful air outside, after coming out of the holes where we lived, my feet were completely incapable of starting up to any amount of speed. In the end I actually had to lock myself back into the cuffs so they wouldn’t know I had been planning to escape. By myself, of course.”

  • "I remember I stood on the pavement, suddenly some bloke on a motorbike rode up and said: 'What happened?' He turned to us. I said: 'Someone blew up a Russian memorial here.' And he said: 'Just thorns and more of the same!' and rode of. I told them this at the trial, and the judge said: 'He was exactly the same sort of crook you are!' "

  • "As they were leading us away, I realised we were in big trouble, and I said to myself that we have to run, but I didn't know how to tell that to my friend, so that he'd run with me. He went in front of me, and at one moment when there was this pretty steep slope and we were going along the ridge - I must say that there was a lot of snow there at the time, it was in the Ore Mountains - I grabbed him by his coat from behind and jerked him, pretty much threw him down the slope and myself jumped after him. We literally slid down and made a run for it. First of all I heard bullets whistling by me, so I jumped behind a tree, I can still remember it today, how I saw how all the bark was exploding around me, splinters. I didn't know what was with Jan, he was head of me maybe, it was such confusion, and then the soldier stopped shooting and I started to run for it again."

  • "My interrogator had this pretty noose, for hanging people, in his desk. First he put it around my neck and said: "I have to measure your size for when we'll hang you, so that we know which noose to give you.' It might sound silly, it might seem stupid, but if they do it to you day for day, week for week, month for month, as I was in custody for five months the first time, then it has its effect on you, and in the moments when you're exhausted, you get frightened that they'll probably have you kick the bucket."

  • "The system didn't agree with me, it seemed to me to be amazingly unfair that someone is ordering me what to do. What they claimed, in a nutshell, was that I was some unimportant cog in society, and that I'm supposed to conform my whole life according to some political ideal for the good of most likely those people who lived very comfortably. And that certainly didn't smell right to me. Because right up until today I think that my life is very extraordinary, and that no one can replace it, and that it'll end one day, seeing as I don't believe in an afterlife. What I've got here, that's what I've got, what I wanted to live through as a normal human being. And most of all I felt hampered by what was around me."

  • "Our role was, when the miners drilled it, then I had to come along, insert the probe in there and find out if it was radioactive. In the case that there was sufficiently strong radioactivity there, we were allowed to make two blasts, and the miners had to go through it, pick out the radioactive material, or - what was it called - pitchblende, which was a perfectly cleany-clean, quality ore. I had to write a note that I gave the blaster, that he could blow up this or that. And that's what I did at Eva, as a prisoner, and my friend with me. We were even both on the same shaft, we weren't double chuffed about that. On the one hand we knew we wouldn't have to work our backs off, on the other hand we were deemed suspicious by the other prisoners. This was kind of a luxury job, so they were suspicious as to what kind of people were we, some sort of informers maybe, squealers was the word. I think we improved our reputation after a bit, when we grabbed one of those squealers that was messing up the camp, and gave him a good beating."

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They told me: You’re heading for prison! And they were right

Alois Peyr
Alois Peyr
photo: archiv pamětníka, Post Bellum

Alois Peyr was born on the 24th of March 1935 in Pilsen into the family of a telegraph clerk. His father’s job meant that the family was often on the move, finally settling down in Sokolov, where Alois completed a mining school. He wanted to continue his studies at the College of Mining in Duchcová, but he was not allowed to do so. He took part in small subversive activities, e.g. he distributed pamphlets. He was not satisfied with life in Czechoslovakia, as he felt he was constrained by the system - thus he decided to emigrate with his friend Jan Kuhn in December 1953. They were detained during their first attempt, however, by an East German patrol which handed them over to Czechoslovak soldiers. They subsequently succeeded in escaping. A few days later they made their second attempt, but were caught and taken to Karlovy Vary for interrogation. They were released on New Year’s Eve 1953. On the 19th of April 1954, Alois Peyr and Jan Kuhn tried to blow up the statue of a soldier in the Sokolov square. They were preparing for another emigration attempt when they were arrested. Peyr was interrogated for five months and then sentenced to nine years in prison. He was sent to the uranium mine Eva near Mariánská Camp. In 1956 he took part in a camp riot and was transferred to the Bory prison. He was released in 1962 and worked in manual labour. Following August 1968 he emigrated with his family via Austria to Australia. In his old age he sailed around the world in his yacht.