“They sent him to work in the mines, and it was hard for him to endure it in the mines, he simply could not be underground, he was not used to it, and so they… he would have died there... and so they later assigned him a work of poisoning mice instead. He would stop by in our place here. At that time we were not living here, but in the front. There was a large room. He would always come. He wore boots, a hubertus hunter’s coat and a kind of a hunter’s hat; he was a quite a large man, and he had a rucksack on his back. And on Sundays, mostly, my mom would always bake some pastries. She used some twigs to fuel the fire, and she would always give him some of those pastries. Well, they were living in terrible poverty, you cannot even explain it. I remember that when I, a little boy, approached them, he would stop talking. Only if he was alone with my dad, he would talk about things like that. And one day he said that they were able to come, meaning the StB men, at night and that they were banging on his window and ordering them to get up immediately, turn against the wall, hands behind their heads, and they would do a body search on them. He would tell them that they did not have anything, not even utensils to eat. There was nothing. Well, of course, some man from here, who was a policeman, he was sort of a friend of ours, an acquaintance. I don’t even want to mention his name. Nevermind. But they even took away the furniture from there, the furniture from the chateau. And everything.”
“What happened was that the village and the forest were full of horses, to put it simply. Some of them died, and people slaughtered some that were sick or had a limp. And I walked past this church to the pond to see it there. I could hear some rustling from the wheat field. Well, I was a boy, and I jumped behind a tree and I was hidden behind it for a while and the sound was still as if coming nearer to me, and I peeped out, and it was actually a small horse. About this high. It was about this high, right? And it had a belly. I spoke to it slowly, and I extended my hand to it and it started licking my hand. It was fawning like a kitten. It was a clinging to me. Oh, you are a nice pony, I will take you with me. And it started doing like that – its chin was like mine, but a bit bigger. It kept placing its chin and head on my shoulder and on my hand. The horse got out of the wheat field completely and I got out from behind the tree and it had its head on my arm and I led it home. We walked past that church. And my dad was standing in the door and he asked me: ‘What’s this? What is it you are leading here? Leave it alone!’ I could have had twenty horses like that. The Russians cut the wheat for fodder. They were cutting the field from the edges and from the centre. And wherever they stopped, they released the horses there and they cut the wheat and took it away. And I started crying and I went on my knees and I begged dad to keep the horse, for it was such a nice horse. Well, and about two days later the horse had a foal? Later they had it mate one more time again, again with a Russian. I don’t mean a soldier, but a horse. And so we had foals. Then we sold the horse.”
“Cement, there was no way to get hold of it. I knew the manager of the construction materials depot very well. As I was shaking hands with him, he would look what I was placing into his palm, right. To put it simply, there was shortage of tiles, roof tiles, bricks… It was such a bad time. When people were repairing a house, they would bring the bricks straight from a brick factory while they were still warm. The bricks were being taken out directly from the factory. Those who did not know the people in the business or those who didn’t have a lot of money for bribes simply had no chance. Well, the guys went for lunch and I thought, dammit, I just unloaded a whole truckload of cement from the truck and I don’t even have any cement at my home. I thought, I will put two bags of cement into my car, and dad would use it, or we would use it together.”
To live a life in moderation and without any excesses
Jaroslav Plaček was born on July 5, 1933 in Činěves (Nymburk district) into a farming family. His father was earning his living as a bricklayer and his mother was a housewife. Jaroslav spent his childhood and youth in his native village. He witnessed the passage of German convoys through Činěves as well as its liberation by Russian solders. He spent several days in early May with his father on a barricade behind the village in the direction of Nymburk. At the beginning of the 1950s he was a friend of the Mašín brothers who moved there from Poděbrady with their mother and sister after their family property had been confiscated. During the period of the collectivization, which affected Jaroslav’s family as well, he was maintaining contacts with Mr. and Mrs. Czernin, members of an important noble family whose property had been expropriated by the state and who had to earn their living through menial jobs. Jaroslav started his military service in 1953, shortly after the currency reform. During his basic military service he worked as a personal driver of his superior. After his return to civilian life he worked for the ČSAD company until his retirement. Jaroslav Plaček died in 2018.