“In 1941, they had no training facilities so they took us as volunteers to the medical units. I went through a brief medical training to become a field nurse and to know what to do in cases of emergency. Then they recruited soldiers to the armed forces. Three of us enlisted and I was enrolled as a parachutist.”
"When I think about it now I wouldn’t do that again. I wouldn’t even jump with a parachute. But a young person doesn’t know how to be afraid. Some days I don't care about what I had gone through but there are days when I can’t sleep and I think to myself: ‘Why did we have to sacrifice your lives to things like that?!’”
“Nobody knew that I had a broken leg and neither did I. We didn’t even think about looking for medical care. They bandaged the leg with gauze and bark. I couldn’t use the leg for a month, I just jumped on the other leg. Six months later, when we all came back and we had to pass a medical examination, they told me at the x-ray: ‘Katarina, you had a broken leg.’ The boys that were with me said it wasn’t possible. But the x-ray proved that I had had a broken leg without even knowing it.”
“We had some collaborators among Germans. Either they came to the partisans on their own or some of the captured ones began to speak. A part of our task was to find people who could join us and persuade them to work for us. We had to judge if a person can be trusted or not. It was a two-edged sword – you couldn’t get caught by the Germans but you tried to get them to your side.”
“As a matter of the training, we had to learn how to operate a gun, how to pack a parachute, swimming, running, crawling and skiing but I also had to know how to milk cows and mow. I had to be able to survive in the wilderness and to act as a village girl so that I wouldn’t stick out as a foreigner at the enemy territory.”
“At Roslavle we found a group of about forty captured Jews who the Germans wanted to execute. We waited for the night and then we got in touch with the Jews and told them that we were going to take them to the other side of the border. Before that we passed a part of the journey with them. We reached the edge of the wood and we showed them: ‘Here, this is where you will cross the border…’ But it was hard. Jews are very undisciplined. There were forty of them and five of us. Two from each side and one in the front. When we reached the railroad tracks, we had to crawl. We really had hard times with them. They didn’t want to do anything, only complaining ‘auch, auch, auch’, I can still hear it. After about forty meters, they could stand up again, that was under the reach of our army which took care of them. I never forget the danger, which was great for them and even doubled for us.”
Some days I don’t care about what I had gone through but there are nights when I can’t sleep
Kateřina Polášková was born on 22nd October 1922 in Teremno in the Soviet Union. She attended school in her hometown and in Moscow. She wanted to become a chemist. Her brother passed through tank division training and he served as a commander of a tank brigade during the war. She joined the army as a volunteer in 1941. Given the lack of training schools, volunteers were enrolled as auxiliary forces in medical units. Kateřina passed the basic medical training. She volunteered to the parachute units and was enrolled but her health prevented her from participation in the military operations. She was placed to a munitions magazine. Then she ran an officers club in ‘Serebreny’ bar in Moscow where she met her husband who worked in military intelligence but who was a foreigner (a Czech - author’s note). They had a son and a daughter. After the war, her husband obtained a permission to move with the whole family to Czechoslovakia. She worked for forty years as a shop assistant.