Ing. Emil Pražan

* 1928  

  • "We were guarded by the regular army.* The corporal had a gun and walked around, then there was a non-commissioned officer and then a commissioned officer was on guard as well, second lieutenant or first lieutenant. We could talk but the guard listened in case we talked about something politics-related. Something against the Communists. There was a corporal and he caught something. The private's name was Karel Mráček and when we were stationed in Klecany [off Prague], he attended concerts in Lucerna [concert hall in Prague]. He thought to himself that in the army store, he could get a major's uniform, buttons and everything. This Mráček got all that and then he told us: 'On Sunday, I walked along the Národní Street and imagine, all the lieutenants saluted me!' He wore a major's uniform, imagine. And the corporal heard Karel bragging about this and Karel got a month in jail or so." *Note: in the Auxilliary Technical Battalions, conscripts of poor health served along with those who had 'wrong' political view or family background; the ATB were held in disdain and were considered suspicious by default.

  • "Even today, I don't understand why it took them so long. Brother ran away at the end of the 1948 and they kicked me out of the university four months later. It was caused by that many cases, there were many of them. Those days, it was not the State Security, it was called National Security, they had not developed this thing that they would get to know everything and gather all the information so it took a bit of time. That's the only possible explanation why they kicked me out only after four months. I am sure about one thing, though. Those committees that existed, those action committees, they sat like this and you came there. They had it decided already, you could be telling them whatever you wanted and they just stared in the ceiling and then they told you that you have finished. It didn't matter at all what had you been telling them all the time, it had been all prepared beforehand."

  • "Brother was conscripted for forced labour since 1940, he was young but he was older than I was. At times, he experienced 60 air raids a day in Berlin. He said that it took the Germans two hours to rebuild the tracks and then the train traffic started again. Imagine that, the speed! The truth to be said, he spoke German really well and English too. He learned those really fast. He had a talent for languages as they call it."

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Praha, 21.02.2020

    duration: 02:53:27
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
  • 2

    Praha, 27.07.2020

    duration: 01:49:10
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th Century TV
  • 3

    Praha, 20.08.2020

    duration: 01:42:43
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th Century TV
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We ran away from the Germans in the Sudeten and soon after, they were at our heels again

Emil Pražan at the time when he lived in Žalhostice. 1934
Emil Pražan at the time when he lived in Žalhostice. 1934
photo: archiv Emila Pražana

Emil Pražan was born on the 15th of December in 1928 in the village of Žalhostice in the vicinity of Litoměřice. His mother was German, his father was Czech. They had three more children besides Emil, one son and two daughters. After the Munich Agreement the Sudeten were ceded to Germany and the Pražan family left their flat in Litoměřice and ran away from the Nazis to what was left of Czechoslovakia. After two months of staying in provisional conditions and living in the Sokol gym in Golčův Jeníkov, they settled in Hradec Králové. Emil’s older brother Erich was conscripted for forced labour in Berlin where he worked a s a signalman at a railway station. He witnessed frequent air raids but he survived until the end of war. After the liberation in 1945, he graduated from the business academy and enrolled to the University of Economics in Prague. After the Communist coup d‘état, he emigrated to the USA where he became pilot of a fighter helicopter. He participated in the Korean war at the U. S. side which led to Emil’s expulsion from the university. He was drafted to the army and served 26 months with the Auxiliary Technical Batallions. He then worked in the coal mines in Kladno for three years. Later, he started to work in the cultural centre in Hradec Králové where he focused on amateur photography and amateur film. He did the same in Prague later on. After the 1989 revolution, he became one of the founders of the PTP Union [PTP – Pomocné technické prapory = Auxiliary Technical Batallions] and at the general meeting in 1990, he was elected the general secretary of the Union.