Václav Přibyl

* 1923  †︎ 2015

  • “It was in July or the beginning of August. There were some 50 men and almost no newcomers. From time to time, somebody would come from the Gulag and tell us that he was the only one who had been released and that the others are still being held there. The trouble was to find out why they were keeping them in the camps. Eventually, I was sent on such a mission that was strictly secret.”

  • “It was done in such a way that I was given a permit to visit my brother. It was a travel order which meant that I was going on holiday. We weren’t normally allowed to travel freely as soldiers. They wouldn’t even let us board a train without a travel order or a militia permit. So I got there in this way but the official mission was to visit my brother; on a short holiday. I eventually stayed there for a month. It was an undercover operation. I had been assigned to a military mission located in Kuybyshev at that time. If they had found out the real reason of my stay, they probably would have kept me in that camp and I would have never made it out of there again.”

  • “Then we managed to arrange the assignment of tanks. It was in Kežmarok – our brigade was given 60 tanks and took them over in Krosno. I assisted in the whole deal with my boss who was the chief of combat engineers’ corp. That’s how we finished the war.”

  • “One of the tasks was to form units of firefighters. Another one was to take away the wounded and transport them to a hospital, or to provide them with first aid before the doctors arrived and took them to a proper hospital. So that’s the sort of assignments you’re tasked with as a militia member. The last assignment we got was to take positions on the periphery of Moscow and to defend particular segments and districts of the city. That was at a time when we expected the last onslaught of the Germans to take place. So that’s how it worked, that’s the whole system.”

  • “I was born on February 7, 1923, in Kiev, that’s in the Ukraine, in the family of a Czechoslovak citizen, an engineer by training. I lived in the east all the way to 1945 – in the former Soviet Union. Then, in the course of the war, when Czechoslovakia and Poland were being liberated, I gradually got to Czechoslovakia where I later anchored.”

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    Praha - Hotel Legie, 10.06.2010

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From birth till the end of the war in the Soviet Union.

Václav Přibyl - second from left, Buzuluk
Václav Přibyl - second from left, Buzuluk
photo: archiv Václava Přibyla

  Václav Přibyl, a retired Colonel, was born on February 7, 1923, in Kiev in present-day Ukraine. His father, an engineer, was helping to rebuild the war-shattered industry of the Soviet Union after WWI. Due to his father’s occupation, the young Václav was constantly on the move, studying in different places - Proskurov, Kharkiv, Kazakhstan, Belarus and the Voronezh Oblast. Eventually, he chose to pursue higher education and went to Moscow to study at university. However, that was already at a time when the Soviet Union was at war with Nazi Germany and Václav Přibyl took part in the defense of Moscow by the militia in 1941. After fending off the German forces, he joined the Czechoslovak army corps in Buzuluk on May 19, 1944. During his training, he was sent on a secret mission with the aim of finding out why the USSR was refusing to free Czechoslovak citizens from its forced-labor camps. In Buzuluk, he was trained as a machine gunner but throughout the war he served with the sappers. He fought in the battles for the right bank of the Ukraine, the battle for Kiev and the battle for the Dukla pass, where he voluntarily participated in fierce combat operations. He got married in 1944. In the years 1945-1946, he was in charge of disbanding the remaining troops of the 1st Czechoslovak army corps in the USSR. After he returned from the Soviet Union, he decided to stay in the army. He completed his university education and held a number of important posts in the army structures. He was, for instance, the Deputy Commander of the Mechanized Forces of the Commanding Perimeter, the Chief of Tank Armaments and the Deputy Chief of the 1st Tank Division in Slaný. Prior to 1968, he served in the western military perimeter in Příbram but he was dismissed for overt disapproval with the occupation of Czechoslovakia by the forces of the Warsaw Pact. He was transferred to the army research institute where he spent the rest of his professional life. He was the vice president of the Czechoslovak legionary community. Václav Přibyl passed away on June, the 30th, 2015.