Jan Prüher

* 1933  

  • “I can still remember the food I had to eat there. In the camp, there was this hallway of sorts where this huge pot was, with maybe fifty litres of ersatz coffee, next to it, there was this smaller, ten liter pot full of lard and at a bench there were loaves of bread. So every morning, as we went to work, we would cut ourselves a piece of bread and spread some lard on it, we would fill this one liter milk bottle with ersatz coffee and down the pit we went... And after we got back from work we had dinner at a canteen, that was the only cooked food we had in a day, apart from that, we had been feeding ourselves with lard, bread and ersatz coffee. But we would also buy an onion, so we would prepare ourselves a piece of bread with lard and onion on it, a combination I like to eat till this day.”

  • “But then the situation started to change, as the communists wanted to gain power, so it started to change for the worse and it all started on 25 February 1948, as I went home from school and I heard the local public broadcast stating: 'The working class dealt with the reactionary elements, as today, Václav Prüher, the director of the Valdice Prison, had been relieved of his duty and imprisoned.' Well, that's how it all started. Fortunately, he hadn't been interned, but the communists just took power and started crushing everything around them.”

  • “The liberation in the year of forty-five had almost no impact on the prison and its function as an institution, as in the inside things remained the same. As it wasn't a Nazi prison, but a prison for all the 'Czech bastards', so in the inside things remained the same while the world around was changing. The Revolutionary Guards for example, those unscrupulous bastards who... As I witnessed, after Germany lost the war, there were many Germans being held. And at the agricultural yard of the prison, where they would grow vegetables, potatoes and such... The German prisoners were being deployed there, and on one occasion, the Revolutionary Guards captured this kind of a van with those people inside, wearing uniforms – but not the German ones – maybe eight members of the Swedish Red Cross, and those bastards would take them from the van and just shoot them in front of the prison.”

  • “There was this man who denounced those people who had been serving in prison's administration in the previous years, as well as the wardens, and he didn't manage to get away, so in mid April they would put him into a solitary confinement, but unfortunately his son came to visit him, and as he didn't find him at his usual place, he would run to Gestapo to complain, and the Gestapo came and the first thing they did was to come to the prison to arrest my father, but my father saw them coming so he didn't hesitate and he would run across the yard to a village where this warden had been living and had been hiding in his barn till the war was over.”

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    České Budějovice, 13.12.2019

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Our father showed us the right place to stand in our lives

Jan Prüher, 2019
Jan Prüher, 2019
photo: Post Bellum

Jan Prüher was born on 23 June 1933 in Leopoldov, Slovakia. His father, Václav Prüher, had been serving in the correctional service and later he became the director of the Valdice Prison in Valdice near the town of Jičín. On 25 February his father had been relieved of his duty, his certificate of reliability had been revoked and both he and his family had been interned in České Budějovice. After graduating from seventh grade of a gymnasium type secondary school in České Budějovice, he had been included in the “Action 77” and sent to work at a lignite coal mine in the Sokolov Region. After coming back he decided to study construction, becoming a roof tiler and leading his own crew after time. He finished his secondary school education at a Secondary School of Civil Engineering in České Budějovice. After 1989, he got into business, starting his own construction company. In 2019, when the interview had been taken, he had been living in České Budějovice.