Josef Pukowiec

* 1929  

  • “There was the air raid. (…) The transportfürher ordered us to go out to the fields (…). I said to Tonda. ‘I am not going back.’ We were to ford the Elbe River and then walk from Dresden all the way to the train station in Neustadt and from there continue on another train to Hamburg. We ran away from there. We hid in trains and we travelled all the way to Karviná. When a conductor came, we hid in the toilet. This way I got all the way to Karviná. (...) My dad arranged a hiding place for me in the water-station in Sovinec. Our neighbour was bringing me food there. The Russians were near and the war was soon over. I have thus saved my life. If they had discovered it, they would have murdered our entire family. I was a deserter.”

  • “Hello, my name is Pukowiec Josef. I was born on January 1, 1929. I am married, I have three daughters (…). I worked in the Czechoslovak Army Mine; altogether I have been working there for forty-two years since I was eighteen years old. I learnt the trade of a machine fitter and then I went to work in the mines, and after having worked in the mines I transferred to work on the surface. While working there I became a member of the company’s fire rescue corps. I was participating in rescue operations with the rescue teams in the mines in the Ostrava-Karviná regions. (…) I was born in a miners’ colony in Sovinec, the houses had been torn down a long time ago. The mines belonged to the Larisch-Mönnich family. (…)”

  • “Look, we mainly worked on the surface and we had to follow the orders of the head dispatcher. We had to fulfill any orders we were given. I worked in the mine, and I know it there. I wanted to work as a machine fitter, but there was no job opening. I worked on rock breaking, behind the locomotive, I worked as a switch-man for the engineer who was driving the locomotive. I worked in disaster response team. (…) The dispatcher received information that help was needed. It was a kind of mutual help. One mine shaft was helping the other. Each shaft had its own rescue team. Rescuers from other shafts were coming to us. When something happened in the Czechoslovak Army mineshaft, the rescue teams from the other shafts – from Zápotocký, Jeremenko, Fučík, would come to us. That’s the way it worked.”

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    Karviná, 21.08.2014

    (audio)
    duration: 01:01:37
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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Forty-two years in one coal mine

 Pukowiec Josef
Pukowiec Josef
photo: Pamět Národa - Archiv

Josef Pukowiec was born January 1, 1929 in the miners’ colony in Sovinec in the Karviná mining area. His father was a miner as well, and he worked in the mines which at that time belonged to the aristocratoic family of Larisch-Mönnich. Josef learnt the trade of a mining machinery fitter in the Karviná region. In winter 1945 he was sent to do forced labour in Germany and on the way there, the train in which he was riding was attacked by Allied bombers near Dresden during the air raid on the city. In the ensuing chaos Josef escaped from the transport and until the end of the war he was hiding in his friends’ homes in the Karviná region. For his entire life he was working in the Czechoslovak Army Mine in the Karviná mining area as a miner, machine fitter and switchman on an underground locomotive and for many years he was also a member of a mine rescue team.