Milena Ručková

* 1940

  • "I found out I had a brother when my father came to pick me up in 1946. He told me I had a brother, but I couldn't remember his name. I was six years old. I haven't seen my father since then. He came to take me to England, but my grandmother, my mother's mother, told him no, that she wouldn't give me away. So then my father went to Pilsen, where he was rehabilitated, and wrote a letter saying that he would let us hear from him and send us his new address. He has been missing since then. Grandma had him looked for through the Red Cross, but it was the post-war period, 1946, 1947, 1948, when there were reports that a ship had hit a mine and it was not known who was on that ship. And it ended up with my grandmother receiving a message saying he was probably dead. I had him looked for too. That was, I think, before the revolution when the situation somehow loosened. However, they wrote to me that they do not have the option of searching overseas. Then I gave up. And I shouldn't have done that because if I had been persistent, everything could have turned out differently."

  • “One day Master Pavla Plachová phoned me from Prague to say that she had been looking for me for two years and that she had finally succeeded. And that he wants to tell me that I have five siblings in England, and what do I say to that. I was unable to say anything at all because it was so moving. I told her that it can't be solved over the phone and that we have to meet up. Then she came to us with her husband, so they told me everything. I later got in touch with my siblings via Skype. The biggest problem is that they don't know Czech, and I don't know English.”

  • “I lived in Frýdek, a stream flowed around our house and we had geese. I always had to go to the stream with them and be there with them. The Bára family lived opposite us. I was just chatting with Miss Zdeňka Bárová, and a gentleman in a military uniform came with a briefcase in his hand, and he asked Zdeňka Bárová where the Pětroš family lived. Zdeňka called at me, 'Milenka, take this gentleman to your place.' When he heard the name, he put the briefcase on the ground, opened his arms and said, 'Milenka, come to me. I'm your dad.' I took his hand and led him home. Grandma didn't like it very much because she argued with him right at the door.”

  • Full recordings
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    Ostrava, 23.03.2022

    (audio)
    duration: 01:40:17
    media recorded in project Příběhy regionu - STM REG ED
  • 2

    Ostrava, 28.03.2022

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    duration: 01:22:13
    media recorded in project Příběhy regionu - STM REG ED
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Parents were united by resistance. She lost her mother in a concentration camp, her father was driven away by her grandmother.

Milena Ručková / 1958
Milena Ručková / 1958
photo: Witness archive

Milena Ručková, née Pětrošová, was born on May 8, 1940 in Frýdek-Místek. Her parents Marie Pětrošová and František Příborský joined the anti-Nazi resistance as smugglers in the Beskydy Mountains. Her mother was arrested by the Gestapo when she was pregnant. They let her give birth under supervision at home, then they locked her up in the Ravensbrück concentration camp, where she died in 1942. Her father fled to Poland. He fought in the Czechoslovak foreign army and was severely wounded at Dunkirk. He got married in England during the war. In 1946, he came to Czechoslovakia for his daughter, but her grandmother did not hand her over to him. When Milena was thirteen, her grandmother died. She had to go to a children’s home, then she lived in Jablunkov for about three years with her uncle and aunt, who ran merry-go-rounds. At the age of eighteen, she joined Třinec Iron and Steel Works and worked there as a crane operator for seventeen years. She lived in Třinec, got married, and had three children. She divorced and moved to Staré Hamry in the Beskydy Mountains. After her second marriage to Miroslav Ručka, she moved to the mountain settlement of Těšiňoky. For about fifteen years, from spring to autumn, she grazed a large flock of sheep in the Staré Hamry area. In 2020, she discovered that she has five half-siblings in England. Until then, she had thought that her father had died soon after the war.