Jaroslav Ryvol

* 1930  

  • “I saw more of the dead, everywhere there were Czechs in the churches. When the Germans were there they removed the bodies that were in the buildings or in the streets to the churches where they put them in rows so people could come identity them. We were there too. We saw that there were quite a few – women, men, and kids too were lined up there. The people walked between them. It was in the afternoon, people were going inside, so we decided we’d go take a look, too. But then we got out of there fast, because you could feel it, you could feel the dead. There were quite a lot there, around thirty, forty.”

  • “The whole Wehrmacht pulled out to Plzeň. Me and my brother were just standing there watching it all go down and saying: ‘See, that’s how we looked to them in thirty-nine when they came here.’ You should have seen it! They had baker’s handcarts, they had their satchels and guns piled on them being pushed by two people. Or they were pushing baby carriages with their rucksacks tossed in them. This was how the German army, the Wehrmacht, departed, while the soldiers of the SS stayed behind for good.”

  • “I remember perfectly well how I was standing in Strašnice with my brother on Černokostelecká [Street], when then, what do you know, some covered vehicles showed up with some frozen German soldiers sitting in them, and it just happened that it was raining sleet. And right where we were standing that convoy pulled up, German soldiers jumping down from it, and bolted into the nearby store. It had already been announced that the mark was going to be worth ten crowns, one mark. The thing they bought the most of, and I could see it with my very own eyes, was cakes. They carried them like this, and salami, too. They had plenty of marks and it was cheap, one to ten. People weren’t able to yell or throw something at them because it was forbidden, you weren’t allowed to. Everyone just stood and watched.”

  • “For maybe half a year I worked on Adam, or was it Eva? I can’t remember anymore. Convicts were working there. And there weren’t all black and blue, they were normal miners like anyone else. They even got the same food. We talked with them like normal. Just that inside there were mine prison guards, but they weren’t even armed. These convicts worked like everybody else and smoked. But I remember well that there was a Gypsy there who once said to me: ‘You get to leave, yeah? Bring me some rum and I’ll show where some really valuable smalt is at.’ Because when we were working on a rock we were paid by the meter. But when we found ore, it was based then on how active or not it was. For pure uraninite we got 32 crowns a kilo, I remember. And when it was less active, then it went for eight crowns.”

  • “There was no denying that people were angry, fuming with those Germans and collaborators. Because they had reported them and many people ended up in the concentration camps or prison. So, they had it in for them. Big time."

  • “There was a big reunion of the all the high- and highest-ranking officers. Naturally, they hadn’t taken just any ordinary John or Fritz or whatnot. Just the elite. And I know that they were yelling into the public radios that Doctor Edvard Beneš was on his way, and everyone was going: ‘Hurrah! I’ll still catch it!’ His wife, Hana Benešová, was sitting next to him, smiling and nodding her head. Then they said: ‘Now comes Marshall Konev, the Czech liberator, and General Lelyushenko, the liberator of Prague.’ They kept yelling and everyone was yelling: ‘Hurrah, to their glory!’ That’s how it happened. Then people were yelling when those American officers came out, some guy named Bradley, then some other bigshot American general or another, they yelled for him too. Then came English officers, French officers. It was a grand welcome!”

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    Karlovy Vary, 13.12.2020

    (audio)
    duration: 02:50:04
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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Shoot-outs, feuds, and uranium mines. Those were the times

Jaroslav Ryvol in the 1960s
Jaroslav Ryvol in the 1960s
photo: Post Bellum

Jaroslav Ryvol was born on 29 September 1930 in Březno in the Litoměřice District. He was one of seven children. His father Otomar worked as a mail carrier and his mother Klotylda was a homemaker. In 1936, the family moved to Děčín, from where they were forced to move during the Munich Crisis of 1938 away from the borderlands toward the interior. His father enlisted in the general mobilization. After his return and a series of moving house, the family settled in Prague, where they lived through the years of the Second World War. In 1924, his mother Klotylda suddenly died of pneumonia. The witness recalls the dramatic days of the May uprising of 1945 as well as the subsequent arrival of President Beneš to the liberated country. After the war, his father moved for work to Liberec, where Jaroslav Ryvol witnessed the expulsion of the Sudeten Germans. He trained as a carpenter and at the end the 1940s he worked in a Prague dockyard. In 1951, he signed up for the Border Guard in Aš. In the mid-1950s, he moved to Nejdek in the Karlovy Vary Region and took on a job as a miner in the uranium mines around Jáchymov. Beginning in the end of the 1950s, he worked for the Pozemní Stavby state company in Karlovy Vary. At the time of shooting the interview (2020), Jaroslav Ryvol was living in Nejdek.