Ing. Josef Šára

* 1935  

  • “[Joining the Communist Party], it was a question of life or death. [Yes], I lowered myself, I was a party member. [But] never did I misuse anyone because of their political opinions. Nobody forced me to do so. For me I judged [other people] by their behavior, diligence, purposefulness, honor... I was a product of my time, but when we look at it [from a different point of view], my uncle [František] went to fight for the Czar – he died in combat, buried in Galicia. [My other uncle], General [Václav Šára], stood up to Hitler – he was the first, on 1 October 1941, the first Czech general corps was executed. There’s a list of those who were executed in Ruzyně. Dad also fought back – he died in Bory. What would I have acheived for doing the same?”

  • “By the cemetery there was glade with some haystacks. Farmers who didn’t have enough space were storing hay there. We went there to look at the other side at Blovice and we watched the planes flying there. It was the American army, specially trained planes, who had the task to attack all moving trains on the Plzeň-Budějovice line. Today I see what a huge risk it was. Boys [at that age] didn’t get it. I remember that there was a train leaving from Blovice – they were steam-driven trains then, so they smoked – and suddenly there above it – we could see it too – there was a plane. It spun around above [the train] and the conductor stopped [it before] it made it to Vlčice – they had their orders. The plan turned around over Dubí, back toward Ždírec and back again... and it circled around one more time. All the sudden were heard its guns and then the train engine started smoking. I saw the plane attack the train with my own eyes. When I think about it today I think that if that plane had flown over Struhaře they would have seen us boys on those haystacks and [maybe] would have shot at us too. They wouldn’t have been to know we were just boys. [They might have thought] that there were some masked [soldiers] from the German army.”

  • “My grandmother from my mom’s side came and said to Mom: ‘Listen girl – because she was breastfeeding and baby formula, well it didn’t exist then of course, there was only cow’s milk – you’ve got no milk, you have to eat!’ And from all the advice about healing they [along with my mother] came up with the idea that it would be good to have some dark beer. But dark beer was hard to come by during the war. So, they of thought of something, they send me off to the brewery – there was still a brewery then in Spálené Poříčí – to bring back a bit of malt and hops. Grandma had some recipe or another for it [and so, together with Mom] they made dark beer. Dad was allowed to drink that dark beer. Mom’s lactation increased [and] my sister started to thrive.”

  • “I remember when [my uncle] was visiting and Dad was giving him a hard time for not having left yet to England, like many other resistance officers, resistance fighters, or those who were against the rise of Nazism. And he answered: ‘Someone has to stay behind; someone [here] has to organize the resistance.’”

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    Plzeň, 21.08.2019

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    Plzeň, 28.08.2019

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Our family’s Odyssey was cruel

Josef Šára
Josef Šára
photo: archiv pamětníka

Josef Šára was born on 24 April 1935 outside of Spálené Poříčí in Struhaře in the Plzeň Region to a family of farmers. One of his uncles was Václav Šára, brigade general and commander of the resistance organization Obrana národa (National Guard), executed by the Nazis on 1 October 1941. Josef was still only a little boy when he watched from a hill in Struhaře Plzeň being bombed and the attacks of the low-flying bombers. He remembers the May Uprising in 1945 and being liberated by the American and Soviet armies. After the Communist Party came to power the inhabitants of his village were divided into proletarians and kulaks. After some difficulties he was accepted into a one year agricultural school in Stod in 1950, his second year of school was completed at the Technical School of Agriculture in Klatovy. After graduation, he became a trainee at a center in Nezvěstice, later he continued in Chocenice. As time went on his father’s farmstead was collectivized into the United Agricultural Union (JZD). On 1 November 1957 he began working at a collective farm in Dobronice and later in Chrančovice. From 1 July 1960 he was employed as the main zoo-technician on a farm in Úněšov. His career, which had enjoyed such a promising start, had a turnaround when one day in 1960 he was offered membership in the communist party at the same time they were imprisoning his father for nine months for his apparent disruption of the collective farm in Struhaře. Ultimately, the witness accepted the offer to join the party in fear of what it could mean for his family. Thanks to this he succeeded in obtaining a recommendation to study university, from which he graduated with the highest honors in 1964. As the then main engineer on the farmstead he expressed his disagreement with the occupation of the Warsaw Pact armies during screenings, but managed still to keep his function. As a concession to the then powers that be he graduated from a night-school study program on Marxism-Leninism (VUML) in Plzeň. As a man of agriculture and a farmer, he had contradictory feelings about the fall of the communist regime in 1989. He had to leave the farmstead in Úněšov, which, thanks to his efforts most of all, had turned into an enormous agricultural complex. He returned to his hometown in Struhaře, where he built up a small family farm from the previously desolate farmstead.