Ing. František Šedivý

* 1927  †︎ 2021

  • “I was assigned to excavation there, you know. The standard in excavation was... I don´t know if you can imagine it if you have ever done it... But to meet the standard you had to dig 4.2 cubic metres a day. When you were at the beginning. At the surface. Later on, it was a little bit less as you dig deeper. So 4.5 cubic metres, imagine it. You had to dig 1 metre wide, 1 metre deep and 4.5 long hole. To have one hundred percent, not to be persecuted as an underperformer.” - “And did you do it also in winter? Didn´t you do it in winter?” - “No, we did not do it in winter, you know that we did not. It was very funny in winter. Because it froze in winter but they made us go there even in winter. But: ‘You will do it by means of wedges‘, a foreman, ‘wise man‘ told me. I told him: ‘Mr. foreman, can you show it to us with the wedge? We haven´t done it yet.‘ So he thrust the wedge there, an iron one, he hit it with a hammer several times, the wedge flew god´s know where, so he thrust there another one; well, it was a nonsense. When you were hitting it with sledgehammer the whole day you mined, when I´m optimistic, I don´ know, the amount of a coal bucket. And you met the standard. But they forced you to go out to freeze there whole day and to hammer like crazy. The hammer had twelve kilograms so when you were lifting it the whole day... Not to mention the amount of iron that was used. The wedge was not made of perfect iron, although it was iron twelve but it was not meant for it. It is not a tool meant for it, when you hammer on it for a while you deform it, it is then meant to be thrown away. But they wanted it, so we dug.”

  • “It differed from Jáchymov area, I will tell you how in a moment. It was fundamentally different. They did what they wanted with you in Jáchymov area. When you arrived there they just registered: a manpower. And that was it. However, you were a prisoner there. It makes a little difference even when it seems that it is stupid. A prisoner has a right to write home once in three months. You could write home every quarter a year in Mírov. A prisoner has a right to get a packet when he works. You got it in Mírov. You could not even think about it in Jáchymov area.” - “Did you not get packets is Jáchymov area?” - “No, not at all. It was out of the question there. And so were many other things. On the one hand, we worked inside there. On the other hand... It was an old prison, so there were not flush toilets. And we went to the toilet on chamber pots. On the pots. You know. When it was Sunday and the wardens were not in the mood to accompany the prisoners to the shaft where it was poured away, there was quite a pungent smell then. And although there was running water there it was not in many places. There was only water that was brought there in buckets. So two people could wash in the washbasin but the water for the third one was already dirty. So that was the disadvantage. But I think that it was a little bit better. Firstly, certain teams and groups that worked on something stabilized there. One group sewed something and other groups made rivets, tape measures and so on. Some head workers emerged from it. And the head workers were mostly decent people. The elders who were seventy would not make rivets but would lead the group. There was nothing like this in Jáchymov area.”

  • “He then came to me and told me: ‘We might be able to solve it, for a week, there has been an order concerning you and assigning you to trenches. We did not give it to you, we told ourselves that you would not go to trenches that you would better stay here. Well, we should use it because the trenches will be safer for you than to be here.‘” - “So you went to the trenches to get lost...” - ‘So, I finally went to the trenches. It was very tense, I mean the discharge, because police custodian Lambert gave the final, last and the most important signature. It was after the raid, they arrested twenty-seven people and were waiting for others to arrest them as well. It was before the speech. So, I went there and spoke broken German with him and told him that I was assigned to trenches and if he would sign me the discharge document. He took it very willingly, signed it and I was telling myself that everything was all right. However, I was not released yet. I had almost everything so I went to human resources. Everything was in Verwaltung, administration, there were employees, so I went there. And there was a Mr. Pánek and I will not forget him till the end of my life. He was a good old Czech sissy. And there were two young women in the office with him. Two young women, born in 1924 who avoided forced labour in Germany and worked there as secretaries. And when I had everything I came there and told him: ‘Mr. Pánek, I´m leaving. And I gave it to him there. ‘You are signed there...‘ I already had it from Lemberg. And he said suddenly: ‘It is not possible, he is that Šedivý!‘ He said: ‘That Šedivý!‘ He told the young women: ‘He is that Šedivý!‘ So I said to myself: ‘I see, there was something there. So that Šedivý...‘ And he wend towards the phone. It touched me back then, so I put my hand on the phone and told him: ‘Mr. Pánek, let it be. War will be over in a month. Do you want to live to see it? So let the phone be.‘ Pan Pánek started do shake, signed it and I went away.”

  • “As far as Germans are concerned, they were mainly people who were members of different organizations such as Freikorps or its members taken from borderlands. Or they were SS men that had been captured somewhere. SS men were sentenced to ten years. They did not ask them anything, they were sentenced to ten years back then. If he had done something, if he had shot or hadn´t shot, they did not ask him anything and he was given a ten-year sentence. There were several of them there. And then there were also those who had been employed here during Protectorate. Those who practically did not do anything against us but the fact that they were for example administrators of a large farm... Zwangsverwalter, a forced administrator... Well, naturally they had to remove someone from time to time or to give them and order that they did not like. And the person then took revenge on them, he simply blamed them for something, so they got an eight-year or a ten-year sentence.”

  • “So one of the young men there... Well, young man, he was thirty-five, he was an old man for me, I was on formal terms with him, he was on first-name terms with me. He came one day that they would need me to carry this and that. I told him: ‘What do you need?‘ Well that they simply have there some... He simply told me that they needed me to carry some letters to a group of people that used them. He was not very clear... And he went with me there once. And it happened like this: He did not go too far, just at the edge of the forest behind Přílepy and he introduced me there to one of those men. He said: ‘So, when we give you something, you will give it to this man and bring it here. You would give it to him.‘ All right, so I agreed with it. And I brought the messages several times. Of course, I knew it in the forest a little bit more. I found... Or more precisely they brought me to the pillbox but in case of something I would easily go to see them. And not at the edge of the forest where someone could see us. It was not at the edge so much, it might have been two or three hundred metres, further. So, I carried there the messages from them several times.” - “And what messages were those?” - “It was an interesting group, you know. I never really got to know who they were. There were two intelligence reporters in the group, according to my present experience. One was Russian and the other one was from the West. They both spoke Czech perfectly but you could say it a little bit. They both spoke Czech perfectly. Except of them, other two were with them, they were both refugees that Russians found in the forests.”

  • „Once I came home. Across the street a strange ugly guy was sitting and was staring at me. ‘What a cad it was’, I thought. Suddenly a black car passed by. At the moment I was opening a garden gate, I heard the car stopping, then some voices and someone running. I was just about to open the doors when I heard: ‘Hands up!’ The guy was pointing his gun at me. I knew it was all over. I stopped. Another man appeared and they followed me into the house. Our dog went nuts. My mother did not say a word. I asked them what was going on, but they just shouted at me: ‘Keep your mouth shut!’ In the meantime they already searched the house, books were all around, and the bed was upside down. My mother made me a lunch, she opened some canned meat we had saved from the winter, in a rush boiled some potatoes, but I was unable to eat, I only had a drink. Secret policemen finished the house search, they had to know that they would not find anything. As we were leaving, my mom was completely shattered. She accompanied me to the garden gate. She waved me goodbye. They put me into their car and we left.”

  • „We were transported to Jáchymov, two buses and two GAZs [a Russian version of a jeep] with armed guards and dogs. There were four other armed men on the bus. We were ordered to take off our shoes and them in the aisle. We were wearing the same civilian clothes that we wore when they arrested us, in order to make an impression that they were not transporting prisoners. Those of us who had slippers or at least thick socks were relatively ok. But there were men among us who had been arrested at swimming pool wearing only sandals. In the morning, as we were leaving, it was freezing, it got warmer during the day, but it was few degrees bellow zero again when we arrived to Jachymov region.”

  • „Young generation should realize that a real human life is worth living only in a free country, and freedom. It’s not possible to live without that. Everything else that makes humans humans, is derived from freedom. If someone should suppress it, it would drag the society into an unfavorable situation. I would like to warn young generation, to watch it carefully. So that someone would not confuse them again with appealing illusions, seduced them and did not bring a disaster on them for something that is not realistic, that would bring them only new slavery, now bloodshed – something, what communism brought on us.”

  • „My second illegal border crossing was much more dangerous. I was asked to guide a young lady with two little children. When I think about it today, it was a huge risk and a complete nonsense as well. I knew the trail, and I knew I would be able to walk quietly, but I asked myself, how will the others do? I had returned to Šumava and had checked the trail again. It led across a swamp, the border guards were afraid to walk in. The lady carried almost nothing, I carried one child, she carried the other. We eventually crossed the border, but it took us almost five hours. I had to return the same way before dawn. I had to come home without being noticed because my mother could not know where I had been, otherwise she would have gone crazy. Tha was the year 1949.”

  • “Bread rations: So called 3-kg black bread was divided into 20 slices. Theoretically it would be 15 dkg per slice, but the bread loaf never had three kilos, so a ration was between 12 and 13 dkg. Black bread was better to digest than to suppress hunger. We drank cofee substitute that was available on tap and you can have as much of it as you wanted – itt was warm but bitter, did not take the edge off the hunger. Our sugar ration were ten small cubes of sugar. Some of us succumbed to it, ate everything at once and for an hour were not hungry, but it was not worth it. I never did that. We had a soup for dinner three times a week – water with hard, cooked, dry vegetables, often made out from bags from Protectorate. You were lucky if you found five pieces of potatoe the size of a cherry in it. It was rare to find a noodle. For lunch was a dumpling (so called ‘blboun’) and some sauce, and occasionally two to three small pieces of some meat. So we were hungry all the time, never stopped. Day and night, one was permanently hungry.”

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Řevnice, 20.07.2007

    duration: 05:07:11
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
  • 2

    Praha, 25.11.2013

    duration: 01:33:58
    media recorded in project The Stories of Our Neigbours
  • 3

    Praha, 05.02.2019

    duration: 01:54:29
    media recorded in project The Stories of Our Neigbours
  • 4

    Praha, 04.03.2019

    duration: 02:00:21
    media recorded in project The Stories of Our Neigbours
  • 5

    Praha, 26.03.2019

    duration: 01:55:43
    media recorded in project The Stories of Our Neigbours
  • 6

    Praha, 03.07.2019

    duration: 01:42:27
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th Century TV
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Day and night, one was hungry all the time

František Šedivý temporary portrait
František Šedivý temporary portrait

František Šedivý was born on July 2, 1927 in Zadni Treban. During WWII after German terror was unleashed following Heydrich’s assassination, he was expelled from his high school (lyceum). He was sent to lJunkers factory in 1944. At that time he got involved in the resistance against Nazis as a messenger. He joined resistance again, this time against communist regime, after communist putch in February 1948. He distributed fliers, managed twice to lead refugees across the border in Sumava Mountains, and as a student at a university was one of the organizers of a group that was preparing for the anticipated fall of the regime. In early 50s he successfully uncovered an agent and a provocateur Golda. For that he was arrested in 1952 and sentenced to 14 years in prison. He was jailed in Mirov and many other prison camps in Jachymov region: Central Camp, Camp L – so called Tower of Death, Bytiz and Vojna. He was released on probation in February 1964. Died on 16 th February 2021.