One doesn’t get paid for serving his country; but he shouldn’t be punished for it either!
Jaroslav Selner was one of the most important Czech World War II officers. Shortly after the Nazi army occupied the rest of Czechoslovakia on March 19, 1939, he got involved in the illegal resistance group Defense of the Nation. In November 1939, he got on his way to leave the country to Bratislava. Then, he made his way through Budapest and Yougoslavia to Middle East, where he joined the unit of Colonel Karel Klapálek. As his right hand, he defended Tobruk twice. Then he went to London to work under František Moravec. He volunteered to be detached to the East front to Klapálek’s 3rd Czechoslovak independent brigade. As a commander of the brigade, he oversaw the liberation of Liptovský Mikuláš. After the end of the war, he married actress Věra Skálová and in 1946, she gave birth to their son Václav. In 1949, when his friends already started to disappear from the army and were put in prison, he was raised in rank to be a brigade general. His subsequent fall was all the more deep. First, he was expelled from the army and forbidden to wear a uniform. Next, his pension was taken away from him and the same happened with his apartment. Finally, he was sent to forced labor in mines in the Ostrava region. His wife had to work despite her pregnancy in order to provide for herself and Václav. As a result of the hard work she had to do, she gave birth in her 7th month and the baby passed away. After several years, he was allowed to stay closer to his family and start working in the Kladno Steel Works as a shifter. Only in 1964 was Mr. Selner at least minimally rehabilitated. He could wear his uniform once again and was allowed to teach at a vocational school. He was fully rehabilitated only in 1968. From his childhood, Václav Selner remembers mainly how both of his parents managed to keep their dignity and sense for honor despite the hard situation. Most of all, he appreciated about his father how he was always standing by him when confronting others. Even when he knew that his son did something wrong, he supported him and only after they got home, he told him off. For example, when being in the first grade, Václav threw a boy who attacked his classmate through a fence. When he brought his certificate with B for bad manners and explained why he got it, his father told him: “Remember, when someone hurts a weaker person, let alone a girl in such a cowardly manner, he deserves nothing better. You did it well!” He supported him also when Václav wanted to apply for the Communist army. What Jaroslav Selner stressed was that it was not so important where or what regime one serves, but what he does for helping his country.