Petr Šída

* 1944

  • „Let me tell you, many people didn’t even know this, local people from Liberec. Once I had this encouter, four or five years ago. I was walking down the Moskevská Street. At around the pharmacy there, on the left side, an elderly lady, about 80, I’d guess, walked to me and told me: ‘So it’s you who claims you got shot in Liberec?’ And I told her: ‘Yes, that’s me.’ And she went on: ‘You rascal, you lowlife, how much did they pay you for saying this? I’ve lived in Liberec since forever and I’ve never heard that there has been some shooting in Liberec! You made it up, you’re a thug and a crook, I’ve never seen worse!’ Then she spat at my feet. A group of passers-by assembled, I couldn’t explain anything, she wouldn’t let me. She said: ‘I spit on you!’ I kept saying: ‘Let me explain.’ ‘I don’t want to hear anything from you, you are a crook and a paid shill and you are helping those rascals, nothing like this happened!’”

  • „And now let me tell you what disappointed me most. In 1969, I was still in hospital and walked with crutches. And when it happened so, I went to have a look at the memorial. So I limped my way to the city hall and I saw the door where I had been shot was covered with a pile of flowers. And suddenly, police and army arrived, surrounded the place, put up a tape. A tractor came, two blokes jumped off, grabbed pitchforks and started loading the flowers on the trailer. I had my crutches and I was standing on the corner where a bookstore used to be and I couldn’t get any closer. I was afraid that should anything happen, I wouldn’t be able to run away from the police. And I saw a horrible thing which I couldn’t understand. When they cleared it up a little bit, so, in that corner where we had been shot, a bloke, such a young guy, maybe two years older than I was, he pulled his trousers down and took a crap at the spot where we had laid after we had been shot.”

  • “I’d say it like this. You can’t forget. You can’t forget what they did, but I have forgiven. If the man who shot me stood in front of me now, I think I wouldn’t even swear at him. You have to live, and you have to [forgive] the occasional mistake... because it’s hard to live with grievances.”

  • “Then they loaded me up and wheeled me off there. I was lying on the floor at the reception, when to my horror I saw that some of the people there were covered up, that means, they were dead. I lifted a blanket and saw the boy [Jindřich Kuliš - ed.] that I’d let into the ambulance instead of me. So he was a goner. They checked me, saw the condition I was in, that my legs were shot to bits. They needed to get me to the operation room. But unfortunately, the power was cut, so we couldn’t get upstairs [by lift - trans.]. I was extremely lucky because one of the assistants was a friend of mine whom I’d occasionally go out for a beer with. He and one other took me by the armpits and dragged me up the stairs. They said: ‘Don’t worry, you won’t die, we’ll take care of you.’ And that was the last I remembered. Then I lost consciousness.”

  • “When the shooting started to slow down, the first ambulances arrived. There was a boy lying next to me, and... they wanted to put me inside and take me away. I told them: ‘No, no, take that boy.’ He was holding his lungs, and there were these eight- to ten-centimetre bubbles coming out from between his fingers. So I told them: ‘He’s much worse off than I am, I’ve only got my legs shot up. Take him.’ They loaded him up, and that very moment a tank nudged into the ambulance, and the situation got tense again. Two boys appeared from the other side, from The Book - there was a shop called The Book on the corner. They scampered up, grabbed me, and dragged me to the cellar entrance [of the town hall - ed.]. But [the Russians - trans.] started firing at them. The town hall was done up with scaffolding, so there were some scaffold pipes stacked on the ground. They put me behind the pipes, so they couldn’t get at me. They themselves ran and hid in the cellar. Unfortunately, one of my feet was sticking out from behind the pipes, so I got hit twice. One shot cut through the middle, the instep, the other went through the tip of my shoe, so it didn’t hurt me.”

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    v Liberci, 13.07.2016

    duration: 04:03:40
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
  • 2

    Liberec, 25.05.2021

    duration: 02:56:56
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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What the Russians did back then can’t be forgotten, but I have forgiven them

Shortly before August 1968
Shortly before August 1968
photo: archiv Petra Šídy

Petr Šída was born on 5 February 1944 in Lomnice nad Popelkou. After vocational school he worked as a wireman for Czechoslovak State Railways. He underwent compulsory military service in Martin and with a secret rocket detachment in Terezín. He later worked as a well-digger. He and one friend planned to emigrate to Canada. The events of 21 August 1968 had a fundamental impact on his life. He experienced the invasion of Warsaw Pact forces in a very direct way - Soviet soldiers shot him seven times in front of the town hall in Liberec. It took him more than two years to recover from his severe injuries. In the 1970s and 80s he worked in production jobs affiliated with the local agricultural cooperative. After the Velvet Revolution he and his brother Josef started doing business in hazardous waste disposal. In August 2014 he was awarded a Commemorative Medal of the City of Liberec for his selfless and courageous act on 21 August 1968, when despite his injuries he gave up his place in the ambulance in favour of the wounded youth Jindřich Kuliš. He retired in 2008. He lives in Liberec with his wife Alena.