Ing. Vlasta Šišková

* 1924  

  • “I studied penal law. When they still had the death penalty, every country had written in their penal code in what way the death sentence would be carried out. We had death by hanging. England had hanging... they had shooting, France had the guillotine until even after the war, that still applied. Except we were such villains that there was some exception there that people who commit something in connection with the army, like espionage, officers were to be shot, but otherwise we had death by hanging. And they hanged them all, even [General Heliodor] Píka. You know, they hanged those four boys, on that 7 February 1949... my father also threatened the country, as we were informed, but at least he died on a clean bed. Just to imagine that he’d hang like a murderer, like what happened to Píka, that would be a blow to me... even though we knew we had them behind our house in Dušníky, and when they came they’d bash on the door, that was usually around two in the night, or simply in the [early] morning; why should they come in a normal way if they could do it with bravado... well, when we saw and heard them start the car and saw the red lights, we knew it was over - for the one night.”

  • “We got to know each other, saying hello and my name is… The kind of introduction during which you don’t know how to talk, so you talk normally and: ‘Who are you? And where do you live?’ Something of that sort. We knew each other for three days when the secret police came over and brought my husband to Prague. He had some English pounds on him because he counted on moving there. That was a crime. The guy asked me whether I could help him. I asked: ‘How?’ – ‘I would give you some English pounds. Can you keep them at your place?’ – ‘I can. Find a way to hand them to me without anyone noticing.’ We met in the hallway while he was carrying a book. A guy saw it and asked: ‘What have you got?’ – ‘I’m returning a book to Ms. Procházková. I borrowed it and have to hand it back.’ The pounds were inside. When my husband was arrested, I got rid of the pounds immediately. They couldn’t have found them at mine, let’s just say.”

  • “It’s 11 November 1940 and someone rings the bell at the garden gate. My father was already employed at the Ministry of Education on Carmelite Street, because every officer was given a job, so he had already left for work, and around nine o’clock someone rings the bell, well that was fantastic, I was at home that morning because we had alternating morning and afternoon school. Why that was, I don’t remember, but we had afternoon school that time. It was a good thing I was at home because the people who rang the bell were two gents in leather coats, there was that unfortunate Mercedes parked in front of the door, a swastika on its left side and an SS on its right... and those flags. We told them Father had already gone to work, they put me and Mum into the Mercedes and off we went to Petschek Palace. But not by the main gate, there’s a grate there now, it’s from the direction of the theatre. Of course, not by the entrance through which they took people to be interrogated, or mainly through which they sent them away again... look, if I was to find it now, I couldn’t. But there was a corridor there and a sloping stairway, they sat us down there, one of them stood by the entrance with an SMG and legs wide apart, they were all upwards of 180 [cm]. We were scared. We didn’t say word, Mum and I, because we didn’t know how they’d react, but I think we were thinking the same thoughts: Firstly, what about Father? If he received a heads up that they were after him... but we both ruled that out (we told each other that later on - I’m just saying this so it’s in one place), we knew that Father wouldn’t run, because he knew that we were both here.”

  • “They were missing three thousand, just in the totals... so then they went to get money from the manager’s office of the state farm in Kralupy nad Vltavou, so he produced two thousand, so when the girls did the packets, it always worked out. But one time he was seized with a gallbladder attack, and he wrote himself three thousand extra. Well, and the girls did the packets, that was a farm at Nelahozeves, and that’s how they found out about it. And they checked on his history and saw, three thousand here, five thousand there... the clever foreman said: ‘Who else is a thief? Šišková’s the only one who can steal!’ They came upon the fifty crowns that I had paid from my own money because it had been my mistake. Well, so off we went straight to the farm manager, and he told them I always had everything in order, Mrs Šišková never made a mistake. You couldn’t, you got fifty crowns. Well, it stands to reason, he got my fifty crowns. Because I always got on with people, I got on well with those who worked because if a person works and is decent, he’s a decent person. But in the end they said it wasn’t true, that I must have stolen money, well, and back then they had the people’s tribunals, where the whole factory was invited, so that people could see who their co-workers were, so they wanted to hand me over to the prosecutor. Luckily, when they told the Prague prosecutor it was about fifty crowns, he sent them packing. He just tapped his head; so I didn’t have a public trial, but I just came before what was called an accountability committee. And there I understood, and that was the worst about it... when I knew that they knew I was right... they understood it, they weren’t stupid... but still they said: ‘No, you’re a thief!’”

  • “There were Gestapo in the train, and a member of the Wehrmacht with a rifle on each side. So I gave them the permission, which I had made myself, and I looked out of the window as if nothing was the matter. And I said to myself, either it works, or it doesn’t. Because if they’d asked at the factory and if they’d have told them they hadn’t issued me anything, I wouldn’t be sitting here right now. He glanced at me, gave it back, and that was that. It was fine all the way to Vizovice, it was strange when I switched to the little engine to Vizovice - I mean, there was Lípa and Zádveřice, I was practically home. The weather was lovely, it was a Saturday, no one about. I got out at the station in Vizovice, I reckoned, they’re out of their senses, the sky’s blue, it’s warm, it was a beautiful spring day, and the traffic office was closed, the stationmaster, who always stood outside, was nowhere to be seen; and I thought: what an idea! Well, and when you set out from the station, you go up the hill to the Sokol Hall, and then you go either right, or left, both routes veer off and end up on the Vizovice square. So on I went, nothing about, and suddenly halfway up that path I froze. I don’t know why, I stood there like Lot’s wife. But there wasn’t any explosion. I don’t know how to describe it - the town was gripped by fear.”

  • “Me and my mum were home alone when suddenly, someone rang the bell at the gate. In front of it was a Mercedes car, carrying a swastika on one side and a white ‘SS’ inscription on the other. Two gentlemen entered and we decided we would not talk. I was worried about my mum not to start crying or something. I told her: ‘Mum, we will not cry.’ I think daddy told her the same thing before that. Now, two of them guys came in and two more in case we tried to beat them… Me and mum remained standing next to each other in the kitchen with two Gestapo guys standing across us. This is what the arrest of my dad looked like because back then, he was already employed. Every officer had a job. He used to work in Karmelitská street at the Ministry of Education. So they went to pick him up there. We were left with mum and waited for them to bring him over. I don’t know whether they managed to stop by at the Petschek palace prior to going to ours, I don’t recall that. Now imagine the situation with mum standing towards my left, me standing next to her, two Gestapo guys across us, two more behind them, and peace and quiet. We hadn’t cried one tear. One doesn’t cry before the Gestapo, or beg, or anything. Imagine two women standing next to each other, mute and deaf.”

  • “Luckily, he was taken to the renowned 3rd ward of the hospital in East Grinstead, south of London, it was named after Queen Victoria, and they tended to pilots with burn injuries from their planes, and they patched my husband up there. They did one side first, because when he took the dip, the nerves squashed a an artery, so he didn’t have any blood going into his legs, so they held a discussion, and then did surgery on his spine, then he said: ‘Suddenly, I felt warmth in my legs.’ That was just all of a sudden; so first they did one side one year, then the other side the next year, and then my husband said: I don’t know what’s up with my family, I’d like to have a look home, after a year. He was confined to a wheelchair otherwise, of course... so what did they go and do... they phoned the American base, airbase, my famous Bee Seventeen, I have her upstairs, I lent her to someone just now because they had a lecture on B-17s, so they commissioned a flying fortress to Prague, and my husband flew to Prague in a flying fortress all by himself. The Americans could afford it.”

  • „It all ended in August 1947. The boys who were married to English girls were already telling me farewell and leaving. They didn’t tell me, why. Just: ‘We are leaving, so you know.’ There was an army ball in Slovanský dům where we danced with everyone and bid them farewell. We didn’t leave it for February. Someone made sure that the ball did not take place in January, February or March as was the custom, but in late-November or early-December instead. In any case, it was in 1947. We drank a bit, talked with each other. We didn’t talk about the goodbyes, just casually. I know the boys were preparing to leave. Of course, dad told me: ‘Oh my, no way that you’d tell anyone you knew they were leaving. You’d end up in prison!’”

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    Praha 4 Modřany, Hájenská 16, 22.04.2015

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    Praha, 26.04.2018

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Life with two generals

Portrait former
Portrait former
photo: Archiv pamětníka

Ing. Vlasta Šišková, née Procházková, was born on 11 November 1924 in Most. Her life stance was greatly influenced by her father Jan Procházka (1893-1948), a brigadier general, a former legionary and a member of the resistance group Obrana národa (Defence of the Nation). Her father’s service in the army meant the family moved often; they lived in Prague before the war started. From May 1939 Jan Procházka was in contact with Defence of the Nation. On 11 November 1940 he was arrested by the Gestapo and sentenced to eleven years of prison, which he served in Bayreuth. Vlasta Procházková graduated from grammar school in September 1943, and she was then assigned to forced labour at the SKW factory in Schweinfurt. But the factory was destroyed by bombing, and so she was sent to the factory’s subsidiary in Prague-Dolní Měcholupy, where she remained until the end of the war. Her father was liberated from Bayreuth by the American army on 14 April 1945; upon returning to his country he was re-instated into the military. After WW2 Vlasta Procházková studied at the University of Politics, and she visited Great Britain with her father in 1946. In June 1948 Jan Procházka was arrested, and on 18 December 1948 he died in the Military Hospital in Prague-Střešovice. At the time, Vlasta made the acquaintance of Alois Šiška, a former pilot of the 311th Bomber Wing of the RAF, whom she married in 1949. A year later the young couple were deemed enemies of the state and were evicted from their flat in Prague-Vinohrady and sent to Dušníky nad Vltavou near Veltrusy. Vlasta Šišková worked as a payroll accountant, her husband was a disability pensioner. In 1952 she gave birth to their daughter Dagmar. The family moved to Zvole near Prague several years later. Vlasta Šišková was employed as an accountant at a paperworks in Vraná nad Vltavou, she later worked as a lecturer until her retirement in 1989. The family was rehabilitated after November 1989. Major General Alois Šiška died on 9 September 2003, he received the Order of the White Lion, the highest state award, in memoriam. For many years he had functioned as the vice chairman of the Association of Czechoslovak Foreign Pilots; after his death his post was taken up by his wife. Vlasta Šišková lives in Prague-Modřany.