Věra Skrbková

* 1926  

  • "On the 13th of June in 1916 the whole battalion was taken prisoners of war by the Russians. He would always tell me that it took about three days before the field kitchen arrived so they were exhausted and weary after the long march. It was no big job for Russians to také them prisoners, the whole squad or batallion or unit. Here, the prisoners of war were used for heavy works in the trenches, without any pay and almost without food. It looked like, he said, it was some sort of large estate, they even wondered about the machinery, it was mostly made here in Bohemia. But it didn’t concer them, they were there only… they had a small lodge, really small. About food, he wrote here, almost without food. But they walked there, across a field, on foot. So when there was some carrot somewhere, they would gladly dig it up but that was all that they had for the whole day of hard work. And only if there were some tools, he said, at lest some tools, but half of it was broken and there was nobody to fix it, nowhere to have it repaired. They had to dig the trenches almost with their bare hands. It was exhhausting. Due that lack of food and mainly lack of vitamins, they got scurvy. Dad got it as well. And at the age of twenty six, he lost all his teeth.”

  • "Mom used to go and help her mom, she would always do the cleaning and washing for her. So, once a week, she made a trip to Vysoké. And, until the evening, then it got dark, we were waiting but mom was nowhere to seen. And it was on the 3rd of May, when it started, in Vysoké, the republic had been already declared. People had started gathering at the square. Mom, when she came back, she had the red, white and blue ribbon pinned on her lapel and said: 'I've been to the Republic, they already had a revolution in Vysoké.' Well, we did not know, we waited what would happen next. We heard no other news but, in Vysoké, we thought, it is beautiful there."

  • "Dad sat at the till and there was in front of him, when he looked out, there was one rather large window. There was a post box next to the window, where people would put the letters which were already stamped. Dad could see outside pretty well. So, it happened to him, that he found out, when he was sorting the mail, that there's a letter to Gestapo. So he remembered where it had come from, who had brought the letter, he noticed somehow, when he was sorting the mail later. When it happened again and again, he found it too disagreeable but now what? Luckily, the post office used a wood stove for heating, there was a wood stove behind the till so dad just took the letter and burned it."

  • "They wanted to send me to a school for ladies' vocations at least. Meantime, I learned to type, on a typewriter, for that, the two-year ladies' school was great. Besides, we had an excellent teacher who taught us not to listen to everything people say. At that time, people listened to foreign radio already [unclear]. At school, it was safe, the worst thing that could happen would that they would send someone to eavesdrop whether something inappropriate is not told to the pupils. Our class teacher was so careful that he would send someone to stand behind the door [in the hallway], pretending that it was in punishment, and the kids took turns, the next day, it was another one so that they would not miss the classes. And this guard served to ensure that nothing would leak out of the classroom."

  • The show trial of Marie Zemanová „V určený den, kdy ohlašovali, že bude v Lidových sadech v Liberci souzená Marie Zemanová, tak jsem vyběhla z kanceláře a došla jsem tam včas. Bylo tam už ale naplněno, celá síň. Lidí přišlo hodně. Tak jsem otevřela dveře. Říkám si: ‚Aspoň někoho aby tu viděla známého.‘ A vtom ten, kdo řídí proces, řekl: ‚Dveře se otevírají a objevuje se v nich hnusná tvář Marie Zemanové.‘ To je prosím pozdravení!“

  • "She went to another miller and asked him for some flour, that she would need it for her son who is a forced labourer in the Reich. And he told her: 'I didn't make him to you!' He just told her off in such a way that she never wanted to set her foot there again. There were all sorts of millers, one of them was an outstanding man. And hearing a nice word was rare back then."

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Turnov, 21.02.2019

    (audio)
    duration: 02:37:30
    media recorded in project The Stories of Our Neigbours
  • 2

    Liberec, 30.07.2020

    (audio)
    duration: 02:36:21
    media recorded in project The Stories of Our Neigbours
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

In the Protectorate, people did not trust each other

Antonín Špika, witness' father, after his return from the Czechoslovak Legion, which fought on the Eastern front in the First World War.
Antonín Špika, witness' father, after his return from the Czechoslovak Legion, which fought on the Eastern front in the First World War.
photo: Paměť národa

Věra Skrbková, née Špiková, was born on the 18th of February in 1926 in Humenné. In Eastern Slovakia. Her father Antonín Špika (1889–1996) had served in the Czechoslovak Legion, he was disabled due to a war injury and in Humenné, he worked at the post office. In 1928, the family moved to Paseky nad Jizerou and later to Zásada. Věra’s older brother was serving as forced labourer in Germany and he ran away. Antonín Špika, who was a postmaster in Zásada, withheld several letters for the Gestapo. Věra finished the basic school, then she went to a business academy. During the WWII, she worked as a clerk in a gem cutter’s workshop. After the war, shemoved to Liberec. In 1952, she witnessed the show trial in which her acquaintance, Marie Zemanová, was tried. In the same year, she married Břetislav Skrbek and they had two children. The family settled in Turnov. Her husband taught at a secondary school, the witness attended teachers’ courses and then started to teach at the basic school there.