Richard Smola

* 1930

  • “They were building the super power plant Felton in Cuba, and I was to be the chief engineer on site - for the construction and installation work. We started from the grass up, so I was interested mostly in the construction work. But we didn’t have as much responsibility there as back home, we were there as chief assemblers; the Cubans were responsible for the schedule - that’s mañana, mañana. Back home we’d build a power plant in a year and a half or so, but there it took five years.”

  • “ ‘You all have, or the majority of you have political classification E, that means a person politically unreliable.’ It was all clear to us then. Priests went there, there were a lot of university students there, who had been expelled from school after their second or third year. There were Germans even from mixed marriages, who had stayed in Czechoslovakia.”

  • Mr Smola was on a business trip in Canada during July and the beginning of August 1968. “We had a TV set in our room in Toronto. We’re watching it this one time, and they’re saying something about Czechoslovakia being in danger of being invaded by tanks from the Russian army. We reckoned: That’s a load of rubbish. We came home, and a week later the tanks were here.”

  • “In March 1952 my father came to visit me in Přerov. The airport was about six, or four kilometres from Přerov, in Bochoř. We were walking and talking along the way. When we came to hotel, to my father’s room, he put a finger to his lips and pointed under the bed. I looked under it, and there was a phone there, the receiver off the hook and placed beside it. So what did we talk about? I’m doing fine, it’s going to be fine when I get back home... They didn’t have bugs yet in those days, not like they use now.”

  • “I went to have a look on the other side, and I made pictures. I got all the way to the end of Huss Avenue. It looks different there now, it used to connect sharply with Skvrňanská Street. At ten o’clock, the Germans started shooting from the tower, and also from the school in Huss Av. When the firing began, quick quick get inside. We crawled into a house somewhere. There was an American tank standing in front of us, the chap in the turret was drinking milk, he had a glass of milk. I can see it like it was today. When they began shooting, he looked around, took the milk and placed it on the turret. He manned the machine gun and let rip at the school. He fired a few rounds and everything went quiet. He picked up the glass and continued drinking.”

  • “Then came June 1st 1953, the biggest robbery, such thievery - the monetary reform. Father was fresh from prison, so he didn’t take part in any demonstrations of course. There was a revolt in Pilsen on the 1st of June, and Father got a letter on the 2nd of June - an assessment which cancelled the assessment for the flat my parents lived in. He was designated an unreliable person with immediate effect. And the next morning, on the 3rd of June, the trucks drove up and he was moved to Božanov. Božanov is a tiny village in East Bohemia, past Broumov, about a kilometre from the Polish border.”

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Plzeň, 05.07.2011

    duration: 01:15:45
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
  • 2

    Plzeň, 24.02.2012

    duration: 01:13:03
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
  • 3

    Plzeň, 08.11.2013

    duration: 01:56:52
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th Century TV
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I was born into the“wrong” family, and so I had to join the PTP.

Old photo
Old photo
photo: Eva Palivodová

Ing. Richard Smola was born on the 3rd of June 1930 in Pilsen. His father was Ing. Alois Smola, the owner of a turbogenerator company, Ferrotechna, and president of the Pilsen Society for Trade and Commerce, which became the target for communist persecution following 1948; Alois Smola was arrested and sentenced to one year of prison. In 1953, the whole family was forced to move from Pilsen to the small village of Božanov in the Broumov district under Operation B - Bourgeoisie. Thanks to the intervention of Škoda, the location was changed to Ptenín near Merklín. Richard Smola graduated from grammar school and studied mechanics at the University of Mechanics and Electrotechnology in Pilsen, which was part of the Czech Technical University in Prague. His studies were interrupted by compulsory military service at the Auxiliary Engineering Corps (abbr. PTP, forced labour units - transl.). He served with the light, and later the heavy PTP from October 1951 until the PTP were disbanded in May 1954; he was stationed at Libavá, at the airport construction site in Přerov, in the mines at Ostrava and in Hájníky near Banská Bystrica. After his release he completed his university studies, and in 1956 he gained employment at Energostroje, which later became part of the Škoda Works, later still the independent company Škoda Prague. Among other work, Richard Smola was in charge of installations and dealings abroad - in Denmark, Bulgaria, Canada, Argentina. He was in charge of the construction and installation of the Felton Super Power Plant in Cuba.