Master Sergeant (ret.) Jindřich Souček

* 1932  

  • "I was lying on the sofa with my leg cut off. Slavek Čermák came with someone else, I don't remember who that was anymore. I thought, 'So my partners came to see me.' And they said, 'We're here to tell you that we've expelled you from the party.' I've had my id taken away before, that I was against the occupation, then it went on for a while. So they came to tell me I'd been expelled from the party. I thought they came to visit me as friends. But they gave me the greatest joy they could give me in my life. I'm in peace."

  • "And suddenly mouse typhus came. The whole school had mouse typhus. There was a hospital next door, so we were lying there. So I didn't lie there because I happened to be on duty at the car park, down there, somewhere else. We didn't leave the service, we chipped in, and this guy went to buy rum, so we all... We stayed there and were on duty for three weeks all the time. Calcium hypochlorite everywhere, everything closed. Mouse typhus manifested itself in the stomach, soldiers had fevers, diarrhea. It was from the mice and the rats because there was a bag of flour or lentils and they put iron on it. The mice went for it, the mouse was killed, and the blood flowed into the bags. Like I said, we had enough."

  • "I've seen things... There was the county office, the town hall tower, the cops, there were old houses across the street, those were destroyed, and this one was unscathed. Down on Ptak, that was the main road to Debr, where the bombs fell on the old factory, there was a warehouse, the factory wasn't working. There were yellow shoes, stored for soldiers, and plaid fabrics, packets of them. Half of Boleslav then walked in plaid shirts, it became obvious who was there, that they took it. They hit the Jizera bridge in Čejtice. That was it. And there was a credit union in the New Town, a sumptuous and large house. They hit an old building just outside the credit union. If there weren't people there, it'd be a good thing they got hit, they'd still have to be demolished and everything would disappear. There were a lot of casualties, it was an air raid without warning. Suddenly planes came in, bombs were falling. No one knew anything in advance, that was the worst, no warning. When people were at lunch, it fell."

  • "Well, as my mother stopped me, I stayed there and Mrs. Kmentova was approaching us from the right. We've heard before that the sound of heavy aircraft is coming from the west, and that there are more, that it’s more than one. After a while, we saw five or six planes come in. It was the same one we had seen earlier. This was clear from the front plates, it had glazed front round parts. We waved to them, they flew low, we thought, 'Oh, yes, those are the guys that were flying up there.' So we waved to them, 'Hey, guys!' They started to split up, the grouping of six planes began to spread wide. There was only one left in the field of view that flew straight. When it came to Boleslav, I saw something gleaming in the sun, something falling from underneath. Suddenly, a big detonation, explosion, a big plume of smoke. Mrs Kmentova grabbed her head and began to shout: 'Belvedere is on fire, there is our Bozena!' Her sister lived there, the Doskars was their name. Mrs. Kment was all... And another detonation, more smoke over Boleslav. So mom grabbed us, another detonation, we ran from Boleslav to the other side. We reached the end of the village, and there's a row of apple trees behind the last house. And from there, we heard there was a plane coming. But it wasn't a heavy plane, it was smaller. Mom hurried into the ditch. We lay in a ditch, and a biplane appeared low above the apple tree."

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    Český Dub, 31.03.2021

    (audio)
    duration: 02:03:45
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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Mom said, you’re not going to Boleslav! Soon the bombs were falling on the city.

A film by Jindřich Souček from the general strike in Český Dub, November 27, 1989
A film by Jindřich Souček from the general strike in Český Dub, November 27, 1989
photo: archiv Jindřicha Součka

Jindřich Souček was born on January 6, 1932 in Chrást near Mladá Boleslav. He came from a poor family, his father worked on the railway, his mother helped in agriculture. They had an even younger son. The war was experienced by a family without much drama, Jindřich Souček missed a lot of school due to air raids and other war events. The school turned into a hospital for wounded German soldiers, pupils were taught in a pub. The day after the end of The Second World War, on May 9, 1945, Jindřich Souček saw the bombing of Mladá Boleslav as a thirteen-year old. Historians attribute the airstrike with hundreds of casualties to the Soviet army, but Jindřich Souček is still convinced that he saw five or six American bombers coming from the west over Mlada Boleslav. After the war he became a carpenter, he spent military training in the 1950s in AA defense. Around the same time, he joined the Communist Party. At the barracks where he served, soldiers fell ill with mouse typhus. After basic military service, he became a longer-serving petty officer for the next two years. He then worked in the mines near Pilsen; he returned to Central Bohemia, from where he moved to Cesky Dub. He worked there in military car repair, and he and his wife adopted a daughter. In 1968 he photographed protests in Český Dub against the occupation of Czechoslovakia by the Warsaw Pact troops. He didn’t agree with the occupation. In 1970, he lost his right leg after a car accident. He was soon expelled from the Communist Party for his opposition to the entry of Warsaw Pact troops into Czechoslovakia. For the next 20 years, he worked as a worker in a pressing factory. In November 1989, he captured a general strike with his camera in Český Dub. After 2000, he participated in the creation of a carved nativity scene based on living people in Český Dub. In 2021 he lived in Český Dub.