Vladimír Souček

* 1915

  • “After I passed the entrance examination, I was accepted. It was in the Žitomír region where you had to have a passport. Just like we have ID cards here, you had to carry a passport then. I went to see the chairman of our committee that administered three Bohemian villages – Okolek, Ivanoviče and Krušinec. It was one national Bohemian community. I needed a receipt from him to get my new passport. He was a hardened Communist. He told me: ‘You have to work in the Kolkhoz. We need you here, not at the university! We need you at the Kolkhoz’. You know, of course I felt very sorry for it.”

  • “In Germany, when we were crossing the Oder River, the bridges had been torn down and we couldn’t cross. We had to construct a pontoon bridge and crossed over it. We saw our Russian soldiers retreating only with their horses – and the little canons, the forty-fivers and seventy-sixes, had been left behind. Everybody was retreating. Our battery crossed the pontoon bridge, deployed the cannons and waited. We didn’t have enough ammunition because the supplies hadn’t arrived, yet. We were left with about four shells per gun. The Germans rushed forth against us with fourteen tanks and artillery vehicles. The commander of the regiment ordered us to let them come closer and shoot to kill. It was like a miracle – after almost every shot, one German tank burst into flames. I grabbed a machine gun and opened fire at the German soldiers on the tanks. Therefore, I was afterwards decorated by the regimental commander with the Order of the Patriotic War.”

  • “I couldn’t protest, but when I worked there as an economist I was surrounded by the chairman of the district committee, the chief of the NKVD, and the president of the court. They all became my friends. They took me as a fair guy. I wasn’t against the government but I wasn’t enjoying it either. You know, you had to carry out the orders. I helped a lot of people that were sentenced.”

  • “We got 500 roubles. I got this money for taking the job, before I even showed up there. It was on a Saturday. I was discarded from the records of the district committee because I was supposed to begin to study at that NKVD college on Monday. On Sunday, when I was about to say goodbye to my family because I was supposed to leave, the bells started ringing. We went out in order to find out what’s happening. Usually, the bells rang when someone died. This was on a Sunday and after a while we learned that the Germans had declared war on the Russians. I had no idea what I was supposed to do because I had already discarded from the records. They mobilized quite quickly but since my file was already discarded. What was I supposed to do? Stay or leave? But where was I supposed to go? There was a war raging on, there was nowhere to go. So I took the papers and threw them into a fire. I stayed.”

  • “The Jews were the first ones to be persecuted – they were moved to one room, men and women alike. The women stayed home and the men went to work on the field next to the railroad. They had to dig huge pits. While digging, they were ordered to sing. When they finished the work, they took the Jewish men and women, lined them up in front of the pits and shot them. They threw the little kids into the pits alive. They burned an awful lot of Jewish villages in the Ukraine. It was more than 300 villages. They did the same thing to the Jewish villages what they did to Lidice and Ležáky in Czechoslovakia.”

  • Full recordings
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    Byl Vladimíra Součka, 23.05.2004

    duration: 01:19:13
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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“Shoot them and that’s it.”

A present-day picture of Vladimír Souček
A present-day picture of Vladimír Souček
photo: Soukromý archiv Vladimíra Součka

Vladimír Souček was born on August 28, 1915, in the Ukraine into a family of peasants with Bohemian roots. In the Ukraine, he went to school. He wanted to study medicine but the local Communist authorities made it impossible for him. Instead, he was assigned to the newly created Kolkhoz. Because of his talent, he was, however, eventually sent to a business college. After his studies, he worked as the economist of the Kolkhoz and later in the local administration. He was the communal economist in the period of the German occupation of the Ukraine. After the Red Army entered the Ukraine, he signed up for service. After basic training, he was assigned to the artillery and fought in battles in the Ukraine, Poland, Germany and also witnessed the liberation of Czechoslovakia. He arrived in Prague with his unit on May 9, 1945. Afterwards, he stayed shortly in Kladno and Ústí nad Labem. He was demobilized in the autumn of 1945. He returned to the Ukraine only to move to Czechoslovakia again in 1947--this time for good. He obtained a farmstead in the border region where he farmed privately. His farming was, however, interrupted by the forced collectivization and the compulsory joining of the JZD (a Czechoslovak Kolkhoz) in 1950. In the JZD, he worked as a technician responsible for the livestock, an economist and a tractor driver.