Alexandr Stejskal

* 1945  

  • "Já jsem viděl těch žebráků tam, tady měli kopu vyznamenání, bez nohou byli, bez rukou, a měli takový pytlíky jako zavázaný na zádech. Já říkám ‚Mami, kam jsi mě to dovezla?‘ a ona říká ‚To jsou bransky,‘ oni jim říkali Češi bransky, těm, co jezdili z hlubokýho Ruska tady na tu Volyň pro chleba. Vemte si, deset roků po válce a oni ještě prakticky jezdili na to, aby vůbec uživili rodinu, jakej musel bejt obrovskej hlad v tom Rusku. Ještě deset roků po válce! To si nikdo neumí představit. Já když jsem je viděl, já jsem se úplně zhrozil, úplně jsem se rozbrečel. Já jsem na to vždycky vzpomínal, já jsem nic takového neviděl do té doby. A nebo jsme pak přišli k takovýmu kostelu, už jsme přijeli tam jako na místo, tam je takzvaná Počajivská lávra, tam to je taková uctívaná, opravdu památka, velká památka a my jsme tam přijeli, nesmělo se tam, protože to byl jinej okres, to jste se museli hlásit, když jedete do jiného okresu. My jsme tam byli tak nějako, že jsme ani nevěděli, že to je jinej okres. A my jsme tam přijeli a u toho kostela takhle tam bylo na těch vozejčkách, bez rukou. Byli opitý, protože jim nic jiného nezbývalo. Oni dostávali úplnou almužnu ty lidi. Měli v tom městě, v té Vrbě třeba, tam bylo napsáno 'Čajna', teď je to Čína, se říká, ale tam byla 'Čajna', to je... čaj tam byl. Měli tam černej chleba nakrájenej a měli tam každej takovej kousiček špeku. A to dostávali tyhleti invalidi to dostávali zadarmo, s tím čajem.

  • "Češi tam dovezli... děda tam dovezl, když tam byl s těma rodičema, tak tam dovezli pluh. A řeknu vám, ten pluh, to obdivovali tak jako když se jezdí tady do Brna na výstavu, tak tam jezdili ti atamani normálně se koukat, co to je za čert. Prej 'To je nějakej čert, to obrací zem!' Předtím tam oni orali tu půdu hákama. To měli takovej, říkali tomu socha, to táhli a ženský normálně s motykama a hrabičkama to urovnávaly. A když tam přijel děda, tak si zapálil cigaretu, to ruchadlo postavil do řádku prvního a a držel to za jednu ruku to držadlo a šel vedle. Tak ten ataman tam říkal 'Čech, já ti postavím barák za to, za to všechno, že ty to naučíš ty kozáky tady,' on říkal kozáky těm kovářům, 'Ty je naučíš, jak se to dělá!' A tak oni přijeli, oni byli velice šikovní ti kováři, okoukli ten pluh a za 14 se tam rojily pluhy po celý tý... Ty Češi tam dovezli kulturu, dovezli tam... třeba takový jenom poznatek krátkej. Začali vyvážet hnůj, mrvu chlévskou, na pole. A Ukrajinci říkali 'To bude to obilí smrdět! Ježišmarja co děláte Češi!' No a pak viděli takovýhle klasy, o tolik vyšší, tak začali i tu mrvu odendávali a začali taky teda ten pozemek hnojit si, přihnojovat, aby měli lepší úrodu"

  • “I came there for the first time in 1955; I was ten years old and Mum took me with her. We changed trains in Lviv - that was a beautifully repaired train station, it wasn’t bombed up, it was newly repaired, and I came there with my mother. We went into the waiting room, and our train left four hours later. We stepped down inside, and when I saw all those people missing arms, missing legs, all those front-liners decorated with medals. Some of them even sat on these wide pieces of plank, they had four wheels, and they pushed themselves about along the ground, moving around. And I said: ‘Mum, where have you taken me?’ I remember bursting into tears. Afraid. I’d never seen so many invalids. Those were all war veterans, and Mum told me at the time: ‘You know, those are people from Russia.’ That was in 1955, to bring the children some bread and potatoes. So just imagine what it was like in Russia a whole ten years after the war. They didn’t have basic groceries.”

  • “Some six thousand of our soldiers came here in 1945, who’d fought in the Czechoslovak Army Corps, including the 400 girls, so they already stayed put in Bohemia. After the end of the second world war. And we arrived, you could say practically in less than two years, in the bitterest of frost in February; we arrived in the kind of freight wagons they’d used to take Jews to Auschwitz in - so they used those same wagons to take us here. In February. So they were plugged up with straw, and off we went before Comrade Stalin changed his mind, so they wouldn’t keep us there... In the course of two and a half months, 33,000 of us came here; I was two years old at the time. So some 39 to 40,000 of us came here in all, quite a lot.”

  • “And when they came saying that they’d de-kulak us, Gramps poured the Russian major about half a litre of vodka and then, when he’d softened up, he took Gramps around the shoulders and said: ‘Czech, I know what you built up here, I’m not that stupid. But I got an order. I’ve come to de-kulak you, but what am I to do. If I don’t de-kulak you, they’ll strip my stripes off and send me to Siberia.’ So he said: ‘You know what, I’ll take just four beehives, say that we hadn’t found you here, that you’d been away somewhere.’ So they came to an agreement like that with Gramps, they took and loaded the four beehives on to car with the soldiers. The bees flew out, stung them, as they’d chucked them in a heap there, and someone then took them and brought them back again.”

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Broumovský klášter, 18.12.2017

    (audio)
    duration: 01:25:41
    media recorded in project The Stories of Our Neigbours
  • 2

    Broumovský klášter, 16.07.2018

    (audio)
    duration: 02:04:39
  • 3

    Hradec Králové ED, 29.11.2019

    (audio)
    duration: 02:36:14
    media recorded in project Příběhy regionu - HRK REG ED
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

Be grateful we have such a beautiful country, and fight to make sure we never know war again

Alexandr Stejskal was born on 10 April 1945 in the Czech village of Sofievka in Volhynia, which is now a part of Ukraine. Alexandr’s grandfather Josef Stejskal had immigrated to Volhynia with his family after the end of the Austro-Prussian War in 1866, when Czech lands were rife with poverty and tsarist Russia had cheap land for sale. The Volhynian Czechs persevered through hard times, built up houses, schools, churches, culture houses; they ploughed fields and soon began to thrive. Alexandr’s grandfather and other relatives fought as Czechoslovak legionaries in World War I, and Alexandr’s father and uncles took part in the fighting of World War II, including the Battle of Moscow, the tank battles at Kursk, or the Battle of Kiev. Alexandr and his family returned to Czechoslovakia in 1947 and settled down in Broumov, in an area emptied by the deportation of Sudeten Germans. He regularly returns to Volhynia to honour the memory of his ancestors, and he is a member of the Association of Czech from Volhynia and Their Friends. He still lives in Broumov, where he worked for many years as a fireman and where he and his wife Olga raised two daughters.