Karol Steklý

* 1921  

  • “I supported them. I traveled by car and when they needed to move, when they went after them, we gave them some military clothes, we put some coat over their shoulders and I drove them back and forth to save them. I was in charge of an arms store, and what they needed, I had provided them. So they needed me out there, in the army of the Slovak State, not shooting someone. ”

  • "Then a group of officers escaped from us. My commander was Lieutenant Kremnický and he also fled. In fact, there was no need to run. It was enough to stay in one place, hide for a while and wait one or two days until the front arrived. But I never wanted to back down or fight against Slovak State. I have sworn fidelity to the Slovak State and Slovak Republic and I am still grateful for many things.”

  • “My unit commander was Stanek. As we marched past his house, we had to sing. His wife always went out in front of the house, waved us and greeted us. Such a nice lady. But she had a bad fate. Stanek was strongly opposed the Germans. And when the uprising broke out, the Gestapo came for him. As he put on his leather coat, he had a gun in his side pocket, and he managed to shot two members of gestapo through his sleeve and run away. His wife was pregnant at that time. She was then tortured here on Brezina and even has a monument there - Elena Stanekova. Every time we go there to celebrate, I go to her grave, because I remember how horrible was the ending of this poor woman. They smashed her head, ripped her belly open, and threw the baby's fetus beside her. Like that, they buried her in a mass grave. ”

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    Trenčín, 03.12.2019

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I didn’t go to war to kill people, I always only wanted to help

Karol Stekly before departure to the frontline, 1943
Karol Stekly before departure to the frontline, 1943
photo: súkromný archív K.S.

Karol Steklý was born on April 27, 1921 in Trenčín. The father of Czech origin was an Italian legionnaire, the mother was a housewife. After the establishment of the Slovak State, he accepted Slovak citizenship (his father was originally Czech), otherwise he would have had to leave Slovakia. In 1942, he enlisted in the army. At first he worked as a sapper in Nové Mesto nad Váhom. In August 1943, Karol was taken to Belarus on the Eastern Front as a member of the 2nd Infantry Division. At the end of November 1943, Karol’s unit was renamed the Technical Brigade and sent to Italy. In Italy, his unit did security and fortification work. During the operation of Slovak troops in Italy, about 220 soldiers joined partisans. Karol, however, continued to act as a soldier of the Slovak army. The war in Italy ended at the end of April 1945. The number of fallen Slovaks (including partisans) on the Italian front reached 127 men. After the end of the war he worked in the North Bohemian opencast brown coal mines in the Most region and later until his retirement in ZTS in Dubnica nad Váhom. During his time in World War II, he learned Russian and Italian, which he actively used throughout his work and in private. He interpreted for Italian delegations and worked as a construction worker in the Soviet Union. As a soldier, he was very interested in military technology, especially in aircraft. Since 1990, he was engaged in the idea of constructing a replica of the Caproni Ca 33 aircraft, in which in 1919 M. R. Štefánik crashed. The construction of the replica lasted from 1994 to 2003. The aircraft is exhibited in the entrance hall of the airport of M. R. Štefánik in Bratislava. He is a founding member of the M. R. Štefánik Society and a member of the Slovak Union of Anti-Fascist Fighters.