“The office of employment sent us, the students of grammar schools to a hops farm where we would help to collect the hops. It was in the Sudetenland, in the region of Litoměřice and Úštěk. We went there on a transport and by coincidence we passed through Theresienstadt where we saw striped men at work. Previously, the Germans gave us food for the trip – a half loaf of bread and some salami. When we saw these poor slave laborers, all of us started throwing our food in their direction. The transport was about twenty railroad cars long and the students from all the cars were throwing their food to the inmates. Of course, they reacted by eagerly eating it. This was fascinating in a way. Now the German soldiers ran to them with their rifles shouting at them to leave it alone. So we realized that this must be the concentration camp and in fact we saw it with our own eyes. The inmates had a stripe of their hair shaved off to mark them.”
“The public process was in June in a local theater. They exhibited everything they had confiscated from our house. This included the fridge or the provisions of food that we had kept above a certain level. My mom was leasing a field and her leaseholder was giving her some corn. They exhibited this too. My brother was about to marry and he bought a stove and a fridge. They put this on display as well. There were all sorts of things, little things. They exploited everything they could against us. The mood at that time was really horrible; this exceeded all imaginable standard civic behavior.”
“I needed to organize my mother’s funeral so I asked for a five-day leave. The company commander took great joy in testing my knowledge of the code of conduct of a soldier on leave – how he was supposed to behave and the like. He warned me not to get drunk. I told him that I’m going home to bury my mother who had died. He was terribly primitive.”
„Milota Fanderlik had a debate with us in 1968 and 1969. He tried to persuade us that we should establish a department of computers. At that time! But he just had a nose for it. He was a very educated and knowledgeable man. He was a professor.”
“The police and the militia came to our house on March 8, 1951 and they raided the house from top to bottom. They found some merchandise in our house and therefore they arrested my brother and my dad. At the time, I didn’t even know what had happened at home because I was in Prague. I only came home the next week because of conscription. I was returning home at about midnight. I came to our house and saw that it had been sealed. I went to the neighbors, to the local pub, asked them what was going on. They said: ‘you don’t know what happened? Your parents were arrested over a week ago’. I slept over at their place and the next day I went to the conscription and then to the local police station because I needed to pick up some things at our place. I packed what I could inside my suitcase and said goodbye to my former home.”
“My dad was writing letters to my mom from prison even after she had already been buried. He didn’t know about it. My father and my brother only found out about her death half a year later when they had to sign the power of attorney for the inheritance procedure. That’s the sort of harsh realities of life.”
“...Ludvík Svoboda had a speech there that we didn’t like. The reason we didn’t like it was that he spoke about some united youth under the umbrella of the federation. This was in 1946 and we didn’t like the famous general’s speech, the speech of the leader of legendary armies.”
“There was an SS-Kraftfahr-Park with lined-up Ukrainians wearing SS uniforms. They were not Vlasov’s men – these were SS men. One of them was sitting on the fountain. We came to him and asked him how it was possible that he’s wearing a German uniform and was Ukrainian. He took a post stamp with Hitler on it, spat on it and said: ‘Gitler něcharašo, Stalin něcharašo, Churchill charašo!’ This was the definition of how he understood things.”
“At lights-out, we had to march and sing various songs about Korea and that ‘who’s not with us is against us’. There was a verse saying ‘we’ll meet at work’ but we would sing instead ‘we’ll meet at the Palace’. Palácka or ‘The Palace’ was a bar and a hotel in Ostrava where the members of the PTP would go quite often. He shouted: ‘stop singing! Sing again!’ But we sang again ‘we’ll meet at the Palace’. So he drove us outside and we had to perform an air-raid alert exercise running around the barracks. There were quite absurd situations arising from this – for instance, the boys would make graveyard crosses during that exercise. We ran around the barracks and there was this notorious pub that is referred to in Maryčka Magdonová from Petr Bezruč. Right next to that pub, he said again that there’s an air-raid alert. At the moment he said this, all the lads were in the pub, except for Imrich Hanušovský from Košice, who shouted at the women walking from the bus station: “Ladies, come and lie down in the ditch, there’s an air-raid alert’.”
“By coincidence, I was at the cemetery. Suddenly, I heard some uproar. I didn’t know what was going on was so I went to find out. As soon as I saw it, I ran away. I didn’t want to see it. They were beating them and then they executed them. Eventually, they had to exhume them anyway as it happened behind the graveyard wall. These were useless and nasty excesses.”
Scouting is a game – quite a few things in life are a game as well. But this wasn’t a game, this was my real life.
Bohuslav Strauch was born on December 22, 1929, in Police nad Metují, in a family of a small entrepreneur – a furrier and a hat maker. Before the war, he joined a Scout troop. During the war, he continued in his scouting activities and becomes a member of the readers’ club “Young announcer – the defenders of the cliffs of Police” that had been founded by his friends. After the war, he joined the Junák again and was in charge of a troop. He also participated in the forest school. After he graduated from grammar school, he was accepted to the Faculty of Natural Sciences of the Charles University. In 1951, the family was put on trial and his father was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment. His brother was sentenced as well – he got 12,5 years. The entire property of the family was confiscated. Mr. Strauch was called up for military service and had to serve with the auxiliary technical battalions (PTP). He was classified as “E” – “politically unreliable” and located to Radvanice nearby Ostrava, where he worked as a miner in the Ludvík pit. His mother was released from prison but was later detained again and after a long interrogation, she allegedly committed suicide. Mr. Strauch was released in 1954. He reinitiated his studies in the same year. The next year, he filed a complaint against the chief prosecutor’s office in the case of his father and brother. Both were subsequently released from prison. However, the family was fully rehabilitated only in 1989. He finished his studies in 1957. He worked at the Chair of non-organic chemistry until his retirement in 1995. He spent most of his time researching molecular spectroscopy. He became active in the Scout again during the so-called “second regeneration” of the Scout in 1968-1970. He was in charge of a Scout troop of the Prague center of the Arrows. During the period of the so-called Normalization, he lost his son who died in the Tatra Mountains. After the Velvet revolution, he contributed to the democratization of the Faculty of Natural Sciences. In 1990, he defended his scientific thesis and was inaugurated an associate professor. He was given several awards for his scientific and pedagogic activities.