Colonel Václav Strupek

* 1918  

  • “We finished school and went to individual Squadrons. And then a really good war started because we were well dressed, we slept well, we pigged well. We were looked after well, I'm overflowing with praises of the English way of treating us. Slowly but certainly we were becoming the English therein a few years time. Not only their behavior but also their accoutrement and arms, it was of a quality... It was not France that a part of gun would come off. Great. So we soldiered in England for five years.”

  • “I was born in Potocký Street, today's Parléřova Street, to parents who already had two daughters. And my mother was a daughter of Nechojdoma, a very well-off private businessman and an owner of wine bars and restaurants. And this Nechojdoma always built a house for each of his daughters, the total of whom was six – he never had a single boy. So my mother was the landlady and my Dad was at the Electric Company so both of them were getting on well. And of course their daughter Marie was born, she was ten years older than me. And then daughter Kamila, who was seven years older than me. So there was I under the protectorate of the two daughters. This here is a photo of my parents, that's Dad and that's Mum. Unfortunately Mum died when I was fourteen. She was forty-two herself. And my Dad lived under the influence of the tragedy for about five or six more years and then died too. So I was an orphan. My Dad provided for me in the way that he obtained a rent for me at the Electric Company. A rent like for a former employee who worked in the Company for about forty years so I had to finish the Electrotechnical College. And I did, I graduated in 1938 but both my parents had already been dead."

  • “I can tell you my life philosophy: 'Behave yourself and you must expect that people will treat you well. If you aren't polite they will snub you whenever possible. And don't meddle in what stinks so much that you aren't in the position to face them. It was the reporting that the Limey taught me but I felt that wasn't it. I did it because it was war and it all was directed against the Germans. But after the war I said to myself and they – both general Píka and some friends of mine – they pushed me to reporting all the time. And I kept saying: 'You know what, kiss my ass with reporting. I'm in Energoproject now and I mind Energoproject and I do not want to do anything else for anyone else.'”

  • “And I met a friend who used to say: 'Hey, Vašek, I know someone who hires people for work.' And I said to him: 'Fuck it, you should have said it right away. Where is it?' And such. It was the cinema Skaut, the person was an engineer who lived in Prague and worked for Siemens-Schuckert Company. The Company Siemens-Schuckert Aktiengesellschaft, as we used to say, had this representative in Prague. And somehow he got to know about me so he rang up the shop of my sister Mráčková who was in Nerudova Street and who married a shoemaker. He had both a shop and a shoe repair shop - Karel Mráček. And I practically lived at his place 'cause my other sister lived in Brno. And here they stitched me on going to the Scout. I can't be unemployed, can I. So I went to the Scout, there was a very nice and smart engineer. He introduced himself and so on. He said he represented that Company and he would like me to work for this Company in Prague. I said it would be fantastic 'cause I lived in Prague of course. Great, I signed the contract. And the secretary spoke to him in German every now and then and I butted in at times. I was not terribly good at German but I could understand and such. And the secretary drew me up a temporary contract for the Siemens-Schuckert Aktiengesellschaft Company. Well, and when I came home I showed my brother-in-law Karel Mráček that I was employed. And he said: 'You are employed by Siemens-Schuckert Company?' And I said: 'How do you know?' And he replied: 'Because you left some invitation here and it was Siemens-Schuckert Company. And you feel like going to Germany?' And I said: 'Nooo, he hired me for Prague.' And he said: 'Did he? Give me the contract.' So I gave it to him, he sniffed at it - Karel Mráček, he was a joke – and he said: 'Kamila (to my sister), can you smell it? It stinks. Vašík, it stinks, be careful.' Well, careful or not, I signed the contract. And when I signed the contract they said: 'Well, go home, we don't have a place for you here but you will still be paid.' And it was when even I felt something fishy because I kept saying to myself: 'Fuck it, it's weird, employed, salary – wonderful salary on top of that, like an engineer. And to go home.' So I said to the engineer: 'But I'd like to slog away.' And he said: 'Exactly, that's the point. Look, you have signed the contract and you will be employed by Siemens-Schuckert Company but unfortunately, you have to go Nurenberg for the time being."

  • “And then came the critical period of time for me. Because Ist regiment, where I functioned as a trained radio operator, was moving to the front. As you know, when the Germans invaded France they were sending us to fight. We could do shit in contrast with them, we were soldiers beginners. But Ist regiment was ready, they had to join up and go to the front. And they sent us to fight. Well, we were all dumbfounded because we got some French officers whom we properly didn't understand. And we got some Czech officers who were exactly as dumbfounded as we were because it was their first time at the front. Well, it was no fun. And we came to the front and found out we were equipped in a wrong way. We had guns from 1914! And we had no munition for them! So they was of no use. We could lean on them as on crutches. Well, they were dusting our jackets of course. Ist regiment was being licked, if you excuse me, because it can't be said in other words. The Germans had tanks, buses, cars, equipment. We were like their poor relatives. Munition – we found out that the bullets didn't fit into the old guns so we had munition of no use and guns of no use. So we were loosing people one after another. Simply when the Germans snapped us it always meant about ten fifteen guys in capture. I had a good quality. I was a football player of the malostranský SK, I was a Sokol member from Sokol Hradčany, I kicked, I caught for Smíchov Technical College, so I was tough, simply an athlete. So it wasn't so bad for me but I felt bad. There were 3 300 Czech volunteers in the French army marching at the front. We went at the front and the older people, they couldn't any more. We went during the first night, the second one, the third one. Well, we athletes went OK, alright, but the others... 'Sir lieutenant,' a man said to me, 'please,' he lied at the road, 'give me your gun, I must shoot myself dead. I can't fall into the hands of Germans. I have got some reporting knowledge and they know how to get it all out of you. Please, give me the gun.' I said: 'Fuck it, it is a treason but what can I do.' So I loaded the gun and said: 'You have to shoot carefully because it recoils terribly, it's a fucker.' Well, and he zapped himself and I reported him dead. And I ran down with the others.”

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    Praha, Česká republika, 08.09.2003

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    duration: 01:15:09
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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“We were looked after well, I’m overflowing with praises of the way the English treated us. Slowly but certainly we were becoming the English there in a few years time. Not only their behavior but also their accoutrement and arms, it was of a quality... It was not France where a part of our gun would come off.”

Benes_Cholmondeley_leto_1940.jpg (historic)
Colonel Václav Strupek
photo: fotografie není k dispozici

Václav Strupek was born in Prague on July 24, 1918. His family was well-off. Unfortunately both his parents had died before he graduated from high school. He was looked after by his two elder sisters then. He graduated from II. State Electrotechnical College in Prague Smíchov in 1938. After his short military service and the occupation of Czechoslovakia he was dismissed from Military Academy. He was employed by Siemens-Schuckert Company. Due to the deceit of a representative he had to go to work to Nurenberg. After the outbreak of war he fled from there via Switzerland to France. He joined the Foreign Legion. After the German assault of France he fought in the Czechoslovak troop where he worked as a radio operator. He took part in fights on Marna, Seina, Loira and for his serving at the front he was awarded the Medal of Honour in England in 1941. In 1942 he was awarded the Czechoslovak War Cross by president Beneš. After the decline of France he was transported to Great Britain. Having studied English and having gone through another training he worked there as a technical officer in 310 and later especially in 312 Squadron. He was in charge of technical state of aircraft. After the war he worked for Central Czech Energetics and for Energoproject. He also had an additional source of earnings in translation from English and French. Because of his connections with general Píka and his son Milan he was interrogated by StB (State Security) a few times.