Ing. František Suchý
* 1927 †︎ 2018
This is an interview between František Suchý and Zdeněk Zelený. In fact, it deals with the same topic as the recording "Classes of prisoners" and it overlaps with it partially. Mr. Zelený adds that he witnessed beating of Mr. Plaček, who had been the head of the prison in Ruzyně. Also prisoners who were disloyal to other prisoners and cooperated with warders were sometimes beaten.
A video recording of the interview with František Suchý and Zdeněk Zelený. They remember the Nazi co-prisoners. When asked about the chief of the Lidice troops, Mr. Zelený says: „It was not a human being.“ He worked in the boiler-room and had „a plenty of food“. Other prisoners, however, didn't talk to such people. „I would have preferred solitary confinement to being with such a man in a cell,“ Mr. Zelený says.
A short video recording of the interview with František Suchý and Zdeněk Zelený. It is about prison escapes. None of them had planned to escape as they saw what happened to the escaped ones who were caught again. They weren't so „adventurous“. An escape was just the last option for them.
Interviewer: „Could you describe to me what was happening in the crematorium during the time of communism? After 1948?“
„So the only excess I saw when one father arrived saying a girl under eighteen had been burnt. She should have returned from prison – I don't know exactly where or not she had been executed. They brought there corpses of the executed people – they were in coffins and the urns should have been destroyed without a funeral. My father hid the urn with Horáková's ashes and had been keeping it until he was arrested. I personally had it in my hands.“
Interviewer: „And what should have happened according to the communists?“
„The urns should have been dug underground without marking names. The ashes should have been mixed with the others and should have been nameless. You can ask Stehlík from the Confederation of Political Prisoners who knows better what happened with the urns mainly from the crematorium in Motol after 1952.
Interviewer: „Could you please compare the Nazis and communists? What was the difference, if any? I mean when you compare it from the point of view of a crematorium man. What did it look like?“
“It is hard to compare. During the rule of the Nazis, there was martial rule. The Germans cut heads. The Germans had axe executioners and executed people in the shooting-range in Kobylisy. It was completely different. In 1948 it was peace, not a war. The corpses didn't arrive in boxes but in coffins and they had a coroner's report, a death certificate – hanged, for example. Everything was lawful – only the relatives were not allowed to be present – there was no funeral and nobody knew about it. The urns had to be kept and we were not allowed to give them to the relatives. And the urns should have been put to a common burial ground.“
Pavel Paleček, historian: “During the war, more than 2200 corpses were burnt illegally in Strašnice during the third shift. The names of most of them were recorded by Mr. Suchý's father.“
Interviewer: „Didn't anybody find it out? It was very risky ...“
F.S.: „They didn't find it out. You know, there was the dust which was taken from the chimney of the crematorium which was then put to the compost. My father hoped that if they had asked, he would have shown them this dust. But this dust was just dust – in the ashes from the corpses there are remnants of bones and so on. But my father relied on that. And really, finally the chief of the prison in Pankrác asked him about it. But my father took him to the compost and showed him that. And he suggested analysing it but the chief believed him.
Interviewer: „And you, as a boy, when watching it, did you know about all that?“
F.S.: „Of course, I did. It was all taking place at our place. I watched the burning of the corpses in the boxes; the blood was spurting. When I arrived at the burning place in the morning, there was so much blood I could almost wade. You know, there were decapitated people and the blood was still pouring out.“
„When the interrogation stopped, the interrogator, a secret policeman, drew two divergent lines on the table. He said, »Look, if you sign it, you will be released. If not, you will be hanged.« I didn't know that even if I had signed it, they wouldn't have let me go. I was naive – I imagined they would have let me go. However, I didn't sign it.”
Interviewer: „Why didn't you sign it?“
„Because of my principles. That is why I cannot excuse anybody who says he hed to sign the collaboration with the secret police. Who could have blamed me then? I was 25 then. And I didn't do that! If people say they did it because of their job, children, or other people – I don't accept it. I cannot approve of that.“
“Well, I think Mírov was the worst one because I got to Bory and Leopoldov when political prisoners were treated differently. The fifties were not the worst – I was in Mírov and Opava then. In Opava I worked for a technical institute: They wanted some mental labour from us and thus it was impossible to torture us like in a normal prison. But it was not anything pleasant because working with drawings for twelve hours was not pleasant at all. And, of course, they tried to make it as much unpleasant as it was possible: for example by solitary confinement. And there was a time when I had to go there every six weeks as one warder „loved“ me so much that when he saw me I knew I was going there.
Interviewer:„What was it like in solitary confinement?“
„Solitary confinement – hard bed and we had just one meal in three days. I was there usually for five days. Or I was there for spreading religious propaganda – I simply didn't know why. Or once one prisoner from my cell escaped so they put me there just to ask me if I knew anything about it. Simply – you didn't say hallo, did that, had a dirty … Well, every time there was solitary confinement.“
“Look, in prison there was a kind of hierarchy. Imagine a pyramid. At the top, there were people who refused to work. It was Stehlík, for example. He explicitly refused and he had a hard life. The second part was the people who worked but only if they were ordered so. They did nothing for the communist without an explicit order. When I was ordered to go to the bathroom, I went there. When I was ordered to go to the cinema, I went there. But without an order I never did anything. And then there were groups of people who wanted to please the authorities. So they worked overtime, maybe they wanted more money – to put it simply, they worked more than they had to. Another group was people who agreed to cooperate with the secret police; they did everything to have advantages, such as watching TV and so on. And then there were informers and similar criminals. So it was like that.“
Interviewer: „And which group was the largest?“
„The largest group was the people who worked more than it was necessary to get out of prison. We, who did everything only when told, were a minority – we didn't have any advantages. There were some people like us, of course, but not so many.
Note: See also the video recording “Hierarchy in prison“
Full recordings are available only for logged users.
After ten years in prison you get used to it so much that you are not attracted by living outside
Ing. František Suchý was born in Prague on 17 April 1927. His father became the director of the crematorium in Prague, Strašnice. František witnessed burning corpses of prisoners who were executed by the Nazis and then by communists. After February 1948 he got involved in anti-communist activities and in 1952 he was arrested as he had helped an agent called Koudelka. He was sentenced to 25 years; also his parents should have gone to prison for 4 and 4.5 years. He was in many prisons: Pankrác, Mírov, Opava, Bory, Leopoldov. In prison he also worked as a designer (e.g. for the Tatra company). He was released in 1964 and then he worked as a fitter and later designer for Kovodílo. František Suchý passed away on June, the 7th, 2018.