Evžen Švihlík

* 1930  

  • Why father got arrested by the NKVD "Because he killed a piglet, he was the ninth or tenth of the litter, it didn't want to eat so he got rid of him. As it was done on a farm. Something isn't right, it's killed, we won't feed it for nothing. The police investigated and dad told them, face to face, 'yes, I ordered it killed.'"

  • “And only a few of them came, across the village, about fifty of them went there. I thought that they were not that many. In Russian among us… we have to run away or they will shoot us on the spot. So they came to some conclusion at those headquarters, that place there. And he says in the other direction: I will run there but it was two kilometres away. And suddenly, there were fires. So everyone ran away without a shot being fired.”

  • “At that centre in Rychnov u Jablonce – and there were other such centres: there were those dubious agents whose task was to find settlers for the abandoned borderlands. So you will go here or there or elsewhere, we didn’t even know that Karlovy Vary exist, even less that it’s a spa town, there was not a single line about it. Now they talk about it on TV how it looks in different countries. So, at the end, they decided we would go to the Karlovy Vary area, that’s West Bohemia, but where’s West Bohemia?”

  • "So, that steed, dad took him to the garden and tied him there, a cow was tied, the pig was chased out. Sheep and chickens, stacks of straw. They set that on fire too. We are outside, standing, Věra, my mom, grandma, they were throwing things out of the windows. My little sister was in the cradle with straw bedding, she burned to death there. My brother Kolja had died before."

  • "We waited for him every day. No news, no messages, nothing and suddenly, dad was at home. There was a heartfelt welcome. He was gone for three years, or two and half, I had grown a bit. He brought some things from Germany, like, things for shaving."

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Mezirolí, 22.07.2020

    (audio)
    duration: 01:33:59
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

Everyone had to work in the kolkhoz, children included

Evžen Švihlík at the age of sixteen.
Evžen Švihlík at the age of sixteen.
photo: archiv E. Š.

Evžen Švihlík was born in the village of Rožděstveno in the Tula region in the Soviet Union. His ancestors, the Volhynian Czechs, came from the community of Noviny České. In the USSR, Evžen‘s father was a smallholder and agriculture worker, in 1930, his estate was nationalised and transformed into a kolkhoz, an agricultural co-op(*). In the second half of the 1930’s, Josef Švihlík was arrested by the NKVD [Narodnyy Komissariat Vnutrennikh Del; People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs, secret police] for killing a pig and he was held in custody for nine months. After the outbreak of war between Soviet Union and Germany, Rožděstvenstvo was occupied by the Nazis. Probably for helping the resistance fighters, the Nazis burned the village to them ground in winter 1941. The Švihlík house was destroyed but the family managed to run away and save their lives. However, all the family photographs and documents were destroyed. In 1942, Evžen’s uncle Viktor joined the Czechoslovak army units operating in Buzuluk and on the 8th March 1943, he fell during the battle of Sokolovo. He became a war hero and was awarded the Czechoslovak War Cross 1939 posthumously. Evžen’s father Josef Švihlík was conscripted to the Red Army. He participated in operations near Kursk where he suffered a serious injury. Until the end of the war, he served as a cook at the First Ukrainian Front. After 1945, the Švihlík family moved to their relatives in Volhnynia and in 1947, they moved, along with other Volhynian Czechs, to Czechoslovakia. They settled in West Bohemia, in Mezidolí near Karlovy Vary. Evžen Švihlík apprenticed as a blacksmith but for all his life, until he retired, he worked in a construction company. He still lives in Mezidolí. (*) In the 1920’s, these agricultural co-ops were established voluntarily, from 1928 on, the creation of kolkhozes was forced.