František Švrček

* 1912  †︎ 2008

  • "I was in a tank unit in England, and they took us from England over the Channel and we fought there. I fought at Dunkirk."

  • "The first thing the Spanish guards at the borders did, was to say: 'Salud, camaradas!' 'Hey, friends!' So we knew that we were in Spain already, and we crossed the borders. They took us in, gave us food and drink and everything."

  • "When we got there, so they were checking all of us, everyone who was joining the Czechoslovak Army was given a full background check, in case they were criminals or something."

  • "First off we met up in Hodonín, there were five of us I think, and we moved on, to Vienna. They didn't catch me in Austria, we were at the station, waiting for the train to go on from Vienna. I was sitting with one of ours at the train station and this chap came along and said for us to show where we were headed. So we showed him, and he took the tickets and [said]: 'Come with me!' So we went along together, and he was holding me by the collar like this, so I twisted out of his grasp and legged it to the exit."

  • "Those were mostly volunteers, and we had everything, the Spaniards took care of us, because they knew help had arrived, the help of organized soldiers. The Spaniards themselves, the ones who took us in, didn't have much to do with military service. The cooks, those were Czechoslovaks and Poles because it was and organized Polish-Czechoslovak battle unit."

  • "He saw that I crossed from the left side to the right, so he saw that I was aforeign chap who didn't know to ride on the right. I rode along and he stopped me. I held the bike like this and he took hold of the handlebars and spoke at me in German. I didn't understand him to start with, he was holding my bike by the handlebars and so I stepped down on the pedal like this and shoved the bike into his feet. He fell down over it and I started legging it."

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Nížkovice u Slavkova u Brna, 12.04.2006

    duration: 01:12:12
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

He never talked much about his work, with him, everything was a military secret

photo: archiv pamětníka

František Švrček was born on the 12th of August 1912 in Mutěnice (Hodonín district) to a smallholder family that had six children. In his youth he was active in the DTJ (Workers’ Gymnastics Union), politically he tended towards social democracy. He spent his two years of compulsory service in Nitra. From the Summer of 1937 he was a member of the International Brigades in Spain. As a member of the Czechoslovak Foreign Army he fought in France, from there he moved to England; he returned to the Continent to fight at Dunkirk. After the war, he became a professional soldier, he never had any problems with the reign of the Communist regime, throughout his participation in the Spanish Civil War nor for his stay in the Western Army.