Vasil Timkovič

* 1923  

  • "And from there we got step by step to Dukla and it was a terrible massacre, I remember, I served at the time at a 120 mm mortar and there was an experienced commander, it was Captain Bedrich, and he says, look, when the volley falls on these hills and so on, run immediately, because there were so many wounded, they begged, one had his hand torn off, another one his leg and they cried and we ran right away to get to the other side, I do not remember the name of the village where to hide because the Messerschmitts flew above us and they were dropping bombs."

  • "We were preparing the track, everything by hand, there it should have connected Vorkuta, Kotlas, Kotlas Moscow. They said: We will build a railway, there will be one corpse under each sleeper. So that was the way how it was. Do you remember the ration you received? Look, there were the record breakers and the Stackhanov adherents, all for a piece of bread, but they all died out, they worked themselves to death like I don't know what, and they didn't survive, it's not a question of eating bread, and so on, the question is survival."

  • "It was in the prison when we slept next to each other, we slept on one side, there was an announcer upstairs, now lie on the left side from the right, they could not sleep on their backs because there was little space, the one who slept at the 'parasha' bucket (common bucket) , where people went to pee, etc., they smelled terribly, they were poured, it was terrible and we called come here, take out a bucket, and they didn't want to take it out, and it overflowed, but then as the underaged we got to another prison, Izjumu etc. , and it was better there."

  • "The Russians were sitting on some heights, and when we ran to the other side, they ran to us and shouted: drop your weapons, and we said we don´t have any, hands up and they started searching us. By the morning there were about 30 of us. They lined us up to Skole, it was a Polish territory, and they said, step to the right, step to the left, the convoy will shoot. I'd like to run away, into the woods, but I'm saying, I won't risk it, maybe a bullet will hit me and it I will die."

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    Česká Třebová, 06.03.2019

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    Česká Třebová, 24.10.2019

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    Česká Třebová, 07.12.2019

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    duration: 54:50
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The biggest massacre was at Dukla

Vasil Timkovič shortly after the war
Vasil Timkovič shortly after the war
photo: archive of the witness

Vasil Timkovic was born on March 21, 1923 in the village of Skotarskoe in Carpathian Ruthenia as the youngest of four children in the family of a forest manager. He studied at the secondary grammar school in Mukachevo. After the German occupation of Czechoslovakia, when the republic also lost Carpathian Ruthenia, Vasil and two classmates from the secondary grammar school decided to run away abroad. The boys believed that the Slavic brothers would welcome them in a friendly way and allow them to fight for the liberation of their homeland. But the Soviet Union opened the gates of the gulag to 15-year-old Vasil. The boys were caught just across the border and transported to the Polish city Skole. They were then transferred to a prison in Kharkov, where they were sentenced to three years for illegally crossing the border. Vasil worked those years in Pechorlag camp (Pechora Correctional Labor Camp), where he built the Vorkuta - Moscow railway line. After the end of his sentence, he was offered to go to Buzuluk, where a Czechoslovak military unit was being formed at that time. He underwent a basic training in Buzuluk, took part in the liberation of Kiev and moved to Slovakia via Dukla. There he was up to the end of the war. As a citizen of the pre-war Czechoslovak Republic, he saw the capital city of Prague for the first time in May 1945 during a ceremonial military parade. He was 22 years old. He never returned permanently to Carpathian Ruthenia, which became a part of the Soviet Union after the war. The family in Scotarskoe had no news about him, so they had him searched by the Red Cross. After they contacted him, Vasil Timkovič went to Skotarskoe. Unfortunately, he no longer found his father, who was taken away by the NKVD (People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs) two days before his arrival. His brother and three sisters stayed in the Carpathian, Vasil Timkovič returned to Czechoslovakia. He graduated from a high school and was offered to stay with the army. He served in the Czechoslovak army all his life. As a war veteran, he stood at the birth of the local union of the Czechoslovak Legionary Community in Ústí nad Orlicí and for many years he was its chairman. Colonel Vasil Timkovič currently lives in Česká Třebová.