Josef Třešňák

* 1945

  • “I have maybe kilometres of film at home, more than this could contain, and I’m trying to process it all now. We made thousands of slides and films – reels with kilometres of film. We even filmed how submarines, [class] 25 and 30, make it through the Kiel canal, because there was no knowing how they did it. My wife and I went for a trip to the north, to Denmark. We sailed on the Elbe and then through the Kiel Canal. Suddenly, there is a sub sailing past – submerged! I have it on film! No one knew these subs could sail submerged – a mariner was standing on the deck with a flag and just moving by! We did something that was forbidden: we navigated the Kiel Canal under sail.”

  • “They explained the economic relationships between France and Africa to us at the time. I know; I went to symposia organised by the Chinese Embassy, and they told us they needed a programme for a few of such people. I actually have a business card from that Chinese economist – ‘Please suggest a programme!’ So, I ask: ‘For how many?’ He goes, 250 million people; they needed a programme for them, in the west of China. We just have no idea of how big the country is.”

  • “I went to church in Mojžíř with grandma, of course. My mother fell sick with TBC shortly after I was born. So, obviously, I had to do everything with grandma – and that was my biggest schooling. It was a school of survival. My mother was in a sanatorium in Ryjice, which was renowned because of the air currents coming all the way from the sea to Blansko and Ryjice. The place was famed, and I would walk to see her all the way up from Neštěmice at age five! Imagine the courage of the parents who let a five-year-old walk all the way to Ryjice – but they knew they had to prepare us for living. So, I went to see mum, crawled under the fence, and she would hide me in the bedroom. Of course, her roommates kept mum about it. That was the beginning of my independence in life.”

  • “Since I was part of the fourth department [of the StB] in Ústí nad Labem, I was assigned certain tasks as a priority, such as: Sail your boat to Hamburg and stay there until you can bring back evidence that Germans export Krupp guns to Israel. So, I made a film about it, documenting everything. My wife and daughters were there with me. We travelled all over Europe that way, and they got used to this way of living. We actually did find out about the trafficking. I filmed a ship onto which Krupp cannons were loaded. Since I had an acquaintance at the airport in Hamburg where they made the Airbus planes, I have photos and everything here… His boys were one year older than my children. He would navigate me; in addition, he used to fly over the Czech Republic borders – he could do that, and he gave me photos of our borderland. You could see how worn it was, the forests dying. He gave me all that, and also all the information, since he was into electronics, on the equipment for the Airbus.”

  • Full recordings
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    Ústí nad Labem, 28.05.2022

    duration: 01:49:18
    media recorded in project Příběhy regionu - Ústecký kraj
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StB agent: I served the people of this country and am not ashamed of that!

The witness during his military service, Terezín, 1964
The witness during his military service, Terezín, 1964
photo: archiv pamětníka

Josef Třešňák loved water all his life. He was born in Ústí nad Labem on 29 November 1945 and spent his entire childhood close to the River Elbe, whether in Neštěmice or in Povrly, where his family came from. The first words he spoke were German – that is how he addressed his grandmother who raised him in his early years. She did because his mother fell sick with tuberculosis shortly after his birth. He secretly visited his mother in the sanatorium in Ústí-Ryjice from age five. The witness had an elder sister and their father worked at a sugar mill. Following his primary school, the witness got training in electronics, although he initially wanted to study at a military school in Martin. Following his military service, he joined Spolchemie in Ústí as a technician. He was diligent all his life and his sailing hobby got him where others could not get. In 1983, he signed on as a collaborator with the State Security, first as a confident and, four years later, as an agent with the cover name Tyrš. After that, he would often sail on observatory missions around the entire European continent via Hamburg. Not ashamed of his past, he perceives his stint with the StB as service for the people of Czechoslovakia. Following 1989, he was made to exit all his positions and even dismissed from work. He took out a loan and started a business with drink vending machines. He did water skiing and became a member of the yacht club in Ústí nad Labem. He took interest in the history and destinies of the deported Sudeten Germans. He operated several ferries on the Elbe. The witness was living in Ústí nad Labem in 2022. We were able to record his story thanks to the support from the city of Ústí nad Labem.