Lieutenant Colonel (ret.) Antonín Vaněk
* 1922 †︎ 2012
"When we were passing through Moravia, we were very warmly received. The Moravians gave us the warmest welcome of all nations. Even Bohemia wasn't as cordial as the Moravians. There were girls greeting us and bringing cakes and coffee. Even though we didn't have much time since we were marching, they tried to pass us at least a bit of the cake and a few sips of coffee. Then we had to march on to Prague."
"We weren't particularly happy about the advent of the German army but on the other hand, it was a great relief to get rid of that terrible dictatorship that had been installed there under Soviet rule. My mom was so relieved that we wouldn't be deported to Siberia which was a real threat under the Soviets. We immediately began to farm again. Our resistance organization Blaník had a contact at the district – Mr. Kohl – who worked there and informed us about any planned controls so we could make sure that everything would be hidden. There was no traitor in the organization and we had our people in almost every village. I don't exactly remember how many villages were involved but I know that we had 326 members who worked for the organization."
"You can read in the book about the UPA (Ukrainian insurgent army) that the Ukrainians were eradicating the Poles on a mass scale in the area of Lviv and Galicia. They were murdering them in large numbers. The Poles and the Ukrainians were fighting it out there and that fighting really took on monstrous proportions. It's true that the Ukrainians also came to our villages and they tried to impose their rule on us as well. But they didn't succeed in this because we drove them out. They lost the fight for our village and had to flee from battle. They ran away through the fields and left five horses and carts there. They had to give in because we were ready to fight them and we were well prepared for the fight. We had guns and we smashed them, even though they had their sentinels. And since then, since our victory, they left us alone. It wasn't the regular UPA army. They had numerous quarrels among themselves as well and they killed a lot of their own people too. They were the ones who disagreed with them. I know this exactly since those Ukrainians who served or worked with us were later slaughtered by the nationalists because they were accused of being too much infused with the Czechoslovak spirit. They only left us alone because we clearly declared that we'd go back to Czechoslovakia with the Czechoslovak army corps. They knew that we wouldn't stay there. We left everything we had there behind – all our farmsteads. We even had the value of the farmsteads assessed but we haven't seen a penny being paid for it."
"We were trained in Rovno, the training took over a month, almost two months actually. It was tough, from morning to the evening. We were very well trained and prepared for the fighting. As sappers, we were trained with handling explosives and it was a very dangerous occupation. The artillery crew members were trained in the operation of the cannons. They were put into action at Torčín where the front lines had stalled. They taught them how to shell the enemy lines. Then we marched to Luck and from there to Lviv. Then the Slovak national uprising came and we went to Dukla unprepared. On the first day of battle, 600 of our people died. Some say that they didn't know how to fight but that's not true, we were very well trained, brave and prepared for battle, but at Dukla, they led us straight to a slaughter house. It's hard to fight when you have Germans ahead of you that you didn't know they were there."
"The Ukrainian nationalists (supporters of Stepjan Bandera, so-called 'Banderovci' – note by the translator) violated the border of our village – they wanted to make an intrusion into our village. Therefore we fought back in a rather violent way (we set one of the houses on fire). After the shootout that followed, the Ukrainians left the village. There was another incident at the Hulčín chateau, where the Ukrainians wanted to rob somebody. At Hulčín, it was our second group that intervened. The Blaník resistance organization counted five groups in total – one was in Adamov, the second at the chateau, the third in Český Háj, one at the place of the Hovorkova family and one with the Loskota or the Cilus family. During the second operation, one Ukrainian got killed and another Ukrainian then took him away on a cart. We must have wounded or killed him at Hulčín as there was blood on the wall. It wasn't quite easy to get the weapons we needed but in the end we managed to get decently armed – every member of our organization had a machine gun and a number of various grenades."
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Dukla was unprepared. If you’re taken to a slaughterhouse, you’re defenseless
Antontín Vaněk was born on the 15.7.1922 in Česká Huleč in Volhynia, where he subsequently witnessed the arrival of the Soviet army and later of the German army. He joined the illegal resistance organization Blaník, where he took part in a number of smaller anti-German operations and resistance fights against the Ukrainian nationalists. He signed up for the Czechoslovak army corps and was trained as a sapper. He fought in the battles at Torčín, Carpathia-Dukla operation, in the Slovak national uprising and the liberation of Bohemia and Moravia. After 1948, he was persecuted by the Communists and conditionally sentenced to two years in prison. He had a number of various jobs, today he lives in Žatec. He died in 2012.