Colonel (ret.) Jan Velík

* 1921  †︎ 2016

  • “It was all Soviet teachers, not a single one of the teachers was Czech. But we were fourteen boys there. We were kept busy until ten o’clock each day. It was extremely demanding, a hellishly tough training. We were completely exhausted in the evening when the training was over. Then we had to repeat again. They asked us how we would behave when they’d drop us on enemy territory. We were given about six or seven tasks and the first one was to find out where the Germans were, their position and industry in Czechoslovakia. The next thing they wanted us to find out was appropriate locations for the formation of partisan groups. Then, the last task was to find out how the Germans were treating the civilian population. We were also trained in the usage of explosives in case we’d need to blow up some objects.”

  • “We were digging trenches there and everything was getting ready for battle. That was at Kursk. The fighting began in July, 1943. The Soviet soldiers marched first and we went in the second row. The German onslaught was terrible, they were shooting everything they had – the guns, the cannons, the tanks were firing. It was a mêlée. But the Russians were at a disadvantage because the Germans had the Tiger tanks. The Tiger had thicker armor plating than the Russian tanks. The Russian plating was only six or eight centimeters and it was more easily pierced.”

  • “On October 1st, I was drafted to the 1st regiment in Trnava and later, we were trained as infantry troops. And after about two weeks we were sent to the Orenvás drilling grounds. Don’t you know them? [Yes, I do] You know it? [Yes, I know that place. There used to be a large air force shooting range, right?] There also were training grounds for the artillery and the infantry. After those fourteen days I told my friend Tonda Níčů: ‘Tonda, what do you think about running away from the Slovak army’? Just think about what I’m telling you. He agreed. That was just at the moment when they were dispatching a division to the Soviet Union via the Caucasus. I told him that if there’s going to be 5000 people they won’t even notice if two of them disappear.”

  • “All of a sudden, the maid showed up at six o’clock in the morning. As soon as she saw us, she started to scream and ran for the house owner. He came and asked who we were. We told him we were fugitives from Germany. Too. But somehow, he didn’t seem to understand. So we told him we were partisans from the Soviet Union. ‘We are envoys from the USSR’. He immediately hosted us at his home, gave us some new clothes and let us rest there for two days. We really had been dead tired. After two days, we set out again. I gave this farmer a five dollar bill with my signature as a souvenir.”

  • “Of course that I later couldn’t find a job anymore, so I had to work in agriculture and eventually I ended up working in a brick factory. In 1941 I was sent to forced labor in Germany. That was in Malchow-Mecklenburg between Berlin and Hamburg. You have no idea what it was like there. It’s hard to think back to those times because we really suffered there. The Germans treated us as if we were inferior beings. They called us dogs and things like that.”

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Svratka, 25.06.2012

    duration: 01:52:28
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
  • 2

    Svratka, 21.04.2015

    duration: 01:00:59
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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We are paratroopers, envoys of the Soviet Union

Jan Velík
Jan Velík
photo: archiv pamětníka

Jan Velík, a retired Colonel, was born on August 2, 1921, in Hodonín, where he attended elementary and grammar school. In 1941, he was forced to work in the German town of Malchow in Mecklenburg, from where he managed to run away and visit his mother in Slovakia. He was punished by being assigned to the Trnava garrison of the Slovak army and from there he marched to the Soviet Union. He deserted at the Caucasus and got to the Red army via the Crimean peninsula. He joined the Red army on 1 March, 1943, and participated in the tank battles at Kursk. On 9 January, 1944, he joined the newly created 1st Czechoslovak army in Usman. He was assigned to the 2nd paratrooper brigade and was trained in Jefremov and Proskurov. After completing his training, he became a member of the regiment of special operations (ZÚ regiment), took part in training for intelligence officers and was assigned to the Soviet STAS landing force. In February 1945, he was chosen for an airborne operation in Czechoslovakia, in the region of Devět skal. However, finally, he was dropped in Jindřichohradecko. After he arrived at the pre-agreed destination, he got in touch with the local partisan groups and he held out in this location until the end of the war. After the war, he stayed in the army but in 1949, he was dismissed and worked as a lathe operator in the ČSAD. He subsequently worked as a warehouse worker, an economist and a desk officer. He officially returned all of his Soviet war-time decorations in protest against the invasions of the Warsaw Pact Treaty armies of Czechoslovakia in 1968. Until his death on March, the 13th, 2016, he lived in Svratka.