Lieutenant (ret.) Oldřich Vita

* 1926  

  • “I was drafted to Hitler’s army on January 26th, 1944. In cattle trucks they brought us home and within three weeks they loaded us into cattle tracks again and we were on our way to France. And nobody dared to say he was a Czech. This is nonsense. Everybody was afraid during the Hitler’s era. I went through an infantry training. We were children, sixteen or seventeen. But no of us was allowed to do anything substantial. Hitler was very cautious in this respect. It was just plain drudgery, exercise with a rifle, with a machine gun. To put it simply, they were making cannon fodder of us. What I remember most from the German army was hunger. The food supply was terrible. And the drill. Hitting your body against the ground for Hitler’s sake. It was terrible, everything, And we cold not speak among ourselves, if they had overheard us, it would have been very bad for us. There was no way to say – I’m a Czech, you are a Polish. Once you are a German, so you will speak only German. And if not, they would draw consequences from it. And these were not trifle – being sent to the front. Not even for the Germans were any allowances made. They were strict even with their own people.”

  • “They did not want me in the army, saying that I was still underage. So I made such a fuss about it, I would have fought with them there. They claimed hat they could not draft me, that my parents might have then demanded a compensation for me. And I argued back: ´Now, when I am able to fight for my own country, you are telling me I can’t?´ So I was running back and forth, wanting to fight with them, I pounded my fist on the table, then the soldiers pushed me out of the room, telling me to wait till they have discussed it. So they talked it over, and then let me have me way. Eventually they told me they would draft me, but that it would be on my own responsibility, in case they would have to pay damages for me if I died in combat. I was drafted n March 6th, 1943 and within two weeks I was on the front. They wanted to train me for a radio operator, but I refused. I told them that the beep, beep, beep, is a sound hens in the backyard make, and that I would not do it. But that they got trucks, and I wanted to be in the trucks division. I passed my driving license in a week and immediately went to the front. I served in the supply unit as a truck driver, at Dunkerque I was transporting ammunition, food supplies, and other military material. Driving always as far forward as possible. So I was never in combat, not in Hitler’s army nor in the Czechoslovak army.”

  • “When the invasion began, the Germans were fleeing and we had to go with them. We picked up bicycles and we were expected to ride away on bikes, to Germany presumably. Somewhere near Orleans we were encircle by the French and made to surrender our weapons. And as we marched, we got among a group of armed Germans again. Such a mess it was. The French simply were not much into fighting. The only thing they knew was just wine and ´Aleman finish - German end.´ We were lucky that those armed Germans did not punish us. We were still such kids, so they let us be. But further away the other Germans were disarmed as well. From then on, we already marched as captives. We could not even laugh out loud. Among the POWs there were still many of Hitler’s fanatics, they would be ready to stab us even after we were all captured. In England, we had a special prisoners´ camp, but separated from the Germans only by a fence. And the Germans would threaten us: ´Wait for the night, we will show you. You got German uniforms, so you are Germans, and now you are deserting us.”

  • We could not even object that we did not want to join the German Reich. There was no law and order. Whenever there was something they did not like, a transport to a concentration camp followed. Not going to school was also perceived as an undesirable form of protest.”

  • “I studied at five Czech, one Polish, and two Hitler’s schools. No vocational school could admit me, because my family did not have the Volksliste 3, so I was sent to the ironworks and wireworks in Bohumín. I worked in this factory as a fifteen year old boy till they sent us to a labour camp in Germany. It was called RAD (Reich’s labour duty). They transported us in cattle trucks, whether we liked it or not. They regarded us as Reich’s Germans. If someone raised an objection, he would be shot on the spot, or the whole family would be sent to a concentration camp. Refusal of a Volksliste did not occur often, in Silesia during the Hitler’s era nobody dared to resist. It was not like some Czechs and Polish think, that the Germans would take just anybody. For example they excluded those with lung complaints, alcoholics, and some who were considered disruptive elements. And after the war it was these people who were pointing it out in various ways and making problems, asserting that we had asked for the Volksliste by ourselves. In our district of Karviná, nobody wanted the Volksliste voluntarily. Moreover, there were no Germans living there.”

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    místo neuvedeno, 23.06.2004

    (audio)
    duration: 26:08
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

And nobody dared to claim to be a Czech This is nonsense During the Hitler´s era, everybody was afraid

Oldřich Vita was born May 11th, 1926 in Dětmarovice in the Karviná district. As a boy he witnessed the Polish and subsequently the German invasion into the Silesia region. He was sent to a labour camp in Germany for three months and then on January 26th, 1944 he was drafted to the wehrmacht infantry. On March 6th, 1945, while still a minor, he succeeded in joining the Czechoslovak army, getting his driver’s license done within one week and then serving as a truck driver with the supply unit at Dunkerque. Afterwards he served in the army as a cook till December 11th, 1946.