Alois Vocásek

* 1896  †︎ 2003

  • “It was simple. They just learnt those Reihe, Truppe Reihe and that was it. And shooting. If somebody was deliberately shooting away from the target, he was beaten by a stick on his ass and told: ´You did it on purpose.´ Well, I did shoot at the targets, I didn’t make it easier for myself. Anyway, after six weeks all of us marched to the front. We got new clothes, they were already being made from nettles at that time, and off we went to the front.”

  • “When I came there, there was already a poster how the Czechoslovak Kingdom would look like and the portrait of tsar Nikolai Nikolayevich as the ruler. Not a single word about Masaryk. When I read it, I thought: ´As a Sokol member, I have to go for it.´ But I didn’t say anything so that they would leave me alone. I gave them my hat so that they would stitch a little ribbon there, and since that time I have been a legionnaire.”

  • “When you build trenches, there are separated by a kind of an arch, which is called a traverse and which is there so that if the enemy entered the trench, he would not be able to shoot at all the soldiers in there. The Russians had learnt this from the Japanese, and the Russians then taught this to the central powers. I was in this type of trench and of course, I was shooting there. A grenade was thrown in there and everything collapsed, and I remained buried there and my left leg was sticking out. As they were shooting, they shot through my leg. Cossacks walked by and they saw that I was bleeding, and one of them says: ´Hey, this guy is alive, he is bleeding.´ They dug me out and carried me to a field hospital. They evacuated the place completely, because the whole front was retreating and I woke up five or seven days later in a hospital in Kiev. My leg was fixated and I was all covered with bandages.”

  • “I have been searching for God all my life. And only when I was 78 years old, I met a pastor from the Seventh Day Adventists and he explained to me the correct relation between man and God and God and man. Thanks to him I began believing that God really is the merciful father, and not some strict old man, who would only watch you sinning and then slam you immediately.”

  • “We came to Austrian or German trenches and we were lying there the whole day. Can you imagine what it is like if you are not allowed to move at all? If you had raised your head, they would have been able to see you and start shooting. When the evening came and they went out to their positions, they were sure that there was nobody in there, and we let them pass and we took them from the back. But no shooting. Because if you started shooting, that would be the end.”

  • “When Beneš left and I was in the committee of the legionnaires, we were searching for a direction. They established a political party. I said: ´I will not join this party, no way.´ Vlajka used to be a university club and then they expanded it to a political party and began persuading everybody to join them. There was the head dean Havelka in Pilsen. He was an old politician and he was the chairman of Vlajka. Meetings were held in the deanery and I was invited as well, so I signed it and accepted. And for this I was then… Beneš issued the decrees in Košice that whoever had joined Vlajka five years ago should be imprisoned, which meant that I was punished for something that I had done five years ago. If he had banned it five years ago, I would not have joined Vlajka.”

  • “He came there and said to Medek: ´What would have you done in Siberia if you had taken me a prisoner?´ That was because Hašek had been fighting against us there. Medek replied to him: ´You know, Jarda, we would have talked throughout the night, enjoyed good food, and in the morning I would have had you shot.´ Hašek replied: ´And do you know what I would have done to you? The same as you say. We would have enjoyed the whole night, and in the morning I would have kicked your ass and told you: Go wherever you want.´ Meaning that he would not have taken revenge on him.”

  • “We were going there as spies and we were ordered to bring in a ´language.´ That meant to capture a prisoner alive and bring him there. Russian generals thought we were gods or what not. He would come and say: ´Hey, tomorrow, you bring me a German language.´ He wanted him. We would spent the day lying somewhere, pressed to the ground, because if I had raised my body a little bit, they would have seen me between these fronts, and I had to observe where they were placing things or where they were going. They had a trench in front of their line and they had a wire there. They would grab the wire and walk while holding onto it. I discovered that they had it there so that they would not get lost. What we did was that we led the wire here, and built a new small trench for them here, and thirty legionnaires were in it waiting for them. When the night came, the enemy suddenly came there and instead of there – he walked to us. They jumped at him immediately. You are captured. They would throw him to the back. ´Captured, captured!´ We got hold of about twenty-five of them at once. Well, there were various ways of waging war.”

  • “We came to the Russian front and there were so-called – ´shparish.´ (unintelligible, ed.’s note) It’s like the stand which you use when you cut wooden logs, but it is five metres long and it is wrapped in wires. They were placing these things in front of the lines so that soldiers could not pass over. We put it aside and we walked to the trench. There was one Russian soldier behind a machine gun. He raised his hands and we jumped in there and we had to convince him that he was not being captured, but that instead it was us who wanted to get captured by them.”

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Praha, 01.12.2001

    (audio)
    duration: 01:28:44
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
  • 2

    Lipnice nad Sázavou, 29.04.2003

    (audio)
    duration: 53:56
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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There were various ways of waging war

Alois Vocásek in 2002
Alois Vocásek in 2002
photo: Martina Mašková

  Alois Vocásek was born April 13, 1896 in Pečky in central Bohemia. Later he was growing up in Chrást near Pilsen, where his family moved in search of work. His father was a founder and Alois learnt the metal casting trade as well, but later he also studied at a state industrial school. He did not complete his studies, however, because in 1915 he was drafted in the 7th defence infantry regiment of the Austrian-Hungarian army. He was trained in Rumburk and he and his unit were then sent to Carpathian Ruthenia. After the launch of Brusilov offensive in Ukraine he defected to the Russians. While in the prisoners’ camp in Dárnice, he joined the Czechoslovak legions which were being formed at that time. As an espionage soldier, he experienced his first combat situation at the river Stochod, and later he fought at Zborov and Tarnopol, where he was seriously wounded. He had not even fully recovered from his injury when he returned to the front and continued with the legions to Chelyabinsk and from there further to the Siberia. He returned to his homeland in 1920. He married and lived in Chrást, where he was working for the state railways company until the outbreak of World War II. At that time, he supported fascist organizations and he became a member of the nationalist - and later collaborationist - organization Vlajka. He continued working for the railways during the war. After the end of war he was charged with collaboration with the Nazis and an extraordinary people’s court sentenced him to life imprisonment, but he was released in amnesty in 1954. After the fall of communism in 1989 he strove to clear his name and requested the courts of all levels to reinvestigate his trial. He claimed that he had been sentenced unjustly. The courts however turned down his petition. He died in 2003 at the age of 107 years.