Zdeněk Závěšický

* 1922  

  • “As the Ukrainian nationalists were operating there for over two years already, we were interested in terminating their activities once and for all. I think that Stalin’s pressure to deal with these people played a vital role in this as well. Our command ordered a large-scale sweep against these people and the idea was that SNB troops would proceed from Bohemia eastwards and simultaneously from Slovakia westwards. The nationalists would then be caught in these pincers and would be crushed. The order was to liquidate them. I was deployed in a section of the river Morava, in Kvasice, close to Kroměříž – it’s Zlínsko today. We were holding a closed line along the entire river Morava, guarding it so that none of the enemy fighters could possibly pass. I spent about six weeks in that place and nothing happened, we saw not one Ukrainian nationalists’ fighter. However, they were trying to cross the river more to the north, in the Beskydy foothills. So we were transferred to the Beskydy foothills and deployed in the section of Studénka and Butovice. That’s where we were getting ready for action. They equipped us with ammunition and so on. One day, the order came – “let’s go”. The operation should have gotten us in touch with the Slovak troops advancing westwards. We were supposed to march in the direction of Bílý Kříž and hotel Baron and to meet with the Slovak troops on the border. On our march we were sweeping the Beskydy region, every single forest, for Ukrainian nationalists’ guerillas. We proceeded in a dense formation, forming a closed line. Every single policeman could see the next one in the line. The operation lasted only about three or four days but we walked every square meter of the forests. We walked many kilometers every day and I remember the first big hill I walked up, it’s called Myslík. I didn’t know the Beskydy mountains at that time yet, so I don’t remember how all the other hills were called. When we arrived at Bílý Kříž, the final destination of our march, we found out that we were lucky, because we arrived there one day after the other units. The unit that was in charge of the section right next to ours paid dearly for its early arrival. What happened? Well, the Ukrainian nationalists’ guerillas occupied this hotel Baron. They had sentinels everywhere and tricked the SNB troops that arrived there first. They let them pass their outer defense lines, they must have been well hidden, and then they opened fire at them from all sides. It was a fierce fight as they were surrounded from all sides by the nationalists’ gangs. Many members of the SNB died there, in fact as many as seven policemen died.”

  • “When I had so many employees that they were enough even for foreign assembly operations I requested an increase of my salary. But I was prevented from entering a higher salary group by certain regulations. Therefore I was forced to complete my education in order to be eligible for higher salary groups. I needed a school-leaving exam from a school of engineering. So I attended this school and graduated from it. But before I graduated from the school of engineering, I attended VUML. I don’t remember anymore who recommended it to me but I was a party member and a leader of a certain collective at work – there were regulations saying that people in leading positions should have some kind of higher political education, so that’s why I studied at VUML. I mean I didn’t apply for that school myself but I didn’t mind studying there because I enjoyed education of whatever kind. I graduated from VUML and after my graduation the director of the school appointed me a lecturer of political economy. I was lecturing for two years – until I started to study that engineering school. I had an oral agreement with the director of VUML, that he’d release me for the duration of my studies at the engineering school, in the years 1967 – 1969. That means that the year 1968 caught me in the middle of my studies. The situation changed dramatically after 1968. Everyone who had committed an offence or didn’t like to see the occupation of Czechoslovakia by the Soviet army, was on a so-called “black list” and was persecuted in some way. The rule was that leading economic employees were sacked and the workers had milder persecutions. That’s when my trouble started. I had screenings all the time and eventually I was expelled from the party.”

  • “I had one experience. I and the father of the girl found out that there were 35 grenade-hits to the building. One of the reasons why this building had been so heavily under fire was that there was a German tank located in the entrance of the building. It was a “Königstiger” tank. The shelling, which was very fierce, lasted four days and the only luck was that they didn’t use incendiary shells, because the building might have caught fire and a lot of the houses in the village burned down like that. When the Germans found out that the tank is being targeted by the Soviet artillery, they moved it away. Thereafter we had relative peace in the cellar but harsh combat continued. On the last day of the fighting we heard intensive artillery fire, but from the opposite side. We didn’t know why. Why only learned why later on. At that time we didn’t know yet what “kaťuše” (a Soviet rocket launcher) were. We only found out after the liberation that it was the kaťuše.”

  • “On February 24 or 25, but I think it was 24, a state of emergency was declared and we were called to duty. We were all gathered in the police station in Opava, there were quite a lot of us. After a short initial speech of the police-station commander we were divided into two groups and all those policemen, who were members of the National-Socialist Party, were dismissed out of hand. I wasn’t a member of the National-Socialists so it wasn’t of my concern. So that’s how that February was proceeding. After they announced the February Communist coup, the guards were reinforced at all prominent buildings in the town like the radio station, the banks etc. I was one of the guards at the Svinov radio transmitter. All of the guards there were locals from Opava. We were standing there on guard for about five days and then we were replaced by another unit. I don’t know who these SNB members were. Maybe they were from Ostrava, maybe Ostrava had to supply its own men, I don’t know. From the Svinov radio transmitter I was transferred to the Roury works where I was on guard for two weeks. Later I was sent to Dolní Benešov to guard an airport. In the meantime I was offered to join the party by my superior so I joined the Communists.”

  • “There was a former German camp in Ostrava-Kunčice and this camp was transformed to a camp for people who committed petty economic crimes like a tailor, who maybe withheld some fabric etc. There were also small traders who had a negative attitude towards the new regime. These people were rather harmless. I was made camp commander what seemed interesting to me. Because there were eight camp guards and I was put in charge of them. But at that time I was just a young guy and I was made the commander of the camp. I think it must have been on the grounds of some psychological or some other tests I took at the Brno police academy. That must have been why the regional command appointed me as the commander. Afterwards they found out that the people held in that camp are pretty harmless. Therefore they gradually let them go.”

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    Krnov, 05.08.2008

    duration: 01:28:54
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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“Let those chieftains grab sabers and kill each other off”

zaves-uniforma.jpg (historic)
Zdeněk Závěšický

Zdeněk Závěšický was born on October 7, 1922, in Stěbořice, near Opava. His father was a blacksmith and his mother an agricultural worker. He attended the local elementary and municipal school. In 1937 he started his vocational training as a blacksmith and until 1945 he was occupied by his profession. In April 1945, he was cut off in the village of Kraváře for a couple of days by the advance of the Red Army. The village was liberated on April 20, 1945, and Mr. Závěšický then joined the national guard, whose duty it was to protect the property and safety of the village inhabitants. He became a member of the National Security Corps (SNB). In October 1945, he was assigned to a police station in Horní Těrlicko. In 1946, he attended the police academy. He was shortly with the police in Brno and then he requested a transfer and was placed in Opava. In August 1947, he participated in the operations of the SNB against groups of Ukrainian nationalists, albeit not in direct combat. In February 1948, he was still at the police station in Opava.  As a policeman, he had to hand in an application for the Communist party. In the fifties, he was the commander of a police station in Bílovec but he left the police in 1953. He went to the Strojosvit factory, where he first worked as a locksmith and then as an instructor for locksmith apprentices. He started to study an engineering school and in order to be eligible for becoming the supreme head-man, he started to study the VUML (The Evening School of Marxism-Leninism). He was dismissed from the party in the post-68 period, the so-called “Normalization”. However, this did not infringe on his professional career.