Josef Zelený

* 1921  †︎ 2013

  • “We came to Vsetín on May 4th and we were caught by the Prague Uprising there which we bore with great difficulties. Because Prague was calling for help and we had men, weapons, we had everything and we couldn't help. At that time we were about fifty thousand soldiers in our Army-corps.”

  • “We set off. We were nearly 600 meters far from the battery, perhaps more, and all of a sudden machine gun firing from two sides. There was a touch of snow around so we were with our noses in the ground. When the bullets start whirling the sand, you are scared then. You reflect on your whole life, even a young life.”

  • “All the Jewish inhabitants of the little town Hošča, which was about two kilometers far away from us, were killed basically in one day. There were common graves dug up there and the inhabitants were slaughtered there. The Germans behaved in a really bad way.”

  • “A German sniper turned up in front of our look-out one day. I was sitting and overlooking the whole area of our watching zone through the binoculars. And at one moment a bullet came through the roof trap. It flew past my ear and pierced the beam behind me. I instinctively lowered the binoculars, put my head between my knees and another bullet banged speedily over my head.”

  • “I was not interned, we were at home but it was basically a concentration camp. You couldn't compare it with the conditions in Czechoslovakia. The Germans basically regarded every human enemy. They behaved accordingly. When they came to you they were the masters, we were the rankers. We had a gaggle of geese there so they caught them all up. Eventually they went to the stables and took two horses from us... You were not allowed even to wink.”

  • Full recordings
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    Byt Josefa Zeleného, 12.09.2003

    duration: 01:09:39
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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Everyone is fearful and if you say you are a hero and that you are not scared, then it is not true

photo: Soukromý archiv Josefa Zeleného

Lieutenant colonel in retirement Josef Zelený was born in a farm family of Volynia Czechs in Poland on March 1st, 1921. After the outbreak of WWII, he took part in the guerrilla resistance movement. He joined the Czechoslovak Army in 1944. Having completed his training, he served with Air Defence first. Later on, he became an officer in Artillery with which he took part in the Carpathian-Dukla operation and the Battle of Jaslo. He was injured with phosphorous splinters there. During May 1945, he was with his fellow troopers in the area of South Moravia. He settled down in Czechoslovakia after the War. Here, he joined the Army where he remained until his retirement. Josef Zelený passed away on October, the 4th, 2013.