Walter Zimmermann

* 1923

  • “I think it is exaggerated. I have never been interrogated, I didn’t have to report to anybody, nor was I asked to inform somebody about whom I had spoken to or who had spoken to me. They trusted me. I have never been questioned by our authorities.” – “But there are records that StB had contacted you.” – “One time I felt there was some distrust, carefulness on their part. It happened once. Otherwise I never experienced any problems. I like to remember that time, I was very happy. When I was abroad or here at home as well, I was lucky that it turned out so well for me; I had the advantage of knowing several languages: English, French and German. I had no problems.”

  • “They never questioned me. I enjoyed their trust, I didn’t abuse my travelling privileges and nobody asked me to do it. I avoided these problems. The cooperation worked well. (...) I was lucky.” – “But I have found your name in the list of people who had collaborated with StB.” – “You did? Me as a collaborator? (...) I had their trust; I resisted their invitations to work for the other party or for the authorities at home. Nobody wanted me to become an agent. Nor our people, not anybody from abroad. I was lucky in this way. My conscience is clear.” – “I am surprised that you didn’t know your name was listed among those who cooperated.” – “No, I didn’t know about it.”

  • “My father was a communist, an official and founder of the party. For this reason he had problems with the Nazis, they wanted to destroy him, so in 1938, we had to escape. A lady who worked at the British embassy helped us, I don’t remember her name anymore. It was a long time ago. We became immigrants in England. (...) She helped to place us in a center for refugees, at first in Leeds and then in Skipton in Yorkshire.”

  • “I learned Czech properly only in England, in the army. I joined the army in 1941 and served there until 1946. I was dismissed in 1946. It was a log time ago, time flies so fast. I don’t have any negative memories, I was lucky, we were doing well there. Before I joined the army I had worked in Manchester in a textile factory, in a leather-making workshop. In December 1941 I joined the army. There was a call to join, but I joined voluntarily. I was dismissed with a corporal’s rank.”

  • “I was lucky on the front in Dunkirk. Some Frenchman has saved my life. I was walking there and he shouted at me: ´Attention, ici, les mines.´ Watch out, there are mines there. If he hadn’t shouted, I would have stepped on it. (...) The Germans were shooting at the bunker about five minutes after I had left it. If I had stayed in there five minutes longer, I wouldn't be here. My wife then went there with me and I showed her the place.”

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Dobříš, 04.04.2004

    duration: 43:30
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
  • 2

    Dobříš, 16.11.2007

    duration: 01:16:54
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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I played for President Beneš

Walter Zimmermann in 1945
Walter Zimmermann in 1945
photo: archív pamětníka

  Walter Zimmermann, a Sudeten German, was born in 1923 near Jáchymov. His father was a miner, staunch antifascist and a long time official of the district committee of the prewar Communist Party of Czechoslovakia. For this reason the family had to flee Jáchymov in 1938. They lived in Kladno for a short time, and later left for Britain. From 1939 they lived in a refugee camp near Leeds, England. On December 5, 1941 Walter Zimmermann joined the Czechoslovak foreign units. After the war he worked in Abertamy as a technician in a glove-making company. Later he became a director of this factory. From 1962, he worked as a deputy of the head director of the glove-making company in Dobříš. In this position, he was in charge of exports and was able to make use of his language skills. In the 1980s, he worked as a UN expert in the development of a program in Pakistan focusing on the glove-making and leather-making industries. He is listed in the name lists of collaborators with the communist Secret Police, while he himself denies any cooperation with the security forces. He lives in Dobříš.