In memory of my mother

Tales of an occupied Czechoslovakia

Adolf Hitler at Prague Castle

Adolf Hitler at Prague Castle. Source.

Mother and father’s stories

Wars are really so bad and useless and I hate them. During the war my mum lived in Pilsen, a town in the West of the Czech Republic. There was a factory SKODA which produced machines, I think locomotives and lorries. Then the German army came and the factory was transferred into war industry and produced anti aeronautical missiles. My uncle had to work in the factory. He was forced by the Germans like many other Czech men. Once he told me that when nobody had been looking (there were guards everywhere) he put sand into the missile to spoil it.

My mum was a teacher. She had to teach German. If she had refused, she would have been sent to Germany. It was called total embattled. Her school was on the outskirts of the town where only poor people lived in bungalows with no cellars. They had no chance to survive the bomb attack. The worst attacks from Allied bombers, English and American, came at the end of winter in 1945. One night there were so many attacks that my mum’s family stayed in the cellar the whole night.

Jaraslava's class

Jaraslava’s class before bombing. Source.

The next morning when my mum came to school there were only five children from the thirty. Twenty-five children had been killed. My mum took the five kids out .They found some snow flakes and decorated empty desks. They put candles on the desks and went home. The school was closed for the rest of the war. I am crying even now while I am writing about this terrible story from the war. It is so touching and I remember my mum when she had told me it. I found some old pictures among my mum’s documents and here is a photo of her with the class before the air attack.

My mother was a great story teller and it is a pity that she isn’t alive. She would have deserved to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the end of the WWII. That is why I am writing her memories instead of her.

M26 Pershing Tank in Pilsen

M26 Pershing Tank in Pilsen. Source.

The war’s end

Then April 1945 came and people could smell the freedom in the air. First American tanks arrived in Pilsen square and Czech people ran to greet them. My mother was young, heartbroken from the loss of her school children and she was so happy to see the liberators. She wanted to remember that moment all her life.

She took her work book. It was the book all the people had to have. She opened the book and the American soldiers wrote their names and addresses there. Suddenly she heard a noise and the soldier who was just writing his name fell dead on the ground. He was killed by a German sniper.

My mum wanted to find his family but she couldn’t speak English and so it was not easy. I still have her book with the names and addresses of the American soldiers who liberated the west of our country. The soldier who was the last who signed the book was called Elmer D. Martin, I can also read the name Wallace Baumgardner from Astoria, Illinois and Edward Falishi from Wisconsin.

Wars are led by nations but ordinary people are those who suffer the most. And I can only wish to all of us to live our life in peace and freedom and that is why it is so important to write these memories as the memento and the warning.


This article is part of the Time Witnesses archive.

Jaraslava's preserved document

Photo of Jaraslava, story author Nada Kadlecova’s mother.

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