Evžen Basch

08.06.2013 | 00:00
Evžen Basch

Surviving three concentration camps

More memories were shared by JUDr. Evžen Basch, a prisoner from the Small Fortress in Terezín. He was born in Prague as the fi rst child of the mixed marriage of Viktor Basch from Polná near Havlíčkův Brod and Růžena Doudová from Hradec Králové on 2nd April 1925. His parents worked as clerks, both of them had studied at a business academy where they had met. The father worked in soap-works in Prague and that was why he bought a small soap-making factory in Roudnice nad Labem in 1932, where the family moved from Prague afterwards. In 1937, Evžen’s younger sister Ilona was born there.
Evžen still remembers his great parents today. He is grateful to them for a lot, especially for the fact that since his childhood, they had encouraged him to do music, sport in the Sokol Society and to gain self-knowledge with the scouts. In the academic year of 1935/1936, he started attending the fi fth class at the grammar school in Roudnice. This class was a kind of preparatory class from which he then went to the fi rst form (equivalent to the sixth class at elementary school). There, he was “discovered” by the music teacher Jaromír Klobouk who gave Evžen one of the leading parts in an opera for children called Ogaři (Lads) by a Czech composer Jaroslav Křička, which the grammar school students learned and rehearsed. The occupation of the Sudetenland and growing anti-Jewish mood made Evžen’s father worried. Therefore he got formally divorced in an eff ort to save the family’s property. After the confiscation of the factory by the Nazis, Evžen, his mother and sister stayed in the smaller part of the factory but the father felt it was better to move away because of the “Flag supporters” (members of a fascist movement in the then Czechoslovakia). He started commuting to work to Prague where, being a Jew, he was only allowed to do inferior work. At the end of 1942, he ended up in a transport to the ghetto in Terezín from where he was shortly after that transported to eastern Poland to the extermination camp in Treblinka where he died in the gas chamber.
It was 20th June 1942, the last class of the day and Evžen and his classmate Kubík were looking forward to an afternoon volleyball match. They did not know though that the Protectorate gendarmerie and the Gestapo members from Kladno had occupied the grammar school building in Roudnice. And then, the door opened and the school headmaster accompanied by two SS-men entered. The boys had to leave the classroom (while the girls stayed put) and had to go to the school yard. Then along with students from the higher forms they were put into cars and taken to the Small Fortress in Terezín.
They were forced to stand for hours in the scorching heat facing the wall and waiting for the interrogation which was carried out by a Czech-speaking interrogator Felkl from the Gestapo in Kladno. He kept asking what Evžen thought about the assassination of Heydrich and whether he knew oberlehrer Bauer. Evžen had no idea that a mere light-minded remark by a seventh- former Karel Dvořák was a suffi cient excuse for Germans, who were sorely irritated (after the assassination of Heydrich), for arresting the students from Roudnice. Dvořák had imprudently confi ded in the daughter of a Russian immigrant Rjazancev (a friend of the headmaster Bauer) about a planned students’ revenge on the headmaster. After the interrogation, he was placed in a mass cell no 7 and later in cell no 26 where he stayed until his release. About four days later, the fortress commander Heinrich Jöckel prepared sadistic “entertainment” for Evžen and his other schoolmates. The wardens formed a circle and inside of it, the students had to run around being beaten helter-skelter with all sorts of things such as sticks, belts and chains. At last, one of the wardens whistled to stop it; the suff ering of the prisoners ended and the boys full of bruises and cuts were taken to the joinery shop. Evžen recalls a few days he spent in the workshop where they could not keep up with making coffi ns for those who did not survive their detention in the ghetto or in the Small Fortress. They went to work by train through Litoměřice to Ústí nad Labem to tamp railway sleepers, which was a very tough job. Even today Evžen cannot forget returning from Ústí nad Labem. When they were coming back, the group of those who had survived working was followed by a group of surviving Jews and this bizarre procession was closed in by prisoners carrying those who had died of exhaustion whilst working or had been beaten to death.
However, Evžen did not stay in Terezín for long. Still, he was the last of the Roudnice grammar school students to leave Terezín on 6th December 1942 together with technical college students Pěnkava and Petr. Before going home, they had to report to the Gestapo in Kladno where they met Felkl again. He threatened Evžen with many things: “Remember, if the Gestapo gets hold of you once more, you won’t survive.” On the same day, they returned to Roudnice nad Labem where he found his seriously ill mother (his sister was staying with her grandmother in Hradec Králové). He called for an ambulance and his mother’s life was saved in hospital by the doctors. He had to sign up at the job centre within three days, obtained a work placement card for Meva factory in Roudnice nad Labem where his job was cutting fl anges with an oxyacetylene burner.
At the beginning of September 1944, he received a letter from the Gestapo, informing him that his work in Meva was over and he had to come immediately to Čakovice. At that moment, he remembered the words of the Gestapo man Felkl.
He found out that in Čakovice men with a similar mixed race background to his were concentrated. He met Jára Pospíšil there as well as other well-known fi gures. They were transported in cattle train carriages from Čakovice to Postoloprty near Louny where the Germans hastily set up a concentration camp for a few hundred prisoners, so called Jewish half-castes fi rst rate and so called “jüdisch versippt” (that is “Aryan” husbands of Jewish women) on the site of a former pheasant farm. Evžen was assigned to a labour group whose members had to get up at 3 a.m. to go to work to Horní Litvínov.
Here, they assisted pitiful Soviet prisoners of war with the disposal of unexploded bombs. They returned to the camp at eleven at night, went to bed half-dead and got up four hours later again and this was repeated over and over again. Not long before the liberation, Evžen had a stroke of luck when he was assigned to the camp kitchen as an assistant. He recalls that every day he had to take raw meat to the camp commander who would eat it uncooked. The day before the liberation of the camp, he set out in secret to Roudnice nad Labem but did not dare to stay the night at home. He stayed the night with the family of Zdeněk Petr’s wife (he was a composer and the author of Píseň pro Kristýnku – Song for Little Kristine, for instance). The following day, he returned to the camp wearing civilian clothes and with his ID card in his pocket. However, everything there was in anarchy and so Evžen set off home on foot. When he was approaching Louny he spotted Soviet tanks crossing a bridge over the Labe River. He met a schoolmate, Láďa Hejral, and stayed with him for the night. Láďa also accompanied him to the station the following day and from there, Evžen went to Roudnice nad Labem. He did not know that his schoolmates Fabián, Adamec, Dvořák, Ivo Karfík, Kratochvíl, Kukuk, Lácha, Švojgr a Sylva Rajtrová had not been as lucky as him. But he did return. He skipped the seventh form, fi nished the eighth form and passed his fi - nal exams still in 1945. He swore his academic oath at the Faculty of Law in Prague in June 1946. Evžen was supposed to take his third state exam and thus obtain his Masters degree on 3rd November 1948. Nevertheless, fate or the state authorities to be precise decided otherwise. In December that year, he was arrested by StB (the state secret police) because he was a member of a student anti-communist group “Šeřík” (Lilac) led by Boris Kovaříček. He had no idea that the group had been infi ltrated by an agent provocateur Josef Hruška. He spent almost four months at the Pankrác prison. He remembers his cellmate Petr Pujman, the son of Marie Pujmanová, who was sentenced to 15 years in prison but after his mother’s interceding he was absolved from the sentence. He also recalls executed university students Boris Kovaříček and Jan Vaclík. In 1949 Evžen was sentenced for high treason on the authority of the republic to a labour camp in the uranium mine in Jáchymov. Seriously ill, with no hope from the doctors, after the release from the Jáchymov hell at the end of 1951, he went to see his mother who was living in Strakonice at that time. Evžen had his military service before him in autumn 1952. Being a “con from Jáchymov”, he did not even dream of not ending up at the notorious “PTP” (Auxiliary Technical Battalion). But a miracle came. His friend Míla, who was a doctor in Strakonice, helped him and so thanks to him, Evžen got enlisted in the 1st Automobile Battalion in Prague. After his military service, he returned to Strakonice but shortly afterwards he moved to Litoměřice where a friend of his found him a fl at. He started working as a lawyer for the fi rm Restaurace a jídelny (Restaurants and Canteens). There, he met his future wife Květa, née Ficková and in that year 1955 their son Evžen was born. He defended his doctorate thesis while still working full-time and in 1964, his daughter Květa was born. In 1969 he was rehabilitated thanks to a defence lawyer Dagmar Burešová. Evžen has a grandson Jiří (born 1978), who lives and works in Luxembourg. The Baschs live in Litoměřice, are in good enough health for their age, and especially Evžen, considering he has been in three concentration camps.

Pro Památník Terezín Luděk Sládek 

Doslov na vysvětlenou

Josef Hruška se stal agentem-provokatérem, kterému se bohužel skutečně podařilo velmi brzy vzbudit důvěru. Jeho obětí se stal Karel Bacílek starší, jehož potkal v dubnu 1948 v pražské restauraci Václava Tichého v Benediktské ulici. Ten ho pozval k sobě do bytu a seznámil ho i se svým synem, studentem práv Karlem Bacílkem mladším. Tak se začala odvíjet tragédie, jejíž konec na sebe nedal dlouho čekat. Hruška oba Bacílky přesvědčil, že je odhodlán k odboji, a oni začali na jeho pokyn aktivně vyhledávat ilegální skupiny ve svém okolí a oslovovat své známé. Tak se na Hrušku napojil i student Právnické fakulty Boris Kovaříček se svou protikomunistickou skupinou „Šeřík“ a kromě něj i mnoho dalších osob, z nichž některé oslovil Josef Hruška sám. Tento muž se fakticky stal vedoucím nově vznikající podzemní organizace – ve skutečnosti volavčí sítě –, jež dostala název „Pravda zvítězí“. Vydával příkazy a pokyny, formuloval její program a stanovil její hlavní cíl – ozbrojený převrat, jím „naplánovaný“ na první výročí komunistického puče v únoru 1949 (všem zúčastněným mělo být podezřelé, že se vždy stavěl proti jejich vyzbrojování a poukazoval na to, že zbraně včas obstará sám). Kromě napojování existujících skupin se Josef Hruška opakovaně pokoušel proniknout i do blízkosti významných představitelů zahraniční emigrace, a to i pomocí rádiového vysílání, ale neuspěl. Naopak se mu podařil nečekaný úspěch, když se do bytu jednoho ze získaných odbojářů dostavil na Hruškovy urgence sám generál Karel Kutlvašr, na něhož měli komunisté již dlouho spadeno. Ten sice nic konkrétního nepřislíbil, jen si vyslechl Hruškův referát o chystané akci, ale i to stačilo. Nedlouho poté bezpečnostní orgány spustily stavidla zatýkání, při němž bylo „realizováno“ obrovské množství lidí, mezi nimi i sám Josef Hruška (18. 12. 1948). Ten se stal, poté co splnil svůj úkol, pro obranné zpravodajství jen přítěží. Ve vojenské věznici na Hradčanech byl podroben nelidským výslechům (plk. Mysík doufal, že je nepřežije) a donucen podepsat protokol, kde se přiznal, že hrál s 5. oddělením hlavního štábu dvojí hru. To znamenalo jeho konec. Státní bezpečnost ve spolupráci s vojenskými orgány celý případ náležitě připravila a předala soudu, který postupoval zcela v intencích politických instrukcí. Josef Hruška se ocitl v třináctičlenné skupině, která byla prefabrikována jako Štáb ilegální organizace Pravda zvítězí. Do jejího čela byl dosazen právě generál Kutlvašr, mezi dalšími souzenými nechyběl ani Karel Bacílek mladší či Boris Kovaříček. Státní soud za předsednictví plk. justiční služby Dr. Jana Metličky (prokuraturu zastupoval gen. justiční služby Jan Vaněk) začal případ projednávat bez přítomnosti veřejnosti ve dnech 12.–16. května 1949. Přestože se Josef Hruška pokoušel prokázat svou nevinu, mimo jiné žádal svědectví Richarda Mysíka (ten se k líčení nedostavil ani soudu neposkytl agenturní materiál), osud, který mu byl určen, neodvrátil. Rozsudek konstatoval spáchání zločinu velezrady (§ 1, odst. 2 zák. č. 231/4 Sb.) a vyzvědačství (§ 5 odst. 1, 2 zák. č. 231/48 Sb.) a znamenal, stejně jako u studentů Karla Bacílka mladšího a Borise Kovaříčka, hrdelní trest. Odvolání, které projednával Nejvyšší soud v Brně již 23. května 1949, představovalo jen pouhé administrativní zdržení na cestě k šibenici. V této chvíli se do záchrany Josefa Hrušky vložili i jeho blízcí. Manželka a děti se obrátily na poslední instanci, která mohla trest smrti změnit – na prezidenta republiky. Ve své žádosti o milost poukazovaly na Hruškův dělnický původ i na jeho těžký život v éře první republiky. Neopomněly zdůraznit uvědomělost celé rodiny – všechny Hruškovy děti (Jaroslav, Josef, Eduard, Emilie a Alois) byly členy KSČ, přičemž syn Jaroslav, toho času pplk. ČSLA, vstoupil do karlínské organizace strany již roku 1932. V žádosti nechyběla zmínka o Hruškově zranění, které utrpěl během květnového povstání, když se pokoušel odzbrojit německý vůz, ani informace o šestiletém věznění syna Jaroslava v koncentračním táboře Buchenwald. Nic z toho však Klementa Gottwalda neobměkčilo. Ráno 24. května 1949, v předvečer IX. sjezdu KSČ, byl Josef Hruška na dvoře pankrácké věznice oběšen, stejně jako jeho dvě mladé oběti. Ironií osudu je, že z těchto tří popravených byl rehabilitován jako první: rozhodnutím Městského soudu v Praze ze 4. dubna 1966.

Statement of study at university Class tableau, under the barbed wire are imprisoned students Study register of the Charles University (Prague) from 1945 Sentence on behalf of the republic Membership card of the Czech Union of Fighters for Freedom With wife, son and his family

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