Josef Načeradský

01.10.2013 | 00:00
Josef Načeradský

Modesty, determination, vitality
We were honoured to interview a man who reached an imposing hundred years of age in 2013. Josef Načeradský was born at 87 Trhový Štěpánov on 22rd March 1913, into the farming family of Josef Načeradský and Anna, née Uhlířová. As the eldest child, he worked on the farm from his early childhood where he did all the jobs including the hardest ones.

Josef had three siblings, a brother František who was four years younger, a sister Božena and a brother Jaromír (born 1925) who was twelve years younger. Between 1928–1932, he went to the Institute for Teachers and then he worked as a teacher at elementary schools in Šlapánov near Zvěstov for two years and in Ouběnice near Bystřice for a year. In 1935 he started his military service and as he had a high school qualifi cation, he was posted to the 48th Regiment in Benešov from where he was sent to School for Reserve Offi cers for eleven months. When he fi nished offi cer school, just before Christmas 1936, he came back to his regiment which had moved to Jaroměř. On 15th December 1936, the Regimental Commander Major Český tasked him with drawing up the mobilisation plans and arranged that Josef took over the regiment’s technical company in the rank of Second Lieutenant. After fi ve months, he was transferred to the intelligence department of the Army Headquarters where he stayed until the end of his military service in September 1937.
Then he got a job as a teacher again, this time in Jankov near Votice where he passed other qualifi cations for teachers of secondary schools. From January 1938 he taught at the secondary school in Sedlec at Wilson’s railway, which is Sedlec – Prčice today. At that time, his parents moved to Vlašim where Josef visited them. In 1938 he got married to Růžena Veselková from nearby Štěpánovská Lhota and in 1939, their son Jiří was born, who later went to Painting Academy and now lives in Prague.
The occupation and Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia came, and on one of his journeys to visit his parents, he met his former commander Český at the station in Benešov who, after demobilisation, worked as a clerk in Sedlčany. He proposed that Josef should join the resistance movement in the organization Defending the Nation. In 1940 Josef and his family moved to Vlašim to his parents and he handed over the resistance group he had set up in Sedlec to a teacher, reserve offi cer Chlístovský who was later replaced by another offi cer, Mixa.
First, Josef worked as a trainer and educator in Sokol in Vlašim but the Nazis banned Sokol soon after. Then he was called upon to join the local group Defending the Nation led by a builder Petr Rajman. This group had connections with London and among one of their achievements was that they succeeded in getting two allied pilots, who had been shot down, across the border. After Rajman’s arrest, Josef took over the group. The resistance members’ task was to watch movements of German troops and Gestapo in the local area. One day, a group member reported to him that he had had a visit from Gestapo and they went to Louňovice where two other group members were living – a school head master Vencour and a teacher Bohuslav Jirout. Josef got on his bike and went to see for himself what was going on. At the school in Louňovice, the headmaster’s wife told him that her husband had been arrested and that the Gestapo was looking for teacher Jirout as well. Josef had a deal with Jirout that in case they were betrayed they would meet at a certain place near Blaník and would cross over to Vysočina where Jirout’s brother worked in the forest.
It was February 1945 and Josef was waiting in the freezing cold until late night but Jirout never came. He therefore returned to Vlašim but did not go home. He went to see his colleague Luisa and sent her to his father to fetch everything he had prepared for this situation, to the Sokol gym. Then on that February night, he set out on a ten-hour journey to a chosen place in the wood where he camped. From there, for over a week he walked 14 km every day to the small village of Pavlovice where he met his father who brought him food and news. Nothing was happening though; the Gestapo was not looking for Josef. The reason why they were not looking for him was that the arrested group members did not betray him in the initial interrogations. But after about a week, one of them named all the members within the group including Josef after a particularly brutal interrogation. But Josef did not know that and came back home where he was arrested by the Gestapo around two o’clock in the afternoon. When they were taking him away, his son ran towards him from a nearby playground and asked him: “Where are they taking you, dad?” Josef calmed him down that he would be back soon. But that was a white lie.
He was taken to Benešov by the Gestapo to be interrogated, as he puts it, manhandled for about 15 minutes and then was taken to cell no 14. Two days later, Josef underwent a five-hour interrogation by three Gestapo members, which ended in him having to be taken to the cell by his prison mates. Afterwards, he and some other prisoners, coded XYZ, were sent for extermination to the Small Fortress in Terezín. The end of the war was nearing and the escort’s indifference enabled him at the station in Benešov to warn Mixa, the group’s leader in Sedlec, in writing: “Milan watch out, they are after you”. Then, a train took them via Prague to Bohušovice from where they walked to the Small Fortress in Terezín. They stayed in a transport cell for the night and the following day, all of them were split up into diff erent cells. Shortly after that, he was put in cell 44 with nearly 400 prisoners who, if they wanted to sleep had to lie on their side otherwise they would not have squeezed in. Josef was “lucky” when the prisoner who was sleeping under the table died. But it was not all that great for him. Everything falling off the sitting prisoners including thousands of head lice and bedbugs ended up under the table. This went on until 20th April 1945 when they were allowed to make bunk beds which meant some relief, as Josef adds. He was not allowed to go to work as he was one of the prisoners coded XYZ – KA, and that’s why he was given less food. He remembers when a few prisoners escaped from the Small Fortress but they were caught and executed in front of everybody’s eyes. He remembers that some prisoners with lesser sentences were supposed to be released. Even today, he can see their faces full of expectations; nevertheless they ended up at the execution place in Terezín. He also witnessed the last execution in the Small Fortress on 3rd May 1945 and confusion over the names of Šiška and Žižka meant death for one extra prisoner. Průša, the warden of the cell told them on the fi fth of May: “It’s your turn tomorrow”. But the following day he came running and shouted: “They’re packing up, they’re packing up” and in the afternoon he brought the best news ever: “They’ve gone”.
Josef was free to go on the one hand but he couldn’t go home on the other. The doctor diagnosed him with typhus. But nothing lasts forever and after some time he could also go so he used a lorry that had been sent to Terezín from Český Brod for the prisoners. He stayed the night in Brod, had something to eat and the following day went by car to Vlašim. They were stopped by a Red Army offi cer on the way who confi scated their car and so they continued on foot to Vlašim. At home, he had a bath, packed up his Terezín rags and stepped towards his new life.


For Památník Terezín Luděk Sládek

Josef's parents Record of Gestapo in Benešov on the resistence movement
April 26, 1945 Transfer document to Terezín – liquidation (xyz) Small Fortress Terezín Identifi cation card for the prisoner - Small Fortress Terezín A cell of the 4th courtyard of the Small Fortress Terezín Obrázek č.8

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