Once again we are back in the pages of the 1951 edition of the wonderful annual Czech-American journal, Amerikán Národní Kalendář!
Today we complete the story of Jan Mach, the Czech who had returned to Bohemia to visit from the United States, was pressed into military service, and taken prisoner while fighting for the Austro-Hungarian forces on the front lines against Russia.
Enjoy this installment as we learn the fate of Jan Mach!
Amerikán Národní Kalendář
Year: 1951, Volume: LXXIII, Pages: 117-144
“Old Settlers’ Memories”
Translated from the original Czech by Dr. Mila Saskova-Pierce and Layne Pierce
©Onward To Our Past®
“Experiences from the War in 1914. – In Captivity. –The Happy Return”
Reported by Jan Mach, founder of the firm Mach & Son, Importers.
“The time was passing merrily. One day we visited other captives at the station who told us that a Czechoslovak Organization is being formed and Ira and I joined it immediately. I then sold my barbershop to a Russian who is certainly having good business there.
We wanted to join the Legion; however, on our way to Siberia we were told that we cannot go on in Tsaritsyn that the Legion had gotten into a fight with the Bolsheviks and that is what saved our lives and the lives of others. We stayed in the town several days, and we were thinking how to get onto a ship sailing the Volga River to Kamyshin, which we succeeded in doing. The journey lasted 24 hours. From there we wanted to get onto a train and continue. Ira got the tickets for us, however, the train was so full that we had to stand the whole journey and then in addition it was attacked on the way and whatever anyone had was stolen away. We saw a lot of misery. We were pushed everywhere, and the person, and only the person who did not submit got onto the train and continued. Ira, after a short time, learned how to best get onto the train through the window and so he was the first who pushed himself through the window in, and then he pulled me easily inside.
Our goal was Kharkov, Kiev, or Lvov. –The newspapers at that time were writing that the American Army was everywhere victorious, that the Germans are on the run, and that gave us strength and job and we hoped that one day we would find ourselves in our beloved country. After great difficulties we got into the last Russian station which was, however, occupied by Bolsheviks. Everybody was then searched. Anything that had any value was taken away from them. Even Ira and I came in front of a Bolshevik with whom we underwent interrogation – Where we are going, why we are going there, to which town we are going etc. I told him that we are going to Galicia. The search and the questions took very long and when the Bolshevik also took in addition the 18 Rubles that I had just in my pocket, and also the things in our bag he let us go.
It was a merry walk, and we wished only to catch the train from which we could get home. In Kharkov the whole situation was already better. We stayed there three days and we continued on into Kiev. There it was a real uprising. Among Germans there was depression, they had probably learned that on all the fronts it looked bad for them. We were not recognized as soldiers, and so without any difficulties we got onto the train to Lvov, Krakow through Moravia and through Kolín to Prague. There was already disorder there. The newspapers were mainly filled with news about the defeat of the Germans, about the victory of our Legions, etc. We wanted to report to the military headquarters in České Budějovice, however, the yearning to see our beloved whom we had not seen for several years was stronger. The next day, in the morning, we left for our homes.”
We have now completed our exclusive translation of the story of this Czech and his experiences as a soldier and prisoner of war during World War I, while he was captured and sent to Russia. Now be sure to continue to follow Onward To Our Past as we bring you more exclusive translations tomorrow!
Onward To Our Past®