Josef Serinek

Josef Serinek (1900 – 1974) was born in Bolevec in the Plzeň region. During the First World War, when only 14, he had managed to join the Green Cadre – a group of deserters who refused to fight for the Austro-Hungarian army and hid in the Šumava forest.

After the war he was amnestied, and grew up in the State Institute for Abandoned Youth in Košice. He trained as a gardener and later worked in agriculture on both Czech and German farms.

During the protectorate he worked as a coachman on a farm belonging to a German farmer in Rohy near Plzeň. On 3 August 1942 he and his family were arrested by protectorate police and deported to the concentration camp at Lety near Písek. He managed to escape, but his family remained in the camp. After the war he learned that his family had died in the Gypsy Camp at Auschwitz – Birkenau.

He was the only one of the group of escapees to survive. For a year he hid in the forests. In the Bohemian-Moravian Uplands he became a member of the resistance unit Council of Three. The unit consisted of members of the Czech Brethren church and a group of Soviet soldiers. Together they formed a 30-member partisan division called Čapajev.