On September 11 (!) 1951, a Czechoslovak train engineer with several other accomplices managed to “kidnap” his whole train to West Germany – and freedom. The three chief co-conspirators were Jaroslav Konvalinka, the engineer, Jaroslav Švec, a dentist from Karlovy Vary and Karel Truksa, the Cheb stationmaster who had already served five months in a (slave) labor camp for having given refuge to two men who were wanted by the Czechoslovak secret police (StB).
The escape was carefully choreographed. The train had started in Prague en route to the border town of Aš. On the way, members of the three co-conspirators’ families gradually got on the train. Dr. Švec, who was the last to get on, let engineer Konvalinka know that the switch beyond the Aš train station had been thrown and the way to West Germany was clear.
A bit later, Konvalinka disconnected the emergency brake system and stuck a pistol in his fireman’s belly. Several secret policemen on the train were similarly neutralized. The train sped through the Aš train station and crashed through the border gates at seventy kilometers per hour.
Some info about the fates of those on the train…
Of the 110 people on the train, 34 had decided to stay in the West. Those who returned were mainly gymnasium students from Cheb and patients from the nearby spa Františkovy Lázně. Unfortunately, despite their show of “loyalty,” all underwent serious interrogation and, per the Czech amateur historian Ladislav Nykl, the “dust of suspicion settled on them forever.” As a result, many endured perennial problems with education and employment, they were watched by the StB and their neighbors; and as for the students, their classmates laughed at them for having returned.
And those who chose freedom? Socialist propaganda simply called them terrorists. (nota bene, Janet Gestapolitano!) Eleven of these “terrorists” got political asylum in Canada. Several young men eventually joined the French Foreign Legion. Engineer Konvalinka and stationmaster Truksa settled in the United States and went to work for the toy train maker Lionel.
The unfortunate consequence of this spectacular escape was that it spurred the Czechoslovak government to beef up security along the borders, to protect its citizens from such temptation. Thus was the construction of the Iron Curtain given significant impetus, and other escapes (including ours) became significantly more difficult.
A few points.
- Even in 1951, just three years after the Communist putsch, everyone already knew exactly what socialism was about, and loathing of the regime was universal. People did what they had to do to survive, and many took their lives in their own hands – and lost them – while seeking freedom. Fortunately, in those days, they had a place to go, namely here, America. As for us, if we let the Obama régime community-organize us the way Czechoslovakia got community-organized after 1948, we will have nowhere to go.
- It is good for people to have weapons, otherwise they will have no way to defend themselves against real terrorists, including their own (socialist) governments. In Czechoslovakia, the few weapons in people’s possession were rapidly rounded up, making self-defense against a terrorist (socialist) government practically impossible.
- Efficient and wholesale penetration of society by the StB and its informers soon made it all but impossible to put together even such a comparatively simple conspiracy. This, without the incredible technologies that we have at our disposal today. That’s why such a vast and secretive bureaucracy like our Department of Motherland Security (DeMoS), which has practically no adult oversight and which commands vast resources guaranteed by a gangster government, is such a danger to liberty here and everywhere.
These, in my view, are good things to contemplate as we approach the next election.