Frank Schultz (born František Šulc), 1930
Frank Schultz was born in Maňovice, southwestern Bohemia, in 1930. One of five sons, Frank grew up on a farm run by his father, Vojtěch, and mother, Marie. He attended elementary school in nearby Mileč and went to high school in the larger town of Nepomuk. Frank says that his education during WWII was ‘poor,’ as the German-centered curriculum was not comprehensive. He spent much of his time helping on the farm. After completing high school in 1944, Frank became an apprentice for his uncle who was a cabinet maker. He traveled by train to Plzeň daily, and recalls his trip being interrupted in the waning days of the War due to bombings of the city. After WWII, Frank became involved in Boy Scouts, which had been banned by the Nazi authorities. He spent a few summers at a scout camp in Šumava as an assistant leader. Frank says that when the Communists came to power in 1948, the Boy Scouts were going to be absorbed by the Československý svaz mládeže (ČSM), a communist youth organization. He says that his opposition to this move branded him an ‘unreliable person’ and, fearing arrest, he made plans to leave the country. While at scout camp in July 1948, Frank crossed the border into Germany.
Frank spent two and a half years in refugee camps in Germany while waiting for a visa to the United States. The majority of that time was spent in Schwäbisch Gmünd, where he established a Boy Scout troop, and in Ludwigsburg. Frank says that he was not given refugee status straight away because he lacked the proper documentation, and that his visa was delayed because of this. In March 1950, Frank received refugee status and a sponsor, and began the process of emigrating. He arrived in New York on December 21, 1950. Sponsored by the National Catholic Welfare Conference, Frank helped on a farm and worked in the carpentry shop at St. Procopius Abbey in Lisle, Illinois. In 1951, Frank joined the U.S. Army and served in Korea for one year. As a result of his service, Frank became an American citizen in 1954 and attended St. Procopius College (now Benedictine University) on the G.I. Bill. He studied political science and economics and began his career as a public health advisor. In 1959, Frank married Pavla Bouzová, whom he had first met ten years earlier at Ludwigsburg; they raised their six children speaking Czech. In 1967, Frank returned to Czechoslovakia for the first time. He says he had an emotional reunion with his four brothers who were at the airport to greet him. Today, Frank lives in Woodridge, Illinois.
The Šulc family lived in the village of Maňovice where they had a farm
“As boys we went to school, we came home, we had food on a plate in the kitchen, and then already it was time to line up and we went out and we were working. Even though sometimes we were rebelling, it was good. We learned. Every one of us had a certain job we had to do. Me, as a young boy – I am talking about when I was 12, 13, 14 – we had about five or six cows that I had to take to the pasture. That was my job. Oh, I didn’t like that; I’d say ‘Daddy, today’s Saturday, I want to go running around with the boys,’ and so on. But that was my responsibility. And at home, of course, we had to take care of the chicken and geese and all that stuff we had back at home. But it was a good education. It gave us a certain accomplishment and certain responsibility, and that goes with you for the rest of your life.
“We were very self-sufficient because we had all the meat; I remember on Sundays, we usually had a rabbit or goose or duck. We were self-sufficient. It was good. Looking back of course, we would say it was all good times; well it was difficult and hard work, without any question, but it was peaceful living in the countryside day after day, and it was a nice way of living.”
Frank talks about the education he received during WWII
“If I want to be honest, I had a bad education because those three or four years when I was in high school, we were learning about the Germans, and what was actually produced in Germany and history in Germany, every city in Germany, and we were actually neglecting quite of bit of education that we should have. Except maybe mathematics, but the rest of them – it was really poor education at that time.”
Frank recalls liberation and his first experience with American soldiers
“I was with a couple of my friends in the fields behind my home, and we were watching what we called – American pilots, they used to fly two of them, we called them – hloubkáři, they used to go down and shoot everything that moved. And we were watching that from the top and we had to be careful because they could even start shooting at us, and if any German transports were moving on the highways, they’d shoot everything down. We were watching them maybe for a couple hours and it was a beautiful show for us boys, 15 years old. And then suddenly, we were standing next to a road coming from another village, Kramolín, to Maňovice, and then suddenly, two Jeeps and a truck with machine gun came in. And that was the first time I saw an American soldier.
“They came to us and they asked us if there are any Nazis, because there were wooded hills. They were interested if in our village there were any Nazis. We told them ‘No, there are not any Nazis here, we are okay.’ ‘Then you are okay?’ They saluted to us and they left. And I was standing with my friends, and I didn’t mention it to them, but I said to myself, ‘Boy, that would be really something to be an American soldier.’ And that was it, because they had a Jeep and they were dressed up nicely, and I mean, we were all excited because we were free. And I said ‘I would like to be an American soldier.’ And in my wildest dreams, I did not realize in six years, I would be an American soldier. Me, a 15 year old boy, in a village in Czech Republic in Bohemia, it’s impossible. Completely impossible! And it happened.”
Boy Scouts was an integral part of Frank’s life
“In 1945 we established [the group]. We had three villages and we had about maybe 45 boys. In 1946 the government gave us actually, after Germans on the border left, a nice cottage in Šumava under Boubín – Boubín is a big hill, forest, it’s a beautiful countryside – and we used to spend summers there. And later on when I was 16, 17, I became an assistant leader of our district group, and I was especially taking care of Cubs. I had about 15 young boys, and that was my life. It was my life, and I used to take my boys to that summer camp for a couple weeks, and that cottage was in a beautiful meadow and there was a little creek next to us, and it was an ideal situation.”
And why did you like Boy Scouts so much? Why did it become so big a part of your life?
“During the second World War, we cannot have anything like that, and we were receiving, or you could buy a magazine about Boy Scouting – it was Mladý Hlasatel – and any young boy has ideals and dreams and so on, and we were [in to] Winnetou, Indians and all this stuff and we want to express ourselves. But like I said, the Germans were very strict and you cannot participate and we never had anything and everything, universities and schools closed down, and when the second World War was over, of course that desire of the youth came up. And here we were.”
Frank reads the statement regarding his reasons he left Czechoslovakia
“The reason for my flight abroad: I always had an anti-communist attitude. After the Communist coup in February 1948 in Czechoslovakia, I was deputy chief of the Boy Scout section Chlumy-Maňovice. It was announced to me by the local communist youth organization ČSM – that was Československý svaz mládeže, it was a communist organization – that the Scout organization were to become a branch of ČSM, which was under communist indoctrination. I opposed this strongly, declaring that the Scout organization had been, and always should be, an international and non-political organization. Though I had been threatened, I did not submit to their demands. Therefore, I was declared as a member of the reaction, enemy of the people’s democracy, and unreliable person. Later, information against me was sent to the court, and this was the first step to my arrest – as I was more or less expecting. Therefore, I decided to escape abroad, and I escaped from my country on July 30, 1948.”
Category: Chicago, Oral History