From surviving the Second World War and being held captive in German concentration camps, to becoming a crocodile hunter, Frantiseck (Frank) Cervenak lived a full life.
From surviving the Second World War and being held captive in German concentration camps, to becoming a crocodile hunter, Frantiseck (Frank) Cervenak lived a full life.

Before death he told his grandchild one last horrifying tale

FROM surviving the Second World War held captive in German concentration camps to becoming a crocodile hunter, Frantiseck (Frank) Cervenak lived a full life.

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The 92-year-old Calliope man was farewelled at his funeral on Tuesday by family and friends, all of whom had a story to share about this remarkable man.

With seven children, 17 grandchildren, 22 great-grandchildren and an amazing four loving great-great-grandchildren, the Czechoslovakia-born Mr Cervenak has definitely left a legacy.

Before his passing, he sat down with one of his grandchildren, Shanna Coomber, and told her the stories of his past while held at the German concentration camps of World War II, and she wrote it all down.

It was June, 1942 when Mr Cervenak was sent to work in Berlin in construction labour, mostly on bomb damaged government buildings.

The following year in January he, along with six others, were taken to a concentration camp where they spent the next four months.

"The camp was a meat works before the war," he said.

"After, it held Jewish prisoners of war, and Russian enemies suspected of partisan.

"We slept on slabs of wood no bedding or blankets, and the windows were (purposely) broken to allow the cold and snow to come in.

"(Where we slept) was infested with rats, we were often bitten."

While in camp, Mr Cervenak wore wooden clogs and used old rags for socks, making it difficult to walk on snow and ice in the middle of the bitter German winter that made life such a misery for most prisoners.

"And food was usually half a litre at the most, of soup with potato, whole linseed seeds and sometimes a few pieces of horse lung; if you were lucky," he said.

"To use the toilet we had 44 gallon drums for the night, and during the day was a hole in the ground with two rails, which we squatted on, and one rail above our heads to hang on to."

The rails above the toilet were also often covered in ice; so those who were too weak to hold themselves up would fall in.

Mr Cervenak was only 19 years old and had seen his fair share of bodies.

"When somebody died, we carried him to a mass grave and threw him in," he said.

"It was winter time and you could see the bodies piled in a heap."

Mr Cervenak was released from that camp, and travelled around to others, when a camp he was living in was bombed.

He escaped the camp and boarded a boat to Australia in 1949.

A certificate of Authority to Remain in Australia was awarded to Mr Cervenak signed by the then Minister for Immigration, E.A Bird.

While in Australia, Mr Cervenak met his wife, Patricia Lally, in Brisbane.

Together they had seven children, who grew up watching their dad's adventures as a crocodile hunter and fisherman. Mr Cervenak found himself living in Calliope on a property with relatives, right up until the day he passed.

Despite having a career as a crocodile hunter, Mr Cervenak always had a soft spot for animals, and had many of his own pets at the property that he loved and cared for.

He passed away after living a full life, due to illness, on Fathers Day.



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