(Page 2 of 6)Report No. 62
Reported by: Anna Seidel Report of July 4, 1947
I am 67 years old, the widow of an engineer, and have lived in one and the same house in Prague XVI-Smichow, at Hollergasse 16, for 40 years. In all those years I never once had the slightest quarrel or difference of opinion with anyone, neither in everyday matters nor in terms of politics, which is something I was never active in, in any way. Nonetheless four civilians (partisans) armed with fixed bayonets dragged me from my home at 3 o'clock on May 9. In the corridor four elderly women stood with their faces to the wall, "hands up", with a man armed with a rifle standing behind each. They included Frau Kogert, 67 years old, the widow of a senior engineer, Frau Arbes, 70 years old, the widow of a professor, and her daughter, all of whom lived in the surrounding houses. We were led to the suburb of Radlitz, into a factory where we were deprived of everything, truly everything we had on us: money, papers, jewelry etc. We were maltreated, kicked in the back and beaten so badly that for weeks afterwards we were black and blue all over. Our hair was brutally chopped off, then they painted black swastikas on our foreheads, poured several buckets of cold water over us, loaded us onto a truck, where we had to remain in a kneeling position, and drove us like that slowly through the streets while still continually beating us. At the same time we had to shout: "My jsme Hitler-kurvy" = "We are Hitler-whores," and if we didn't shout this loudly or convincingly enough they landed further blows, ever harder, on us - on helpless and defenseless old women! In this way we finally arrived at the police headquarters, where we had to spend all night in the yard in our wet clothes. The next morning we were taken to the prison in Pankratz, where we had to stay for four weeks. After that they carted us in open coal wagons to the "Small Fortress Theresienstadt", where we spent an entire year locked up behind barred windows and forced to do heavy physical labor: entraining coal on the railroad, also lumber, furniture, clearing barracks, cleaning overflowing toilets whose doors could hardly even be opened any more, and doing duty without any protection or sanitary measures in undescribable conditions in typhus barracks. All of this was done in striped prison garb, which we had been given immediately upon arrival after we had had to strip totally naked and to throw our clothes onto a big pile, of course never to see any of them ever again!
The martyrdom inflicted on the men was horrifying (they had to roll around and crawl in sharp gravel and if they did not do it vigorously enough they were tormented with kicks). And it was horrible to see how the people died left, right and center! Our rations consisted of two cups of watery soup per day, usually none or only very few potatoes, 200 g bread, and bitter black coffee. Only at the very end did we receive a little sugar and margarine, which made us conclude that our release was imminent, which was the correct conclusion since our deliverance came in mid-May.
I am ready and willing to take this my report on my oath at any time before the appropriate authorities.
Reported by: Marianne Klaus Report of June 26, 1946 (Prague)
On May 9, 1945 my husband Gotthard Klaus, 66 years old, was beaten to death in the police headquarters in Prague. I saw him for the last time on May 10, at 4 o'clock in the morning. He had fist-sized lumps on his face, his nose and mouth were a bloody mass, and his hands were hugely swollen. I also saw how two SS-men were beaten in the face with whips until they collapsed, covered in blood, then they were kicked in the stomach until blood burst out, and then they were dragged down some stairs by the feet. I saw how a Wehrmacht assistant was stoned until she collapsed, and how she was then hanged from a store awning. On the Day of Revolution I saw an SS-man hanging from a candelabra, hung by one foot and burning from the head up. That was May 9, 1945 in Prague.
Reported by: Helene Bugner Report of June 7, 1946 (Prague)
From the 5th of May, 1945 onwards, the Germans in Prague were not allowed to leave their apartments. On May 9th I was knocked about by the janitor in my apartment, then, without luggage, led away in order to take part in the work of removing the barricades in the streets of Prague. My labour group consisted of 20 women, among them some 60 to 70 years old. We were in the charge of Professor Zelenka. When we stepped out of the house, Professor Zelenka handed us over to the mob with the following words: "Here are the German bitches for you." Calling us German whores, the mob forced us to kneel down and then our hair was cut with bayonets. Our shoes and stockings were taken off, so that we had to walk barefoot. With each step and at every moment we were inhumanly beaten with sticks, rubber truncheons etc. Whenever a woman sank to the ground, she was kicked, rolled in the mud and stoned. I myself fainted several times; water was poured over me and I was forced to continue working. When I was quite unable to do any more work, I received a kick in the left side which broke two of my ribs. During one of my fainting fits they cut a piece of about 4 square cm (about 0.6 square inches) out of the sole of my foot. These tortures lasted the whole afternoon. Among us were women far advanced in pregnancy and nursing mothers, who were ill-treated in the same way. In the course of 3 or 4 days one of the women had a miscarriage.
In the evening we went home. I was so disfigured from the maltreatment and tortures which I had suffered that my children no longer recognised me. My face was crusted with blood and my dress reduced to blood-stained rags; two women living in our house committed suicide in despair, another woman became insane. Our bodies were swollen and covered with black and blue marks, and all of us had open head wounds. Since none of us was able to move, we were kept in custody in a small apartment in our house for three weeks. During this time we were subjected to unendurable mental tortures by threats that our children would be taken away from us and that we should be deported to Siberia.
Three weeks later we were sent to the camp at Hagibor. There were 1200 persons lodged there in four barracks. All fell sick with hunger dysentery, for the diet consisted of a cup of thin water-gruel twice a day for children and for the grown-ups a cup of black coffee with a thin slice of bread morning and evening and a watery soup at noontime. The privies could be used only three times a day at certain hours, although everybody was suffering from dysentery. There was forced labour for everybody. Each evening the labour groups returned to the camp badly beaten up. Medical care was completely lacking. A German doctor, who was also a prisoner, did what was possible, but he had nothing, neither medicaments, bandages nor the most common instruments, as for instance a clinical thermometer; thus women who arrived at the camp with bullet wounds or other injuries had to remain virtually without medical attention. Epidemics of measles, scarlet fever, whooping-cough and diphtheria broke out, which could not be dealt with.
One day we were ordered to line up for roll call. We had to stand in the open air for seven hours, while a terrific thunderstorm with hail and a high wind, which unroofed two barracks, burst right over our heads. The very same day we were transported from the station in open coal wagons, which were in a bad state of repair. The space between us was so small that there was hardly room for us to stand. At 3 o'clock in the morning we arrived at Kolin while it was pouring rain. At Kolin we were lodged in the heavily damaged school. Two women died of exhaustion while marching from the station to this school. During the march we were struck repeatedly with rubber truncheons until almost everybody was bleeding. Next day we were taken from the school to the building of the Czech Red Cross. The Czech Red Cross nurse admitted groups of Russian soldiers to the camps each night and called their attention to several attractive women and girls, who were raped, sometimes up to 45 times a night, in the most inhuman and barbarous way. One could hear their desperate cries for help during the whole night. Next morning some of them showed the marks of bites on their faces, their noses were bitten off and they were lying there without any medical care, for in this camp also no professional medical attention was available.
After several days I was sent together with 45 other women, among them a woman with 6 small children, to a Czech estate, in order to work there. Here we stayed for 3½ months until all of us, including myself, broke down from exhaustion and debilitation. Receiving the same kind and the same amount of food as at Hagibor, we had to do the hardest agricultural work, even on Sundays. The children received the same food as the adults, without one drop of milk, so that three out of four died. All the children under a year old had already died in the camp in Prague.
While we were working we were watched by armed guards, who abused and tormented us every day. Became of my fractured ribs I was unable to do any work where I had to bend forward, therefore I hoed the turnips in a kneeling position. While I was working the guards would insult me and strike me. When my child, like the others, got scarlet fever and I implored the foreman to get the doctor, he simply told me, "The Národní výbor has ordered that Germans should not get medical attendance."
Every night the villagers sent groups of Russian soldiers to our lodgings, who raped the women. For 3½ months we lived in this way, working hard from sunrise to sunset, constantly mistreated and insulted, with no food worth mentioning, the children without control or care, scabby and full of lice, we ourselves delivered over to Russian soldiers during the night. Cleaning facilities were nonexistent, since we were not even allowed to have a pail. Besides vermin we all suffered from all sorts of open, festering wounds. I had one festering boil next to another on my right hand, the hand with which I had to work.
A doctor, who was one of our fellow prisoners, explained to me that he was not allowed to accept exhaustion as grounds for incapacity for work, otherwise he himself would get into very serious trouble. As a consequence of my fractured ribs I contracted pleurisy and was sent to Prague, in order to be transferred to Germany. When I arrived in Prague, the transfers had already been suspended and I stayed in a camp there until Christmas. The camp was so crowded that none of the inmates had enough room to lie down.
We and our children had to sleep in a squatting position on the bare floor, without straw, while the Czechs who had been interned were lodged in two barracks furnished with beds. Whenever foreign observers visited the camp, they were only taken into these two barracks.
The sanitary arrangements beggared description. Often there was no water for three days. Children and adults contracted scurvy of the mouth and festering abscesses. Oozing exanthemas, tuberculosis, spotted typhus, smallpox and children's diseases broke out. Every child had rickets. Women gave birth to children while wearing the same dresses and underwear they had been wearing for months. Most of the infants died. Only a few mothers were able to feed their babies.
In the camp at Prague there was a dark cell. Inmates of the camp were confined there for quite minor offences for as long as three days, without food.
As a result of an intervention by the British Embassy, by whom I had been employed as secretary for 12 years, I was released and sent to the town of Asch at Christmas 1945.
I am prepared to swear to the truth of these statements.
Reported by: Johann Schöniger Report of October 14, 1946 (Prague)
Until 1939 I was in London, where I owned a store. At the same time I maintained an experimental laboratory in Prague, where I worked on various inventions. In May 1945 I was arrested by the Czechs and imprisoned in Prague Public School XIII , where I was literally tortured, as they wanted to extort details about my inventions. They knocked nails into the soles of my feet and pounded on them with iron bars, and generally beat me up on a daily basis. My colleague Schubert was beaten to death. Then I was taken to the penal camp Ratisko near Stechovice, where like all the other inmates I was beaten daily for 14 months. We were robbed of everything we had, even the clothes we wore were literally taken off our backs by the guards. In the winter we had to do heavy manual labor, barefoot. After the camp was disbanded in June of this year, I was sent to the Hagibor camp near Prague, where conditions were a little better.
My wife and our children, aged 4 months and 5½ years, spent this time in the concentration camp Melnik-Pechovka, where she and the children had to do day-labor for a farmer in the area. Our clothes are totally ragged and tattered.
Reported by: Hildegard Hurtinger Report of November 6, 1946 (Prague)
I have lived in Prague since 1923, with the exception of a five-year period from 1938 to 1942, dring which time I lived in Teplitz. On May 5, 1945 a Czech mob took me from my home and, beating and clubbing me all the while, dragged me by the hair some 500 meters into the Scharnhorst School, where I was robbed of everything so that all I had left were my stockings and the dress I wore. I was immediately interrogated by a Czech commissar, a woman, and accused of having sent 16 Czechs to die in a concentration camp - in 1942, at a time when I was not even in Prague. Every time I denied an allegation I was slapped about the head. Then I was taken into so-called Separation, where I and my fellow prisoners, men and women, were brutally maltreated. At night all inmates were repeatedly called out into the yard, and groups of 10 men, women and children were counted out - among them my two brothers and their families - and shot before the eyes of the other inmates. My brother's youngest child was only 5 months old. Then the rest of us had to dig graves, strip the bodies, and bury them. At other times as well, day or night, the guards would take random shots at the prisoners. Thousands died in this way. One such time a bullet grazed my neck. I stayed where I lay under the corpses for a whole day and night because I did not dare get up. Then Revolutionary Guardsmen stepped over the bodies and blindly stabbed any who still lived with their bayonets. My left hand was impaled in the process.
In Separation we got nothing at all to eat. Children were given spittoons as 'meals'. Those children who refused them were beaten. Armed Czech women dragged pregnant prisoners from the cells and out into the yard, where they stripped and beat them, then stuffed them into latrines and beat them until their bellies burst. I myself had to help carry off the bodies of the women who had died that way. For many days at least ten women died in this way every day. During the day groups of six to eight women were taken to work in St. Gotthard Church. There we had to kiss the dead bodies that were already rotting, pile them up, and clean the church floor of the blood that ran there by getting down on our knees and licking it up. A Czech mob supervised this work and beat us. This went on for days. I also saw how candle flames were used to burn swastikas into the palms of German men, among them engineer Färber from the German-Czech Technical College.
On May 20 we were led to Wenzel Square where German boys and girls, and soldiers too, were hung alive by their feet from lamp posts and trees and, in front of our very eyes, were doused with petroleum and set on fire. I myself had to stay at the Scharnhorst School until September 20 of last year. The brutalities went on the entire time, without respite. Then I was transferred to Pankratz, from where I was sent to work at the Philipps Factory in Prague. On November 6 of last year I was brutally beaten with a rubber truncheon by the camp leader there because I had expressed a wish to go to church, as it was my wedding anniversary. - Later, our treatment improved considerably, as did our rations.
Reported by: Alfred Gebauer Report of June 21, 1946 (Prague)
On May 6, 1945 I was arrested in Prague for the crime of being a German, and was interned successively in the concentration camps set up in the Ministry of Education, the Scharnhorst School, the Wehrmacht prison, Riding School, Stadium and Work House until late September, when I was committed to the court prison of Troppau.
From there I was released for resettlement [expulsion] on June 12, 1946. I am a seriously disabled ex-serviceman, and on my arrest Vlasov soldiers slapped me about the head and robbed me of everything I had. I became an eyewitness to the following events:
In the Scharnhorst School female employees of the SS had to roll around in a shallow pond, entirely naked as the clothes had been torn off their bodies. Then they were maltreated with kicks and blows from rifle butts until they lost consciousness. In the Stadium, before 5,000 inmates, SS-soldiers were hunted with submachine guns like in a turkey-shoot. 20 SS soldiers were shot in the process. Some were forced to jump into the latrine, where they were shot with submachine guns. Their bodies were left in the latrine, and the other inmates had to keep using it. On one transport some women were so badly beaten with rubber truncheons that they collapsed, covered in blood. In the Riding School some inmates were randomly selected and beaten so badly, before the eyes of all the others, that they collapsed in bloody heaps. Then they were dragged out, and we heard several shots ring out. Many Czech collaborators were also beaten to death there.
For the first five days after my arrest, we got no rations other than one bucket of water for 600 of us. On the sixth day we got a sugar cube and one biscuit. From the 7th day on all we got was watery soup, and consequently from 15 to 20 people died of debilitation each day.
On my committal to Troppau prison I was badly beaten. For eight weeks the food parcels which my sister sent me in prison there were misappropriated by the guards.
I am prepared to take this statement on my oath.
Reported by: engineer Franz Rösch Report of June 26, 1946 (Prague)
From June 12 until 15, 1945 I was assigned to the burial detail in Prague-Wokowitz. In Prague-Wokowitz I saw thousands of German soldiers and civilians, men and women and even boys 10 years and up, being brutally murdered. Most of them were bludgeoned to death by the Revolutionary Guard; a smaller number were shot. Most were shot only to torture them with flesh wounds, and then beaten to death. Often the dreadfully beaten bodies were rubbed with hydrochloric acid to heighten their agony. One Frau Blume from Berlin had to record the deaths. In some cases people with tight-fitting rings had their fingers torn off while still alive. The bodies were buried in mass graves in Wokowitz near the cemetery.
I then worked on a farm until May 2, 1946, even though I had lost my right arm in the war. I had to load manure and do other hard farmwork with my left arm. When I could no longer do these jobs, I was sent to the penal camp of Kladno on May 2, 1946. There I saw how prisoners were basted with hot tar on their bare skin and on their backs and buttocks, and were beaten terribly. I myself was beaten every day during the two weeks I was there. My right kidney was knocked loose, so that I had to be sent to the hospital in Schlan.
Reported by: Dr. Pohlner Report of June 26, 1946 (Prague)
From January 10 until May 3, 1946 I served as physician in the concentration camp Prosetschnitz near Prague. The camp was surrounded with barbed wire, decorated with the Soviet Star and guarded by 100 SNB armed with submachine guns. When I left there were still more than 8,000 prisoners there. The quarters were bearable, and we were able to move around the camp somewhat. On the other hand, the slightest violation of the orders, which the camp administration issued daily and which can easily be described as harassment, was immediately punished by withholding rations from the entire camp, including the children, for one day. In view of the already insufficient rations this had disastrous effects. Normal rations consisted only of black, barely sweetened coffee twice daily, two cups watery potato soup and 250 g bread. That comes to 400-500 calories at most. Yet everyone in the camp had to work. Without exception, if a prisoner did not receive extra food from relatives outside the camp, the men would die within 3 to 4 months, the women within 4 to 5, from instritio universalis marked by total emaciation, swelling of the limbs and face, and sudden heart failure. Mortality due to starvation accounted for 5 to 10 deaths every day. Added to that were just as many deaths from typhus, paratyphus, dysentery, scarlet fever, diphtheria, tuberculosis and normal internal diseases which could not be treated or cured due to the lack of a reasonable selection of medications and dietary treatment. The camp leader, Mahol, only ever responded to appeals and requests with a shrug of refusal. In April the camp was inspected by a committee from the International Red Cross, with whom I spoke personally and who also promised assistance. From the following day on rations got even worse, and remained so. The treatment of the inmates also grew harsher, for example, even the children were beaten. Children and teenagers got the same rations, and if they were under 6 years of age they might get a bit of milk every now and then. Infant mortality was very high, and nursing mothers got no extra food other than a double helping of soup at noon.
Reported by: Hans Freund Report of March 9, 1950 (Prague)
I was captured by partisans in Prague on May 5th, 1945, and taken to Rusin, where we stayed four weeks. The treatment was bad, we were thrashed with clubs and rifle-butts, then forced to stand with our faces to the wall and our hands up; anyone who moved was knocked down. I saw a Sudeten German private, 23 or 24 years old, being shot down for answering in Czech.
Our daily food ration consisted of 40 g of bread, a cup of soup, sauerkraut and coffee. Four weeks later we were taken over by the Russian army and sent to Dresden.
I myself witnessed the following scene at the Sparta Square in Prague: we were marched to the well-known sports ground and after being commended to "halt" we were asked for our German military papers. About 50 men handed over the pay-books while some 300 - and I was among these - did not deliver them. The 50 men were rounded up on the sports ground and had to stand facing the wall. Afterwards the gates were shut and the 50 men were mowed down from two sides with old German machine guns, which were served by two women.
Three Czech civilians, wearing red badges, mistreated us severely at the jail in Rusin during those four weeks. Their names were Josef Navrátil, Miloslav Kopecký, Pokorný.
When the Russian army took over the prisoners, a Czech lieutenant named Jara Procházka was shot by an adjutant because he attempted to torture us, which the Russian Colonel would not allow.
While marching to the Sparta sports ground I saw a group of Czech women take a German woman of 20 or 21 years of age, who was just getting into a truck, tie her up together with her child and throw both into the river Moldau.
On our march from Rusin to Dresden, elderly people who were unable to walk any further were simply shot by the escorting partisans.
We had to march in terrible heat (June 1945) and we received no water, so that it was no wonder that elderly people collapsed.
I am prepared to take an oath on these statements.