Sudeten-German Inferno: the little-known tragedy of the
Sudeten Germans

Ingomar Pust

Mass Murder
By Women With Submachine Guns
erman privates were also shot and beaten to death en masse in those days. One homecomer, Eduard Flach, reports:

"On August 9, 1945, 18 men in our camp were discovered to have been marked with the 'SS rune'. They had not been volunteer SS men, but ethnic Germans who had been drafted into the SS. All of them were very young fellows.

"These eighteen prisoners-of-war now had to stand up, one beside the other, with their faces towards a wooden barracks. The Czech guards and soldiers now beat them on their bare backs with iron bars and rifle butts until they collapsed into bleeding heaps. As the prisoners lay moaning on the ground, the Czechs pulled them up again and threw cold water on them. To this day I still see vividly how the fingers of several prisoners were smashed with heavy cudgel blows. This abuse of unparalleled brutality went on for about two hours, until darkness fell. At that point we were allowed to go, and the unconscious prisoners were dragged into the soldier camp - which was separated from the actual prison camp by a barbed wire fence - and there the beating continued. They could no longer even scream, only whimper. Again they were revived with water, and only then did the Czechs put them out of their misery with a bullet."

Another private, Hans Freund, recalls:

"I myself witnessed the following scene on Sparta Square in Prague. We were marched past the sports field, and after the order to 'halt' we were told to surrender our German military passbooks. About 50 men handed their passbooks over; about 300 men, including myself, did not. The 50 who had obeyed were herded onto the sports field and lined up facing a wall. The gates were closed, and the 50 men were mowed down from two sides with submachine guns operated by two women.

"When the prisoners were transferred into the custody of the Russian military, one Czech lieutenant, Jara Prochazka, was shot by a Soviet officer for wanting to maltreat us."

A Carinthian police officer who had served in the Estonian Legion reports:

"Together with eleven comrades I attempted to escape from Czechoslovakia via Hirschberg. But some Czechs caught us. It was not the usual practice to take small groups prisoner. They were simply gunned down. But we were lucky to be in the immediate vicinity of a camp where more than 1,400 prisoners were already being held. We were shoved in with the rest, and then they herded us off to Prague. On the run. Anyone who could run no longer dropped in their tracks. Then we would hear a shot behind us. The first to be shot were the older comrades, the Blitzmädchen - girls who had been assistants to the Wehrmacht - and the nurses, and our group shrank and shrank. We suffered raging thirst, but anyone who tried to get near a well or fountain was shot down. Of our group of more than 1,400 people, only a few hundred made it to Prague alive, and there we were handed over to the Russians. After our release from Russian captivity we again fell into Czech hands in Bodenbach in autumn 1945.

"At the train station the Czech railway people fell on us with iron bars and spanners and beat those at the fringes of our group into a terrible state. Later, in the train station building, we were asked which of us were able to speak a foreign language. Several spoke up. They were led outside, and right away we heard the bursts of gunfire that killed them.

"The admissions procedure at Brüx consisted of having to bend over a trestle and being horribly beaten by several torturers. If someone lost control over his bowels during the beating, the rest of us had to eat his feces if we did not wish to be gunned down. Abuse was the order of the day later on as well. One night the commanding officer arrived, together with a dog. A priest and I had to crawl in a circle while the dog literally tore our buttocks to pieces.

"I went through horrible things. But to this day it still tears at my heartstrings to recall the 13- or 14-year-old boy who was murdered before our eyes with a bullet into the back of his neck because, weakened as he was by hunger and exhaustion, he had been a tiny bit late at roll call."

Walter Fillafer of Klagenfurt recalls a scene from a Czech concentration camp:

"A tall blond Czech girl about 17 years of age was playfully swinging a submachine gun hanging over her shoulder. Suddenly she snapped the gun down, pulled the trigger and emptied her entire magazine into the crowd of soldiers waiting to march-off. I was unharmed and heard the order: whoever can move, gather at the edge of the woods. Anyone who tries to tend the wounded will be shot.

"Germans who were caught alone or in small groups had no chance of surviving. They were shot or beaten to death on the spot. Fusilier commandos overpowered the starved and defenseless privates and strung them from the trees."


50,000 Watched the Executions
n Sunday, May 13, 1945, near noon, Czech President Dr. Eduard Benes arrived in Prague. Rows of German people were set on fire as living torches in his honor.

The following is from the account of Dr. Hans Wagner, physician, who - almost by a miracle - was still at liberty that day. On May 14 he too was arrested. He witnessed the following:

"In the Altstädter Ring the sooty rubble of the gutted city hall and of several private homes stood out against the sky. From the wrought-iron company signs of the 'Usvatého Havla', a well-known restaurant opposite the city theater, dangled the half-charred remains of German soldiers, hung feet-up. One of the bodies was missing its right arm all the way up to the armpit - he had obviously been an amputee.

"Shouting and yelling carried over from the main gate of Wilson Train Station. I saw that a blonde woman was being attacked by the crowd, even though she defended herself in Czech and without any accent. In a trice she was surrounded, the clothes were torn off her body, and already she lay naked and covered in blood on the pavement, where she was beaten further. At that point a heavy beer wagon drove past, and in a great commotion the crowd unhitched the horses. One was tied to each leg of the prostrated woman and then urged in opposite directions. The body was torn apart; the woman screamed horribly before she died.

"One Sunday afternoon the Revolutionary Guard invaded one of the double cells in our block, where 25 boys aged 14 to 16 were housed. These boys were from the Reichenberg area and were accused of having been 'werewolves'. As we could hear from the orders given, the boys were lined up outside the door in rows of two, facing each other. First they had to enact a children's hopping game, after which they were ordered to shout 'Heil Hitler' and to box each other's ears. Both male and female spectators urged them on, and not only with rubber truncheons. This 'game' escalated into bloodshed; the boys then had to lick the blood off the stone floor. If one refused, he was beaten for it. Some of these children became sick to their stomachs, and the others were forced to eat their vomit. Then they were forced to strip to their skin, and one after the other had to lie on a table where they were flogged until the flesh hung in shreds from their bodies. All the while their torturers indulged in the most dirty and stupid jokes imaginable. When all the boys had been thus tortured, they were dragged into the basement, and those that still gave any sign of life were strung up on hooks on the wall, and liquidated.

"The Czech security guard Cink from the automobile and airplane factory Walter in Jinonitz near Prague lay ill in my cell. He ran a raging fever. Diagnosis: kidney disease. One night he fell out of bed, delirious, and remained lying unconscious on the floor. When I pulled the blanket off his bunk to cover him up, the toilet stench from his cot almost knocked me over. Neither urine bottle nor night pot had been provided for him, so that all his body wastes had remained where they happened to fall. Dying, he was taken to the General Hospital.

"One beautiful September evening there was a tremendous uproar on the square outside the Pankraz Palace of Justice. That part of the square which I was able to observe from my window (though I had been forbidden to do so) was jam-packed with automobiles and pedestrians, mothers came pushing their prams and even the school-age children climbed up on the roofs of the cars. Suddenly a seemingly endless torrent of applause burst out: Professor Dr. Josef Pfitzner, mayor of Prague, was being hung on the middle of three tall gallows that were set up on a black-draped podium.

"Pfitzner was followed by a number of other well-known persons. The execution show lasted for hours. 50,000 Czechs watched insatiably."

Public execution on Pankraz Square in Prague.
The public execution of German university professor Dr. Josef Pfitzner of Prague on Pankraz Square on September 6, 1945 was turned into Czech public entertainment.


First Tortured, Then Shot in the Grave
ith raised hands the German men of Landskron had to appear before a Revolutionary Tribunal on May 17, 1945, recounts Julius Friedel. "The first in each row had to carry a portrait of Hitler, covered with phlegm and bloody spit, and the next in line had to lick it clean when ordered to do so.

"The last 20 to 30 steps to the Judges' table had to be traversed by the men on their knees. Here each was told what his sentence would be. And then a terrible running of the gauntlet began; many were drowned in the firefighting pond. Karl Piffl, master carpenter, was dragged out of the pond again half-dead, and was then literally beaten to death and trampled to mush.

"Foreman Reichstädter was beaten beyond recognition, stood up against the wall of the city hall, and shot. Running out of the alley that led to the prison, driven on by howling Czechs, came engineer Josef Neugebauer, streaming with blood. He too died facing the wall of the city hall with hands raised - felled by a hail of bullets from submachine guns. Engineer Otto Dietrich died the same way. Peasant farmer Viktor Benes died there too after the top of his skull had been shot off. And those were only the people I knew personally.

"The cries of agony of the bleeding people soon drowned out everything else. The dead lay piled everywhere.

"On May 18 those who still survived were again herded together in the city square. The most horrible tortures continued. After his share of the torture, master plumber Josef Jurenka had to place the noose around his own neck, to be hung from a gas street lamp.

"Robert Schwab, an official from Ober-Johnsdorf, died similarly. The other Germans had to keep the bodies of these two hanged men constantly in swinging motion. Engineer Köhler, who was originally from Germany, was stabbed with walking-canes, to the gleeful howling of the mob. All day long the normally quite city square rang with dreadful cries and screams. After that day, mass suicides of Germans began throughout the District."

Regarding Komotau, Ottokar Kremen reports:

"The soldiers from the SS were tortured horribly. Those who had already been beaten twice or even three times had festering wounds. The pus soaked through their shirts and jackets. The backs of these poor people were crawling with flies and stank dreadfully. They were put separately in a small room called 'Marodka'. Once eight to ten were in 'Marodka', these battered people who could barely move had to dig a hole two meters deep and 60 cm wide. In the evening, when the hole was finished, they were forced to stand up beside it and the first of them had to lie down in the hole (grave), and not until he was in it was he shot from above. The second man had to lie down on the first body and was also shot from above, and in this way it continued until the grave was stacked full. One time there was still some room left over for one more, and so they got a woman, 67 years of age, whose hair had been cut off. She had been tortured, but still refused to tell where her son was. She had to lie down on top of the bodies. Then she too was killed.

"Words fail me to describe the appearance of those people who had been beaten twice. I saw a member of the Waffen-SS who had already endured two beatings. Aside from his body, which was battered to a pulp, his private parts had swollen by about 8 or 9 cm in diameter, they were wholly suffused with blood and the testicles were beginning to fester; right to the anus everything was full of pus, and he stank horribly. Every day more and more people joined the ranks of these unfortunates. The 'Stráz bezpecnosti' brought the people into the camp already half-dead.

"And then came the day of the mass murders in Postelberg. Large groups, up to 80 men at a time, were gathered up and marched out. The men knew what was in store for them. They strode upright and with stony faces past those who remained behind. Not one begged for his life."


Gruesome "Czech Cocktail"
an Kouril is probably the only Czech who has been called to account for his crimes. He was recognized and arrested in 1951 in Karlsruhe, and sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment.

The indictment stated, "Kouril was the terror of the Kaunitz camp. Beatings and tortures took place on his orders, and prisoners were forced to drink pus and urine out of buckets." Prisoners were hauled up and down a gallows as public entertainment. Others were branded with a red-hot iron. In the interrogation room one witness was pushed face-first into a full bedpan while having to sing the German national anthem. The camp's former gravedigger later testified that in the course of his work there he had carted off the bodies of about 1,800 Germans who had been hung or beaten to death.

And another witness, speaking of Postelberg, reports: "What took place in the large square is beyond human imagination. Here one is boxed about the ears, there another is being kicked; here a dog is set on some prisoners, there some are beaten with truncheons on their bare buttocks, and next to them, other prisoners are forced to beat each other with canes, while guards look on to make sure that the blows are not perchance too gentle."

Senior district court judge Dr. Franz Freyer recounts this incident:

"One time five German boys had tried to escape. But they were found and brought back only a few hours later, and taken to Captain Marek. Agitated and trembling, men and boys watched the terrible scene that was now played out before their eyes. 'One word of displeasure, just one, and we will shoot!' Marek warned us. The five boys were led to the riding school, stripped of their pants, and the punishment began. It was disgusting to see how the Czechs crowded around, each eager to land a few blows of his own. The merciless blows with canes and whips reduced the boys to heart-rending whimpers. Blood ran down their thighs, then the Czech 'soldiers' dispersed. The boys remained standing with their faces to the wall. A guard posted himself beside them.

"Gradually the agitated spectators calmed down. Everyone believed that the boys' punishment was over and done with this beating. But we were terribly mistaken.

"Half an hour later, several Czechs holding guns took up position near the boys. A guard called out: 'Anyone else who tries to escape will be shot, just like these boys will be now.'

"At first the frightened boys looked over their shoulders, then they turned around. Two of the Czechs who stood fairly close aimed at the first boy in the line-up. Their shots rang out, and the boy sank to the ground. His blood stained the wall behind him. The other boys pleaded, 'Captain, sir, we won't do it again!' The second boy in the line tried to run to the executioners to slap their rifle barrels up - but these murderers had already repeated their guns, and the second boy fell to the ground amid their fire. Mortar sprayed up, and again blood stained the wall. The remaining three boys now faced their fate heroically. The third cried out for his mother before collapsing; the fourth remained on his feet after the first salvo, looked silently into the gun barrels pointed at him anew, and sank to the ground only after the second row of shots. The fifth was also gunned down. These boys were perhaps 15 years old.

"We grown-ups had to watch the murders helplessly. There was to be no end to the mental torture that day. Those marked for death were kept in the stables along the narrow back of the yard. Punctually on the stroke of every hour, a group of Czechs armed with canes and whips went into the stables, and then, for about ten minutes, we heard the screams and whimpers of the beaten. This went on like that until evening. The shootings themselves were not as nerve-racking as this torturing of people who had been chosen for execution and who were so brutally tormented beforehand. Every day prisoners were shot and thrown into the slit trenches, which the rest of us then had to use as latrines."

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Sudeten German Inferno
The hushed-up tragedy of the ethnic Germans in Czechoslovakia