(Page 1 of 2)Report No. 1
Reported by: A. U. Report of February 8, 1951
About 10 o'clock on the day in question I walked into the center of the town. As soon as I entered the busier streets, I discovered both in the former Dresdener Strasse and in the Schmejkal Strasse that the soldiers of the notorious Svoboda-army were attacking the Germans wearing their white armbands, driving them from the sidewalks and even knocking them down. I asked what was going on and learned that during the night the Svoboda-army had arrived at Aussig.
Judging by events in other regions of the Sudetenland I immediately guessed that now rough times would come for the Germans of Aussig and of the whole district.
I arrived at the station just as about 300 persons left the train coming from Prague; they were suspicious-looking people between 18 and 30 years of age and I had the impression that they were convicts released from a prison.
At half past three in the afternoon I sat in my apartment when there was a terrific bang. At that moment I thought that a cupboard had fallen over in the next room. I looked into it, but could find nothing. I then assumed that an explosion must have occurred and went up to the roof. There I noticed a large cloud of smoke rising behind the Marienberg. Several smaller explosions followed. I immediately ran downtown - not wearing my white armband, which proved lucky for me. The hunt after the Germans had begun. Soldiers of the Svoboda-army and individual Russians took part in it. These brutes had equipped themselves with all sorts of makeshift weapons such as fence-posts, crow-bars, shovel-handles and so on. With these they struck down all those who spoke German or wore the white badge. I had the impression that the perpetrators were not Czechs from our own district, but those who had left the train in the forenoon. My impression was strengthened by the fact that they had helped themselves to any instruments at hand to improvise their weapons.
I walked through the streets of the town for about two hours; what I saw during that time was dreadful. Of course, I could not say a word, since that would have exposed me as a German.
The factories closed at 3 o'clock in the afternoon and the Germans who worked in the Schicht-works had to use the bridges over the River Elbe in order to get home. The most savage groups therefore were active near these bridges, in the vicinity of the marketplace and the railway station. Even women with babies in perambulators were shoved into the river and then used for target practice. The shooting did not stop until none of the women rose to the surface any longer. Other Germans were thrown into the big water-tank on the market-place. Whenever one of them rose to the surface, the Czechs would push him down again and keep him under water with long poles. Only at 5 o'clock in the afternoon a number of Russian officers appeared and tried to clear the streets. Uniformed Czechs helped them in doing so. Loudspeakers announced the curfew in Czech. On July 31st, a printed poster was issued, announcing that the Germans were not allowed to be in the streets after 6 o'clock in the afternoon, the curfew for the Czech population began at 8 o'clock p.m.
In the evening of July 30th the dead were collected at three places and then taken away in trucks. About 400 corpses were counted at all three collection points. How many may have been collected elsewhere and the number of those who floated down the Elbe cannot be established. Not even the most informed members of the National Committee were able to make an estimate.
In the evening of July 30th I obtained knowledge that it was intended to clear all Germans out of the district of Aussig as well as the neighbouring districts of Teplitz and Tetschen-Bodenbach and to send these people to the interior of the country, where they would be used as forced labour.
The Germans were generally accused of sabotage and of the authorship of the explosion.
What had really happened?
In the Schönpriesen section of the town there had been stored the ammunition of the artillery, Panzerfäuste - an anti-tank weapon - and similar weapons as well as other ammunition left from the last days of the war in May 1945. According to Czech statements two million articles were in this depot. Prisoners from the concentration camp at Lerchenfeld, among them several prominent Nazis, were occupied with sorting the ammunition, weapons and so on. On July 30th these prisoners had, surprisingly enough, been taken away at a quarter to three p.m., so that for 40 minutes before the explosion no German had been on the grounds. Only Czech guards were there. Several seconds before the explosion an airplane crossed this section of the town - as it turned out later on, the plane was a British one, which had no connection whatsoever with the explosion. In 1947 I talked to one of the passengers who described his observations to me. This airplane played a considerable part in my statements to Czech authorities concerning the causes of the explosion.
The alibi of the Chief of Police of the District National Committee was that he had been consulting a German physician at the time of the explosion and left him only after it was over.
A number of officials, among them the Military Commander, were assembled in the office of the District National Committee. The last-named left the office immediately after the explosion, with the words: "Now we will start the anti-German revolution". Then the slaughter began.
I myself went to Prague on August 31st and visited several prominent Czech functionaries who were known to me and described to them what I had seen. There I also pointed out that the explosion was a sort of "Reichstag-fire" to give occasion for a massacre of the Germans.
In the meantime three Czech ministers had arrived at Aussig, among them General Svoboda. I had the impression that the authorities in Prague had been embarrassed by the incidents at Aussig. It was also rumoured that foreign journalists had filmed the incidents and that the film was already in security. The then Czech Government had still some respect for the opinion of the Western World. The plans for further evacuations were cancelled and further persecution of the Germans prohibited.
It is significant that only one of the main functionaries of the District National Committee in Aussig, who formed the so-called leading group, is still alive. I should like to stress that the Czech mayor of Aussig at that time, one Vondra, attempted by all possible means to check the fury of the newly-arrived horde. Indeed, the mob almost threw the Czech mayor himself into the Elbe.
At the end of November 1945 I went to Prague for a second time. On the train I met a Czech from Schönpriesen and talked with him. He said that he had been ordered to Prague in order to be interrogated as a witness in connection with the explosion at Aussig. He told me that he, like many others, was convinced that the explosion had been carefully prepared and carried out by a camarilla and that the incidents after the explosion also belonged to the pre-arranged scheme. What came of the interrogation I was unable to find out, as I did not meet the man again.
This is the truth about those events. All the other accounts which have been published by the Czechs are not in full correspondence with the truth. The description in Bruno Brehm's new book Am Rande des Abgrundes (On the brink of the abyss) is also not authentic.
Reported by: Therese Mager Report of August 11, 1946 (Aussig)
Until the evacuation I lived in Aussig, at Teplitzer Street number 36. On the afternoon of July 30, 1945, around 4:30 p.m., I was walking through Schönpriesener Street to Aussig. Suddenly I heard the sound of detonations from the direction of the Schönpriesen sugar refinery, and soon I also saw clouds of smoke rising up. At the same time the Czechs began to spread the rumor that the Germans had caused the explosions, and began to persecute anyone who wore a white armband. I myself was in the medical corps, and my Red Cross armband clearly identified me as nurse. The Czechs stormed through the streets, beat the Germans down or shot at them when they tried to flee.
I ran to the bridge that crosses the Elbe river, and here I saw hundreds of workers who were coming from the Schicht manufacturing plant, being thrown into the Elbe. The Czechs even shoved women and children and even baby carriages into the river. These Czechs were mostly wearing black uniforms with red armbands (SNB men). They threw women and children who could not defend themselves from the 60-foot-high bridge into the river. I avoided crossing the bridge. Instead, after having seen these terrible sights, I ran through the Töpfergasse [street] back to the Aussig school square. There I went into my boss Dr. N.'s surgery. Four wounded people were already there. At that moment Dr. N. came in. She herself had dragged a badly injured man in from the street. It was 70-year-old Josef Horn of Aussig, who had sustained three severe head injuries and whose throat had been cut. We took Horn to the hospital, where he was refused admission at first, and was accepted only after much begging on our part. The mass persecution of the Germans lasted until late in the evening. We heard screams and crying from every corner and street. Neither an official authority nor the Russian occupation forces took steps to curb this mass murder. Numerous Germans who had initially saved themselves by swimming out of the Elbe were shot at with machine guns. In Aussig the total number of people who lost their lives in this way was estimated at 800 to a thousand.
On July 31 the persecutions slowly abated. The Germans who dared go back into the streets had to get off the sidewalks, and were beaten if they failed to do so right away. From this time on, anyone and everyone who wore the white armband was fair game for abuse, and was treated accordingly.
I reinforce this my statement with my signature and am prepared to repeat it under oath at any time.
Reported by: Herbert Schernstein Report of December 9, 1945 (Aussig)
I was a member of the Communist Party even before the war, and spent the time from October 18, 1938 until December 12, 1945 in the concentration camps Theresienstadt, Sachsenhausen and Ravensbrück. On July 8 I returned from the concentration camp to Aussig, where the Czechs had just evacuated my mother. Despite my ID cards (Communist Party and concentration camp) I encountered gruff rejection everywhere. I was told that "Nemec jest nemec!" (a German is a German) and was denied admission everywhere. Many of my former party comrades were treated the same way despite their ID cards that showed them to be anti-Fascists. For example, my friend Willi Krebs of Leitmeritz, who had been the founder of the Communist Party in Prödlitz, had owned a grocery store, which was taken from him with only five minutes' notice, two months ago. The Czechs and Communists did not in any way stand up for us. I am also certain that there are many Fascist elements in the KPC [Czech Communist Party]. In Aussig, for example, there is one police inspector Dibisch who today pretends to be the biggest Communist possible, but who persecuted me before the war for being a member of the Communist Party.
I am able to give detailed information about the events involved in the great explosion beside the sugar refinery in Schönpriesen, where almost 1,000 Germans lost their lives, because I happened to be passing right by there on a trip from Schreckenstein to Aussig. It was the explosion of a grenade depot located beside the Schönpriesen sugar refinery, which was affiliated with a chemicals factory during the war. The Czechs blamed the Germans for the explosion and proceeded with brutal measures against them. After 4 o'clock in the afternoon members of the Svoboda garda drove all the Germans in the surrounding city blocks from their homes and hunted them en masse into the Elbe river. I saw women and children vanish under the waves. On the Ferdinand Heights Czech submachine gun positions had been set up, and from there they shot at the Germans floating in the river. I would estimate that some 1,000 Germans were killed in this manner. The Czechs proceeded especially harshly against German anti-Fascists, who were identified with red arm bands. The Czechs declared that the Germans were chiefly to blame for the events. Many Germans, for example an acquaintance of mine, the daughter of the Klinger family from Prödlitz, are still missing to this day.
Many Germans were herded into the concentration camp in Lerchenfeld, where they had to live under the worst possible conditions. The camp was later transferred to Schöbritz. There one could frequently see the yellow flag that warned outsiders of infectious diseases and meant "Caution, typhus!" In Schöbritz 300-400 Germans died of this epidemic every day. Former concentration camp inmates, among them a certain Vlcek and the Labor Service leader Cuba, proceeded with especial ruthlessness against the German inmates and by far exceeded the concentration camp methods of the Nazis, which I also personally experienced.
Reported by: Max Becher Report of December 14, 1946 (Aussig)
An ammunition dump exploded on July 31st, 1945, in a suburb of Aussig. The Germans were blamed for this and the Czechs used the excuse for an attack on them. Aussig lies on the left bank of the Elbe, and the factory where I worked, Georg Schicht-Schreckenstein, on the right bank. There is one bridge connecting the two sides. After work, at 4:30 that afternoon, we were searched for weapons both on leaving the factory and again at the bridge. Once on the bridge we were not allowed to turn back. On the Aussig end we were received by hundreds of Czechs, armed with clubs and iron bars. I received several serious head injuries, whilst my companion, a 67-year-old foreman, had his skull smashed in. I learned later that his body had been thrown into the river and washed up 10 miles downstream. Then I was told to carry the body of another man whose head had been smashed in, to a dump near by. On my return they said it would be my turn to be killed. I was forced to take off my jacket and to wipe up the pool of blood, while I was struck from all directions. I managed to get away, but a Czech followed and attacked me. He was carrying a heavy club and with it injured me severely. He did not stop until, as I suppose, he thought me dead. When I regained consciousness two Czechs helped me to a house, where the German inhabitants notified the Red Cross. I was taken away on a stretcher and was lucky enough to be admitted to the hospital at ten o'clock that night. This saved my life. The following were my injuries: 3 ribs broken, left arm broken, 6 head injuries, requiring 23 stitches. My left arm, which I had used as a shield against the blows, was so swollen that the fact it had been broken was not discovered until two months later, during the course of an x-ray examination. I stayed in hospital from July 31st to October 20th, 1945, and had to continue treatment at home from October 20th to November 19th, 1945.
As a result of my injuries I still suffer severe attacks of dizziness when I move my head and look upwards, and from pains in the ribs when doing manual labour or during changes of the weather.
Reported by: Franz Habelt Report of November 6, 1946 (Aussig)
On July 5 last year I, like many other "resettled persons", had to vacate my home within ten minutes in order to be evacuated into the Russian zone. In the process I was robbed of numerous violin parts and strings etc., which were very valuable to me, a blind musician. Thanks to the intervention of a German lady physician, Dr. Schiel, I was allowed to return to my home. On September 2 of this year, the consultant in cultural matters, Antonin Tyc, confiscated two classic violins dating from 1700 and 1866 from me. I had acquired these two violins in 1913 at an auction in Vienna. In the course of the resettlement I was deprived of my feather bedding as well as a briefcase full of the tools of my trade, which I desperately need to repair musical instruments in my capacity as piano tuner and music teacher. I have also lost all my sheet music, including manuscripts of my own compositions. These losses are a severe blow to me in my continued professional existence as a blind musician.
Reported by: Martha Rauscher Report of November 6, 1946 (Aussig)
Since the beginning of the year conferences and discussions had been in progress between the International Red Cross, the Czech authorities concerned, and the Czech hygienist of the University of Prague with regard to the transfer of the blind from Aussig, together with their relatives - both those in employment and those who live in institutions. The International Red Cross intervened with the view to obtaining permission for blind persons to take with them more of their personal belongings and property than usually allowed to expellees. The Czech Ministry of Public Health had already promised to put an ambulance train at our disposal. As a result of a counter-attack by a Czech group in Aussig, however, the transport of the blind was not able to take place in the way originally planned. Notwithstanding this, they allowed us to believe up to the very last moment that the transfer would be carried out under advantageous conditions. But in the end the responsible official at Aussig, Tyc, did not even allow the blind professional musicians to take their instruments with them, although a decree existed which stated that tools and implements professionally necessary might in general be exported. The same thing happened to the blind author Hacker, who was not permitted to take his typewriter, and to a blind professional secretary, who was refused permission to take his Braille shorthand-writer. On account of the different conferences the transfer was delayed into the cold season, but was at last carried out in just the same way as any other transfer of expelled persons, although the members of the transport had to pay the duty on goods as well as other special fees out of their own pockets, as was customary with privileged transports.
During the last months the blind expellees were in great distress - they could often not afford to
buy their daily bread ration, since they had lost their jobs as a result of the situation; in spite of
numerous requests, no financial assistance could be obtained, even though 20% had been
deducted from the wages of German workers for the support of those incapable of working. I
myself was repeatedly threatened with arrest for interceding on behalf of the blind. On October
29th, 1945, we were ordered to the camp at Schöbritz, in spite of my request that the blind
should not have to pass through
a transfer-camp. The conditions in this camp were horrible. We had to sleep on bare boards; in
morning we were driven out of the barracks at 7 o'clock amd had to stand for hours with our
luggage in the pouring rain until the transport was loaded up. Instead of the 24 wagons promised,
we were crammed into 8, together with our luggage. The greater part of our luggage had been
ruined by the rain. 30 persons with their entire baggage were put into each wagon, so that many
them had no room to sit. From Tuesday morning to Wednesday evening all we were given was
black coffee and a soup which nobody could eat, and dry bread. In consequence of the fatigues
agitation and of the inhuman manner in which the transfer was carried out, several old people
collapsed. At Wiesau two persons with nervous breakdowns and one man suffering from total
exhaustion had to be left with the hospital. At the request of the relatives, other cases of serious
exhaustion were brought to Augsburg in an ambulance wagon, which was not provided for this
purpose until the transport had reached Wiesau. Among these cases was Mrs. Witek, who died at
Augsburg, in the hospital of Government Camp B.