SearchScriptoriumArchives indexSponsor

(Page 1 of 2)
Report No. 8
translation by Gerda Johannsen.   zum deutschen Originalbericht
Death march to Pohrlitz
Reported by: M. v. W. Report of February 22, 1951

location of BrünnI still remember very well the proclamation made by Beneš, broadcast from Kaschau two or three days before the arrival of the Russians in Brünn. I understood all he said, since I speak Czech fluently. I will never forget his solemn vow: "Woe to the Germans, woe to the Germans, thrice woe to the Germans, we will liquidate them!" It was on April 25, 1945, about 4 or 5 o'clock in the afternoon, when scenes of fraternization between the invading Russians and the Czechs took place in the streets. In the evening I returned to my apartment and was able to witness how the public rape of German women, beatings, ill-treatment and abuse brought the entire German population into a state of great agitation and danger.

The next morning all Germans had to report for work in accordance with the notices posted on public advertising pillars. I was assigned to the St. Anna Hospital, the men having found out that I was a Red Cross nurse. First I was given only the most menial tasks. Only through the intervention of a Czech physician who had been active in this hospital for a long time was I reinstated as a Red Cross nurse, but even then I was only supposed to go on duty in the air-raid shelter, a cellar to which all the German patients of this big hospital had been moved. In this cellar they lay on bare palliasses without blankets or pillows, and without any medical care. No medications were available for these patients. The cellar was only scantily illuminated by a little lamp and all I could do for these gravely ill people was to help them by applying wet rags or giving them water. Already on the second or third day of my activities in this cellar, human beings dreadfully mutilated, beaten half-dead and tortured almost to death were brought in. All I could give them in the way of assistance, however, were consoling words because I had no drugs whatsoever. The great dying began. All those who had been brought in from the Kaunitz College died almost without exception, and such cases came in without pause. I remember the following cases in particular:

The first to die was a man who had been brought in on the point of death with a horrible injury in the area of the genitals. I could not ascertain his name, as he regained consciousness only for a few moments before he died, and could only briefly reply to my question: "How did you get this terrible injury?" He answered: "I was kicked for having formerly sold vegetables to the Gestapo." With these words he collapsed and I could not elicit any further information before he died.

I also remember another case, that of Mr. Venklarczik, a solicitor, 63 years of age, living at Stiftgasse, Brünn. The man was delivered into the hospital and recounted the following incident: under a threadbare pretext partisans dragged him into the camp in the Kaunitz College and thrashed him there so violently that his back was one gaping wound. He was then forced to thank his torturers for the dreadful ill-treatment. In a semi-conscious state he was taken up to the third floor. In his panic he attempted, during a moment when he was not being watched, to bring his life to an end by jumping through the window. He was saved, however, by a lush tree underneath the window. Instead of being killed, one of his kidneys was torn loose. When he was brought in his excrement and urine were pure blood. It was not until a second German was delivered with his arteries cut through that I saw a physician for the first time in this cellar-camp full of wounded. The reason was that the man who had tried to commit suicide by cutting the arteries should be brought back to consciousness by a blood-transfusion in order that he might be executed later while conscious.

The physician, a Czech himself, examined Venklarczik, the unfortunate man, and was shocked to see the marks of the atrocious maltreatment and said, "But you didn't get this from your jumping out of the window, did you?" The seriously injured man did not dare to accuse any Czech by answering, as that would have meant the death sentence for him.

There is a further case which I remember: a saleswoman from Brünn, Wiener Strasse, had been brought in. She was about 50 years of age and completely unconscious. She was carried to the darkest comer of the basement, where a group of partisans, including a GPU-commissar, who was a Czech, ill-treated the unconscious woman. I was ordered to undress her, after which the Czech commissar intended to bring her back to consciousness with brutal kicks. I also remember that the Czech commissar then told a nun that the reason for the woman's ill-treatment was that she had stolen a Russian uniform complete with decorations. I myself was forced to give the dying woman a series of Coramin injections in order to get her back to consciousness. But all efforts were in vain, her condition was past all hope. Again and again the commissar returned, cursing her in the most inhuman manner, calling her a pig, a German sow, a German whore, bastard and so on, and giving me the order to bring her to speak by means of artificial respiration. I myself wished her nothing but a quick death, for I imagined what they would have done to her if she had really regained consciousness. It seemed that this woman had refused to allow some man to have his way with her and had defended herself. In revenge she had been dreadfully abused. However, she had had the opportunity to take poison, from which she had sunk into unconsciousness. When she died shortly after midnight, the commissar entered the basement and kicked her from the straw pallet with his boot, furious that she could no longer speak.

Let me also recount the following case of Schlesinger, an innkeeper from Brünn, Neugasse district. He was the owner of a restaurant. Among his guests had been both members of the Nazi Party and also, of course, Czechs. For business reasons he had decided to become an inactive member of the Party. On these grounds this rather weak man 40 years of age was now forced to do hard labour, in particular to carry heavy sacks, accompanied by horrible mishandlings. Since he frequently collapsed under the weight and was forced by blows to continue, he finally contracted a rupture of the wall of the stomach, having formerly suffered from stomach ulcers. After his delivery into the hospital he was operated on without anesthetic and submitted to a stomach resection. I found the man screaming and crying in my ward. He implored me to give him something to relieve his pain.

I decided, although being apprehensive myself, to ask at the Surgical Ward. Upon my arrival there I explained the case to the nun (who was about 60 years of age and the nurse in charge) and received the following answer: "I can hear him screaming but he'll get nothing from me - we don't have anything for Germans, just as you didn't have anything for us." When I remarked that during my eleven years of work as Red Cross nurse at the hospitals in Felsberg and Brünn I had never heard of a single case of a Czech to whom assistance had been refused, the nun yelled back at me: "Don't pontificate here, a German will get nothing - tell him that!" When I answered that I did not dare to tell him that, she replied that she would do so herself. Actually, a few minutes later, the head nurse of the Surgical Ward went to the basement and shouted at the patient as he writhed in agony: "You ought to be ashamed of yourself, you are a superman and roar like an animal! You won't get anything, we don't have anything for you!" The sick man clasped his hands and asked for help for God's sake. When she again refused, he said: "Then give me some poison so I can put an end to this suffering!" The same moment a partisan ran up to the bed and shouted: "It would just suit you, you swine, to take poison and so escape the gallows. The moment your wound is healed you'll be hanged. The gallows are waiting for you!" The man was in actual fact dragged away during the night of the sixth day and from what I heard from Schneider, a partisan, he was hanged in the Kaunitz College.

In order to cloak the fact that they had been murdered, it was customary to deliver persons murdered on the streets to the hospital, in the basement, so that they would be registered as though they had died in hospital.

The Death March.

April 2003 - Scriptorium comments:
It is interesting that many people who truly lived through hell deal with the experience by suppressing it. Click here to read an eyewitness account of this "Sign of the Times!"
My experiences of the death march to Pohrlitz on Corpus Christi Day included the following incidents: At 9 o'clock in the evening of May 30th, 1945, the Germans were evicted from their apartments. The whole night long, men, women and children stood crowded together in the monastery garden in Alt-Brünn (a suburb of Brünn). In the early dusk we were driven out of the garden and lined up in three columns in the yard of the monastery. A Staff Captain then arrived, together with a throng of partisans and gendarmes, and shouted: "Hand over all gold, money and savings-bank deposit-books!" Following this order the partisans, gendarmes and he himself rushed up to the defenceless women and elderly people and tore all their jewellery, money and valuables, in a word everything that seemed to be of value, out of their luggage and from the bodies of the assembled. Each of the partisans had boxes full of money, silverware and jewellery. The name of the man in charge was Staff Captain Holatko. While these scenes took place, the National Committee, presided by Matula, Chairman of the National Committee, was holding its meeting in Brünn. (Matula's wife owned a butcher's shop in Brünn; he himself became mayor of Brünn in 1945.)

The following scene took place in front of our very eyes: An old lady wearing beautiful diamonds was relieved of all her jewellery by a partisan. When the partisan tried to take away her wedding-ring, she pleaded with him not to do so, crying: "Sir, please, let me keep just this ring; it is of no value for you and it's almost 55 years since my husband gave it to me before the altar - I wish to be buried together with the ring." He replied: "You old sow, you talk like a book. Now say it all in Czech; we are living in the free Czechoslovak Republic and we speak only Czech!" and thereupon pulled the ring off her finger.

Next Staff Captain Holatko proclaimed in a loud voice that anyone on whom hidden things were found would be shot on the spot. After this a young woman pushing a perambulator with two little babies approached the Staff Captain with two savings-bank deposit-books which she surrendered with trembling hands, saying: "I wanted to keep the two deposit-books for my two small children in memory of their dead father. Since you said you were going to shoot us, I have decided to give them to you." He turned over the pages of the books, then threw them back in her face with the remark: "You mean whore, you sow, you just want to make a fool out of me!" (This is verbatim, as I speak Czech fluently.) The young woman picked up the books and whispered to us: "We are poor, my husband had only 20 crowns in each of them - and that's probably not enough for him!"

The march began. Due to the fact that the assembled Germans had had to stand in the open air all night long on the streets and in the monastery garden, many collapsed after a few kilometers. The road led towards Pohrlitz. It was a heart-rending column and the whole situation was well expressed by a desperate woman who, with her hands raised to heaven, exclaimed: "O my God, such a Corpus Christi procession as this can never have been seen before!" After marching for close on 10 miles, near the village of Raigern, those among us who, tired and exhausted, were unable to walk any further; were driven into the camp at Raigern. Upon their arrival there they were assembled by female partisans, stripped naked, and both men and women searched for jewellery and money. Their garments were literally cut in tatters during the search for hidden valuables. Countless persons were beaten to death and, according to the statements of many of those who reached Pohrlitz, finally shot. Scenes beyond all description took place on the road to Pohrlitz; especially when, in the afternoon, a terrible thunderstorm burst and flooded the ditches. The tired and exhausted marchers slipped on the soaked ground and although whipped and beaten, they were still unable to get up again. The ditches were filled with articles of clothing, bags, food, which the exhausted men and women had dropped, and amidst these lay all those who had collapsed and who finally died of exhaustion.

The majority dragged themselves to Pohrlitz, where, however, thousands died.

The column of Brünn Germans made its way via Pohrlitz towards the Austrian border; I myself reached Pohrlitz, together with thousands of men, women and children, on the evening of Corpus Christi Day. I was so exhausted that I looked for a small spot to lie down. In the darkness I came to a car repair shop, where I crouched exhausted and spent the night. All night long I heard the cries for help of women being raped; early in the morning those able to continue the march were driven back on the road with whips and blows and forced to walk in the direction of Austria. Those unable to go any further - about 6,000 persons - were lodged in the nearby grain elevators, where they camped on the bare concrete floor. Not even the seriously ill patients were given straw to sit on.

I was appointed as nurse to Barrack IV, although there was scarcely anything I could do to aid these exhausted human beings, as neither medications nor any other means were available. I was also seriously ill myself. However, as a nurse I enjoyed more liberty of movement and so came to witness the most incredible atrocities in the elevators. I still remember the first killing - a soldier was chasing a woman. He jumped over the exhausted women on the ground and in the course of the chase landed with both feet on the head of an eight-year-old girl, killing her instantly.

The second death I remember was that of a woman of about 30 years, who was lying on the concrete floor together with her two children, a three-year-old girl and a baby of several weeks. In the early morning we heard the three-year-old child crying for her mother; we then found out that the woman had committed suicide by taking poison. Her face had already turned blue. The baby was dead too, since the woman had clasped it to her breast until it too had died. A Czech gendarme asked me in passing why the woman's face was so blue. I replied that she had probably poisoned herself. He then cursed her, calling her a Nazi whore and a filthy sow for committing suicide after two days in camp; and he ordered me to "throw the sow into the latrine together with her bastard". When I protested, saying that I was a Red Cross nurse and, being bound by my oath, could not carry out such an order, even if he were to shoot me, he hurled insults at me like "German sow" and "German whore". However, he then called for three other women, whom he intimidated more easily as they did not dare to argue against his threats. The names of these women were Agnes Skalitzky from Leskau, widow of a tram-driver, 63 years of age, Franziska Wimetal, about 30 years of age, and a third woman whose name was unknown to me. These women were forced to throw the corpse of the dead mother and the dead baby into the open latrine. Partisans then ordered the inmates of the camp to use the latrine so that "the sow with her dead bastard will disappear from sight as soon as possible". And this was what happened.

Days and even weeks later the little head of the child and the arm of the mother were still to be seen protruding from the filth.

On June 18, 1945 another case of brutality occurred: the order to evacuate the Blaschek Camp in Pohrlitz was supposed to be carried out by a number of gendarmes. A woman far advanced in pregnancy sat in a squatting position on the floor together with her two small children. With her hands raised she implored the gendarme to exclude her from the transport as she was having cramps and was expecting to give birth. The gendarme shouted at her brutally: "You German sow, you'll not give birth here. You can give birth wherever you want, but not here!" And the woman was forced to leave with the transport. As she was in a most pitiable condition, I presume that she died.

I also remember a further case: the mothers of small children and babies attempted to feed their children by cooking half-rotten potatoes, turnips and dry bread to an edible mash in order to save them from dying of hunger. Since there were no cooking facilities, they built themselves a very primitive emergency outdoor stove from tiles and sheet-iron. As there was neither wood nor coal available, they looked for all kinds of things to burn, such as grass, old leather, rags, and so on. They had also secretly torn a piece of tarred felt from the roof of a damaged hut and used it for heating. A gendarme arrived on the spot and was brutal enough to ruin the painfully prepared meal for the almost-starved children by demolishing the stove with a kick. He started cursing in the foulest way, and all his insults ended with "German sow", "Nazi whore", etc.

Night after night all the women, including those who were sick and even the very old ones of 70 years of age or more, were raped. The partisans let the soldiers into the camp and the women were misused twice or more times each night. I was able to witness how a soldier decided to rape an eleven-year-old girl; the terrified mother tried to defend her daughter and finally offered herself to save the child. The soldier beat her until she bled, but she still held the girl tight. I intervened when the soldier threatened the mother with his revolver. Since I speak a little Russian, I was able to reproach the soldier and so he finally left her alone. The desperate woman now did all she could to hide her child against another attack. Shortly afterwards the partisans called out for me and I had to obey and went to the door. There I was turned over to the same man, who dragged me to the sugar refinery, where I was raped by 5 Russians. When I decided to commit suicide and looked for a means of doing so, I became witness of the suicide of an old married couple. Both together hanged themselves in an empty elevator - the same one in which I lay in a state of complete exhaustion. I saw how Czech gendarmes robbed the dead couple of their documents and valuables and then tied a slip of cardboard around their wrists, on which they wrote in Czech: "Unknown, without documents!" This was the custom with all those thousands who died there. 60 or 70 persons died daily in the camp, the bodies being deprived of their shoes and frequently also of their garments; the corpses were piled in a heap and lay in the sun for hours covered with blow-flies. In front of the huts men and women on the point of death or dying from starvation lay on the grass, likewise covered with fly maggots. These unfortunates were given no food at all; they had only what they had brought along or dug out of potato-stacks. The cause of death in most cases was therefore hunger typhus. One of the huts was arranged as a sickroom. The hygienic condition of this room are best illustrated as follows: the patients lay on rotten straw already defiled by those suffering from typhoid fever. Instead of a privy a mason's cement-mixing bucket stood in the middle of the room as a latrine. This was so insufficient that it overflowed every day; the patients were supposed to empty it themselves, but they were unable to do so. An unbearable stench hung heavily over the room which was swarming with flies, lice and fleas. In spite of this no efforts were made to master either the contagious diseases or the vermin. In this sickroom a nurse named Schubert was in charge of everything. She herself boasted in front of witnesses of having dispatched more than 2,000 Germans to the other world and said that she certainly deserved Czech citizenship for her work. It seems that she was a native Czech, but had married a German. She had many Czech relatives to whom she sent jewellery and valuables which she had taken away from the unfortunate German patients or from the dying. The jewellery of less value she gave to the partisans. A principal witness of the sickroom-conditions described above is Mrs. Engelberta Höllriegel from Brünn, wife of an engineer, who confirmed that on June 12, 1945, besides those 60 to 70 persons who died daily, 56 patients had died in the sickroom before noon. She called June 12th "our black day". Mrs. Höllriegel assisted in the sick-room, without being a qualified nurse. Her husband as well as her son had been murdered in the notorious Kaunitz College.

Mass graves had, of course, been established around Pohrlitz. The corpses were buried only a few inches below the surface, so that very soon a smell of decomposition could be noticed everywhere. The newly arrived Czechs now began to protest; they said, "we don't want to have these German swine around here, they infect the entire territory and spread epidemics." It was therefore decided that on June 18 the sick persons and the mothers with children (most of them almost starved) were to be taken away in carts, while the others who were still capable of work were kept in the camp for another day. This transport of patients was led up to the Austrian border, into the so-called no-man's-land. Arriving there, the unfortunate people were left in the woods, in the flood region of the Thaya River, and abandoned to swarms of mosquitoes. Nobody knew of these people's presence there; and almost all of them starved to death and were only found when their corpses were already bloated or eaten up by mosquitoes. These incidents are said to have been filmed and shown in movie theatres in England and the States. At any rate the manager of the estate of Neuhof near Grafendorf, one Antonin Šafář, told me of this several months later. His report culminated in the exclamation: "These Austrian swine have made a fine mess of things for us!"

An individual case remains in my memory. Mrs. Kopřiva from Brünn had died of hunger in the camp at Pohrlitz, her daughter, Hermine Kopřiva, about 38 years old, went insane as a result of starvation and raping. When I reported this to the gendarme, he asked her a few questions which she answered in a confused and wandering manner. Thereupon he remarked that she was good enough for work; and in fact this woman left together with me and many others for Grussbach on June 19th, where we were distributed as labour slaves to the various estates and farms. Notwithstanding her pitiable condition she was forced to do hard labour.

The manager, who had newly been imposed on the estate by force, was a man named Antonin Šafář; the name of his 25-year-old assistant was Miroslav Tvrdík. The latter was a real brute, of whom even the manager was afraid. The following remark was characteristic: "You German swine! You'll have to work here; those unable to work will get starvation rations for 48 hours twice over, so that they'll kick off; those fit for work will have to do hard labour until they'll kiss the ground!" He acted as he had promised. Almost all of the patients died, whereas those able to work did hard labour until they were completely exhausted, as almost none of them were inured to agricultural work and the related fatigue.

Another characteristic remark was that of Dr. Skrašek from Grussbach. When he entered the stable in which our people lay on rotten straw, seriously ill and half-starved men and women, the doctor shouted out from the door: "What am I supposed to do with you? I have nothing but animal charcoal! You are a people who have lost the war and you must not expect to be handled with kid gloves!" That was all he did for the patients or for the exhausted prisoners! It was only when I appealed to him to get us some delousing powder - for we were molested to a terrible degree by lice and fleas, as well as by mice and rats which had gnawed our shoes and garments - did he agree to do so. The menace of the rats increased so much that they ate up our last bits of food before our eyes.

On June 19, 1945 German farmers from Grussbach were ordered to pick us up in the camp in Pohrlitz early in the morning and to take us in their carts to Grussbach. Shortly before Grussbach we passed an alley with cherry trees. The trees were loaded with ripe fruit; it was no wonder that we longed for some of the cherries after the torture of starvation we had endured. The farmer, who drove us, noticed our thirst and promised that he would gather some fruit in an unwatched moment from his own cherry trees which we should have to pass on the road. This indeed he did when we passed his property. But the moment the farmer tried to give the cherries to us a gendarme noticed it, drew his leather whip and lashed the farmer so violently over the face and the head that the weals left by the whip immediately began to bleed. He exclaimed: "You German pig, if you dare to tear down even one more cherry I'll shoot you down like a mangy dog." The farmer replied that he wanted to take the cherries from his own trees, not for himself but for the hungry women and children, and pointed out that the trees and fruit in question were his own property. Thereupon the gendarme cried out: "You German swine, once this belonged to you, now it belongs to us!" Mrs. Skalitzky, Mrs. Wimetal and Miss Hermine Kopřiva and some 15 other persons, whose names I do not remember, were on this transport together with me.

At the Neuhof Estate near Grafendorf.

In consideration of her illness Mrs. Emilie Kurz was appointed by Antonin Šafář, the manager, to work in the kitchen. She suffered from a serious disease of the glands and was inclined to dropsy. She was barely able to stand on her feet, but could still do sedentary work in the kitchen. At the end of June 1945 the new potatoes were harvested. In the course of an inspection by the commandant of the camp, a young man of about 30, the following incident took place: I was called from the fields to accompany the commandant on the inspection. He only visited the quarters of the German forced labourers. On this occasion he saw Mrs. Kurz sitting at the table in the corridor and husking vegetables. He at once yelled at the woman, asking her why she did not work in the fields. "Please," she answered, "I am ill and I have therefore to do this kind of work!" He then shouted like mad, "Get up when you speak to me!" The 63-year-old woman attempted painfully to do so and was shouted at all the more: "You miserable German sow, you dare to tell me that you are ill! I'll tell you what is wrong with you, you have eaten too much meat and butter stolen from our wives and children. Off to the fields with you, on the double!" The ill woman dragged herself to the potato field, but could not pick up the potatoes normally; she crawled on her knees behind the plough, picking up the potatoes and crying with pain. The commandant stood by the manager, gloating over the suffering of this unfortunate woman. When the commandant had left, Šafář, the manager, had pity on her and told her to go back to the kitchen. He realized that she was really incapable of doing this work.

Although we were doing hard labour our food rations consisted only of the following: unsweetened black coffee without bread in the morning, potatoes cooked without salt, fat or spices at noon, and black unsweetened coffee again in the evening. Next day we would be given beans without salt at noon, and as third variant, peas without salt cooked in water. This order of succession repeated itself for three weeks. We never received any bread. Finally we were given ration cards and the meals improved a little bit; we received bread and 70 g of margarine per week, that is 10 g per day (one third of an ounce). Small wonder that almost all of us showed symptoms of hunger typhus, which already had begun to break out in Pohrlitz. During the commandant's inspection I was asked about the disease of which a man lying in the stables was suffering. When I replied that the man was suffering from hunger typhus, he shouted at me: "Don't tell me such nonsense, the haemorrhages are produced by the friction of the intestinal membranes." "Well", I said, "that is hunger typhus; it does not happen if a man has enough to eat"; whereupon he insulted me in the lowest manner.

In my capacity as a former Red Cross nurse I had also to do Samaritan services at the Meierhof, to register the dead and to bury them. I still remember the following persons as having died there: Theodora Maria Moczinsky from Breslau, 58 years old, a two-year-old girl by the name of Krista Hoffmann, furthermore Raimund Bernatschek, 65 years of age, and his wife Franziska Bernatschek, née Schlosser from Zebrovic near Brünn, Rudolf Nejeschleb, an engineer, born at Stockerau - the wife of the last-named had already died in Pohrlitz - Mr. Karl Kurz, a salesman, born in 1879 at Mährisch-Schönberg, Ludwig Spitzer, retired business representative, born in 1876 at Brünn, Maria Hloucha from Brünn, born in 1885, who died on September 8, 1945, and Anna Douba, widow of a Navy Captain, 58 years of age. All the aforementioned persons died of hunger typhus or exhaustion, however, I was ordered to write down as cause of death: marasmus = weakness of old age, including the two-year-old child. In my memory this girl was as though dried up, her tiny hands resembled the feet of a water bird, for the skin between her fingers was quite transparent and like a web. It seemed that the little child had been given almost no food for weeks or at best only the same food as the grown-ups.

In my capacity as a sort of controller for the hard labourers in the farms of Neuhof, Karlshof and of the factory-yard of the sugar refinery in Grussbach, I experienced the following: I met a young woman who approached me with her arms spread and greeted me with tears. I did not remember her, for I had shared in the fate of thousands of Germans up to that time. The woman, however, reminded me of our being together at Leskau and thus revived my memory. On the occasion of President Beneš' arrival at Brünn all Germans had to leave Brünn and I as well as thousands of others were sent to Leskau. Together with 59 other persons, namely 52 women and 7 children, we were locked up in the lumber room of the badly damaged Military Recreation Home at Leskau. I still remember the manner in which we were inspected by a gendarme in this room. He ordered that any member of the official staff should be greeted by the inmates by standing at attention. A young 15-year-old girl played with a baby and smiled at the child. This enraged the gendarme so much that he commanded the girl to come to him, reviled her terribly and finally led her away, notwithstanding the appeals and protests of her mother. The mother fainted because she could imagine what would happen to the child. The girl did not return until the morning of the next day. She had not only been raped but also most brutally beaten so that she was unable to utter a single word and remained lying on her stomach, trembling and groaning, for several days. Her back and legs were covered with terrible wounds.

I was also ordered to report all new cases of disease to the guards. The very next day a young woman told me that she was seriously ill. She had frequently been raped by Russian soldiers and had contracted gonorrhea. I took the woman to one of the guards and reported the case. The guard referred us to an official of the Sanitary Board, who was expected to visit the camp in the afternoon. We waited, and I then reported the woman's disease to this official. On his question how I had been able to diagnose the disease as being gonorrhea I declared that the woman had been raped and that the symptoms were a sign of gonorrhea. Thereupon I had to listen to the lowest insults, he threatened me with shooting and called me a German whore, bastard, sow and so on, and said that nobody knew where this German whore had picked up her infection. I replied that I would not assert positively that the disease was gonorrhea, since the diagnosis would be the task of a physician. "I'll send this bastard under escort to Brünn. But if your story proves false and it is merely a trick because this German sow wishes to get into Brünn, knowing that our President is there now, I'll have you both shot!" The woman was never sent under escort to Brünn, nor was she attended by a doctor; but, in spite of her condition, she had to do hard labour at the Farm of Karlshof near Grussbach. There I met her in a pitiable condition, for the disease had already reached a dreadful stage. The disease in question was Asiatic gonorrhea.

Before the Germans were locked up there, Russians had been lodged in the camp at Leskau mentioned above. The conditions of the camp were therefore indescribable. There was no corner which had not been used as a privy, the entire implements and dishes, plates etc. were either smashed or filthy. The built-in wardrobes had been used as latrines, whereas the latrines themselves were destroyed. We were only supposed to have been sent to the camp at Leskau for three days, that is, for the time President Beneš stayed at Brünn. Beneš, however, stayed for two more days and our tortures were lengthened by the same period. Since we had only taken food for three days, everybody began to feel hungry. The mothers of children particularly began to look for food in the ruined rooms. Under a heap of fragments they found three 5-liter-glasses filled with marmelade. The contents of these glasses had been spoiled by the Czechs in an exquisitely brutal way for the hungry Germans. The surface of the marmelade had been lifted off, the glass filled with human excrement and then covered again with marmelade. The starving children, in spite of the stench, tried to eat the marmelade and soon reached the disgusting contents.

As to the sanitary conditions, the situation may be shown by the fact that none of the inmates of the camps had taken off their garments, either during their 5-day stay in Leskau when President Beneš had visited Brünn, nor for those 19 days in Pohrlitz, or during the months in the Forced Labour Camp at the Neuhof estate. It is understandable that diseases and vermin were spreading.

When I returned from work the 25-year-old assistant, Miroslav Tvrdíc, ordered me to come and to bring along a thermos bottle as he did not feel well. This was certainly an excuse, for he intended to rape me. Since I defended myself, the assistant tore off the piece of cloth I had wrapped around my head and discovered that I had tied up three pieces of jewellery in the corner of the kerchief. I was then raped several times by this man in the course of the night, the jewellery, however, he left with me, knowing that it would be taken away next day as a result of the search he would order to be carried out by the partisans.

At about 4 o'clock in the morning of the following day Tvrdík entered our room together with a number of partisans and ordered a search of all the inmates of the camp, still lying on their palliasses. Whoever was unwilling to surrender his last possessions of jewellery or valuables was threatened with shooting, while the partisans waved their revolvers in the air. Even those seriously ill were not spared, they were brutally torn from their beds, their garments violently pulled off, and after this, thoroughly searched. On this occasion each one of the inmates lost his very last belongings. A married couple by the name of Zach is still in my memory. There were taken away from them a platinum watch with diamonds, the man's golden watch, and several other pieces of jewellery of less value. The same happened to Mr. and Mrs. Spitzer, another married couple. The woman who had been really badly off was a certain Mrs. Kadera, a poor and crippled woman. All she had in her possession were a few Czech crowns. She lost not only the small amount of money but also the purse. Mrs. Kadera is now residing in Vienna.

At the point of death Mr. Nejeschleb, an engineer, was deprived of his last valuables which he had hidden in a linen-bag hanging around his neck. Two days afterwards he died. The plundering of the dying man was carried out in the most brutal manner; he was thrown out of his bed and the straw upon which he had been lying was searched too.

Since the manager endeavoured to treat the inmates correctly he was especially persecuted by his assistant, who, after the former had given us permission to go to mass in the chapel at the Farm of Emmerhof, exclaimed: "This swine of a manager will certainly end up as a collaborator in a concentration camp." All the inmates had the impression that the manager himself wished to be just, but that he had to carry out inhuman orders from above.

In December I received an order from the manager to register all the inmates of the camp, since they were supposed to be transported to the castle of Grussbach. This castle had a very bad reputation, for no end of people who had starved to death were buried there.

I was finally able to save myself from this miserable situation by escaping to Austria. I owe this rescue to a priest, who not only took care of me but also of all the other refugees and relieved our sufferings. He is now living in Austria after he, too, had been delivered into the concentration camp at Znaim, in spite of his illness, probably on account of the help he gave us.

The escape across the border was exploited profitably by a Czech, who exacted the highest payments for his help in crossing the border. He demanded garments, jewellery, money and split the valuables with the manager of the Trawinghof estate. Both turned the misery into a lucrative business.

previous pageTable of Contentsnext page

Documents on the Expulsion of the Sudeten Germans
Survivors speak out