Gablonz / Neisse
Report No. 21
Reported by: Bruno Hofmann Report of May 15, 1950
Since January 16, 1939 we had lived in Gablonz on the Neisse. I was transferred there as deputy chief of the currency exchange branch office that had been newly set up in Gablonz; this transfer required my complete relocation from D. to Gablonz.
Since my wife and I had never been followers of the Hitler regime, and my wife had even had to answer to the Gestapo for anti-Fascist activities in 1942, we did not believe that anyone would do anything unpleasant to us.
Many of the Reich Germans who were in a similar situation as we, but most of whom had been members of the Nazi Party, left shortly before or immediately after the Russians marched in, and tried to get back to their old homes. In late May, disaster befell us. We were simply told without much ado that we had to leave Czechoslovakia within 24 hours, that all our possessions including our four-room apartment were being expropriated without compensation, but that we could take along 30 kg of luggage per person. On June 2, 1945 we had to leave Gablonz forever.
Of course we had not weighed the 30 kilos per person exactly, and it may well have been 45 or 50 kilos per person which we tried to take along on our flight. At the Gablonz train station the Czech police intercepted us. We got the impression right away that they thought they had made a good catch with respect to the booty they could take from us. This police gang was made up of about six to eight nasty-looking fellows ranging widely in age. The locals told us that their ringleader was a fat Czech former gendarme. Right away we were relieved of an entire suitcase and several valuables from a knapsacks and other bags. Since naturally I did not give anything up voluntarily, and resisted the robbery in the honest belief that it was my right to do so, the Czech police simply stood me up against a wall and threatened to shoot me if I were to resist these police measures. On my wife's pleading, and as I saw that resistance was futile, I finally submitted to everything. Due to the time that this police action had cost us, our train was already long gone. The next train to Reichenberg did not leave for another six hours, which we had to spend in the train station under guard of several so-called auxiliary policemen. When the train pulled in and we were about to embark with the rest of our luggage, one of the auxiliary policemen still snatched a suitcase with the best of our remaining things from us.
The train took us to Reichenberg. As we got out at the station, the so-called Revolutionary Guard already awaited us, and vented their fury on us. Most of the travelers got off unscathed, but we were assumed to be a good catch and so approximately 12 fearful figures surrounded us, armed with all sorts of weapons and also with heavy bludgeons, and searched us for the very last of anything we had left that was of any value at all. I had to raise my arms sideways, and while two men kept their revolvers trained on me another one searched all my pockets and other gear. They didn't leave me even the simplest things. My wife's reproach, that they should at least leave us the bare essentials for everyday use, was answered only with cudgels raised in a threatening manner. Only with great effort was my wife able to rescue the photos of our son, who had been killed in action. Though we had hardly anything left to lose now, we spent another bad night in the waiting room of the Reichenberg train station, since the many delays had prevented us from making the next connection.
About 6 o'clock the next morning our trip went on, via Bohemian Leipa and on to Bodenbach. In Leipa we had to wait for 7 hours, during which time we and all the other travelers were once again subjected to a thorough ransacking by the so-called Railway Police. But there wasn't much left for them to take from us. During our waiting time we were conscripted to work; some of the jobs we had to perform were very hard. We were forbidden to enter the station tavern and could only get well water to drink. Even though most of our fellow-sufferers were also not treated well, it was not hard to tell that the Czechs had it in for us particularly. Why - we still don't know. In Bodenbach we again had to spend a night waiting, but we were able to spend it in a school that had been set up as a refugee camp; the next morning we were able to escape yet another looting thanks to the friendly help given us by station employees of German nationality, who quickly smuggled us into the arriving train.
Robbed of everything we had, we finally arrived in D. in the evening of June 4. This civilized nation of Czechs seemed unacquainted with even the most basic needs of everyday life, for they left us not so much as a spare pair of socks or handkerchief, never mind any other articles of clothing.
Reported by: Adolf Vogel Report of November 4, 1946 (Gablonz / Neisse)
At the end of November 1945 my father-in-law, Anton Weis, a man 81 years of age, residing at Gablonz/Neisse, 18 Alpen Strasse, went to the outskirts of the forest 800 meters distant from his house, in order to fetch moss for the Christmas crib which he built every year for the children of his neighbourhood. While doing so he was stopped by two SNB-soldiers, who knocked him down, trampled him under foot and left him unconscious. The soldiers let him lie there, neither of them doing anything for him. When he finally regained consciousness, he dragged himself home with great difficulty. The doctor, whom we had called, diagnosed a loosening of the kidneys as a result of the blows, as well as other internal injuries. Two days later he died of his injuries. Nobody dared to inform the police. I am prepared to take an oath on these statements.
Reported by: Anton Nitsche Report of November 4, 1946 (Gablonz)
On June 15, 1945, Josef-Pfeiffer-Street and the surrounding suburb in Gablonz were totally evacuated within only a few minutes. In this way some 850 people were dispossessed of their homes, and this was done entirely arbitrarily, without regard for party membership or other political activity. The goal was primarily to clear out the better apartments and houses. That same night these 850 people, among them three-week-old babies and old people up to 80 years of age, were taken by car to Harrachsdorf with almost no luggage whatsoever, and herded on foot to Jakobsthal the next day. The Poles on the other side of the border refused to let us in, and so we had to spend three days and three nights camping in the woods by the border, at a chilly elevation of 1,000 m. Many people had no blankets at all. Hoarfrost covered the ground at night. The German Red Cross in Schreiberhau managed to provide us with very meager rations, with Polish assistance. These rations had been procured for us by means of so-called "spoon donations" by going house-to-house. After three days the Czechs allowed us to return to Harrachsdorf.
The next morning we were herded to Grüntal. The afternoon of that same day, we were led along the railroad track on a so-called pascher path, through the railway tunnel and back to the border. The Poles again refused to admit us, but were sufficiently outraged by the Czech resettlement methods to allow us to stay overnight in Hoffnungsthal. These were outdoor accommodations again. The next day, pouring rain made things very hard for us. After negotiating with the Czechs, the Poles led us back across the border again, and the Czechs marched us back to Grüntal, from where we were taken back to Gablonz at night by train and then sent to the Reinowitz concentration camp. We had been a week on the road like this.
The industrial workers were taken out of the camp again and made to work in the factories of
Gablonz. In this way I ended up back in my own business. Meanwhile my apartment had been
completely looted, and I wasn't able
to re-enter it. How the Germans were treated was entirely up to the whims and caprice of the
Czechs, who were ever open to bribes. Those Germans who had nothing and could give nothing
were in a very bad situation. It was the same whenever our luggage was inspected.