Report No. 121
amputee killed with his own crutches
Reported by: Eduard Kaltofen
I, Eduard Kaltofen, was born on March 15th, 1921 at Bergesgrün, in the district of Brüx, Sudetenland, my parents having been born at the same place. In 1941 I was called up for the Luftwaffe; in 1942 I was ordered to the Russian Front on reconnaissance. At the same time my father was enlisted in the gendarmerie and ordered to Yugoslavia. I was twice wounded, the last time at Kitzingen by American low-flying airplanes. Because I was no longer fit for military service, I was given my soldier's pay book and advised to try and reach my home as soon as possible. I left the hospital on April 28th, 1945, and walked in the direction of Salzburg and Linz. From Linz I went to Budweis and Prague by goods-train. I reached Prague on May 4th, and on May 5th I arrived at home without any difficulty. I stayed with my family and my mother for three days; we did not know where my father was stationed. On May 8th the Russians arrived, but they only stayed for two days. Ukrainians visited our house and looted it. Whatever they liked they took along, underwear, dresses, watches, chains, even the small amount of food we had. Most of the flour and sugar was spread about the streets and wasted. Murders, homicide and rape were common. The Russians were followed by the Czechs but nothing changed. The first Czech military group called themselves partisans; some of them were dressed in the German uniform of the Africa Corps, but the majority wore civilian clothes. They were equipped with machine guns, carbines and pistols. 8 to 10 partisans would enter German dwellings, loot them and rape women and girls. During the night this Czech elite troop - as they called themselves - shot women and men of all ages; men were cruelly tortured and killed, while women and children were forced to watch. At the neighbouring village of Bruch all men and boys were driven together and beaten with whips and rubber tubing lined with copper wire, until all were wounded and their wounds bleeding; afterwards they threw salt and pepper on the wounds. On May 10th it was my turn. Civilians seized me on the street and took me to the so-called Národní výbor (National Committee). Without being accused of anything, I was imprisoned for 8 days. There were 8 men in a cell. 3 men were shot the first night and replaced by others in order to fill the narrow space of our room. The windowless room was so small that we could not get enough oxygen to breathe properly. We lay on the ground, almost unconscious and next door to suffocation. Latrines were not available, we had to use a corner of the same little room. Only the following day were we allowed to relieve ourselves in private. The cell was never cleaned. Every fourth day we received some water and 100 g of bread with the remark: "You German bastards should die like rats, a bullet or a rope is much too good for you." After 8 days of imprisonment I was released, but 6 days later I was again put in jail. I was destined to see again the same cell. They ordered me to undress and to stand against the wall, then I was whipped by two men until my back bled. Afterwards I was struck so heavily on my head with a wooden club that I lost consciousness. When I came to, I found myself lying on the ground in a pool of blood, together with four other comrades who were in the same condition as I. Soon after the sentry entered the room and asked us if we were well and if we had any wishes. We replied that we would like to get washed and bandaged up, but we did not dare to ask for some food. He then started laughing and said that he would be right back and that he himself would wash and bandage us. It was not more than five minutes before two partisans and two civilians entered the room and thrashed us till we fainted. On the third day 20 of us were taken to the jail of Oberleutensdorf by the criminal police, where we were told after the first corporal punishments with whips and copper cables that none of us Germans would ever leave the jail alive. All Germans, they said, ought to die. We had not the slightest doubt that these words would come true; our only desire, which we also expressed to them, was that they should hang us. The answer to our request was more laughter.
I spent four weeks in this jail. Day and night we were knocked about every hour or two; we no longer had any feeling in our bodies. In this condition we were forced day after day to dig the mass graves. Even at the cross-roads we had to bury those who had been tortured to death. German men and women were buried in fields and woods so that the mass graves should not become too large. The second week a 16-year-old boy was thrown into our cell; he was beaten by the partisans until he scrambled to his feet, unable to endure the pain. With that his fate was sealed; he was shot down in front of us, there in our cell. In the course of the very same night we heard shots five times, each time in a different cell. Next morning we had to bury five of our comrades in the mass grave; they had been beaten and then shot with automatic pistols.
These things went on for four weeks, day and night. We only looked forward to release from our tortures. In the fourth week those of us who had survived, beaten up beyond all recognition, were rounded up in the yard of the jail. We were lined up in rows of five. There were 20 men, among them workers, salesmen, doctors etc.; leading officials of the NSDAP or the military forces were not among them, since these had already fled before the revolution or had been shot by the Czechs shortly afterwards. Not one of the 200 men assembled was conscious of any guilt, but they had to suffer for being Germans. We had to run at top speed for nine kilometers (5 miles) to the jail in the county town of Brüx. There everything was a little better; we were still struck occasionally, but not to the same extent. We were employed in the hydrogenizing works at Maltheuern, which were lacking in skilled workmen. Our diet consisted of one cup of coffee daily, 100 g of bread and a watery soup at noontime. I spent two weeks in this jail. But we were soon to find out that something even better was in store for the Germans. Camp 28 was established, the Czechs called it concentration-tábor 28. We were transferred from the jail at Brüx to this concentration camp. The inmates numbered 1400 men. In this camp we were again mistreated in the most inhuman way, each Czech who wished to vent his fury on a defenceless German was permitted to enter the camp and use the lash for as long as it pleased him. The more he tortured us the greater was the satisfaction of the guards. Indeed, the guards themselves were continuously going up and down our ranks and striking us in the face with rubber truncheons; we were often kicked so violently that we lost our balance and fell.
One day a group of a 100 Germans was brought into the camp; first of all, all their possessions were taken from them (tobacco, wedding rings, money, watches, bread), they were deprived of absolutely everything and the guards fell on the booty like wild animals. One of the group was a veteran on crutches, who had lost one leg in the war. This man was beaten with his own crutches until he was left lying dead on the ground. Several days later all prisoners had to line up behind the barracks. Thirty meters [about 98 ft] distant there was a sand pit. By this sand pit stood the commander of the camp, addressed as "Velitel" (commandant) by the Czechs. To his right there were 4 Germans holding their coffins in their hands. First two of them were shot in the neck and then the other two. We were forced to witness these executions. During this time hundreds of Germans were murdered, being shot in the neck; each night we heard the sound of shots at the sand pit. There was no end to the transporting of corpses out of the camp. We were outlawed and treated as slaves. Any Czech could do anything he wanted to us.
Via a German comrade, who was still at liberty, I received a word that my father too was in the hands of the Czechs. Eight more days passed and I was released; the Czech criminal police certified that I had been a member neither of the Party nor of any of its affiliates, but had only served in the German army. I was therefore permitted to be reunited with my family after nine weeks of imprisonment. I collected information about my father. He had been in American-occupied territory behind Karlsbad, where the gendarmerie was being demobilized. Through refugees from our village he learned that I had been taken prisoner by the Czechs, he therefore returned home. At the small town of Einsiedel, situated in the Erzgebirge, he was captured by partisans. They struck him with clubs and rifle butts, then they tied him to two poles, forming a kind of ladder. One Wenzl Bervid, who was the son of a German mother, then fastened this contraption to a motorcycle in such a way that my father's head and shoulders touched the road, after which he drove for 2½ hours to Bergesgrün at a speed of 10 kilometers per hour. When they arrived there, in spite of his pitiful condition, my father was beaten again, his teeth were knocked out and his face was disfigured to such an extent that he was unrecognizable. Afterwards they took him to the jail of Oberleutensdorf. Beaten, dirty and suffering from wound-fever, they left the unfortunate man alone in a cell. The following day he was ordered to help in the demolition of tank barriers. Since this work was too much for him and he was quite unable to do it, the guards knocked him down with the butts of their rifles. Only after this was the Red Cross informed and asked to pick him up. A Red Cross nurse recognized my father and sent me the following report: "Your father was beaten and disfigured in the most dreadful manner, not a single part of him but was bruised all over, his teeth were knocked in, his eyes bloodshot, his skull fractured by the blows of rifle-butts. Half an hour later he was cleaned and bandaged and with great difficulty was brought back to consciousness. Unfortunately he was not in a condition to answer questions and relapsed again into unconsciousness. Only when he came to for the second time was he able to collect himself. His first words were: 'They've knocked me silly', then he asked for something to eat, but he could take no food, for his mouth was too badly bruised. His next question was, if his son were still in prison?" Since the nurse wanted to spare his feelings, she told him that I was already reunited with my wife. Although his features were twisted with pain, a happy smile crossed his face on hearing this answer and his words were just audible: "Now I can die in peace."
On June 8th we received the written notice from the Národní výbor
(National Committee) that my father died on June 7th about 7 o'clock in the evening in the jail
that we should have to pay
RM 159.-- for the coffin and the transport of the corpse. Through the German coroner, who was
still living there, we found out in which mass grave my father had been buried. We left some
flowers on the grave, but the Czechs threw them away the next day. Sentries were constantly in
cemetery, watching the Germans at their work. To pass the time the sentries fired at tombstones
and graves. Anyone who approached the mass graves was struck and driven away.