Klösterle and Kaaden
Report No. 228
Reported by: Josef Jugl, forestry official
On the evening before Whitsun 1945 a friend warned me that my arrest was imminent. To avoid it, I fled the same day to relatives living nearby in the Erzgebirge (Ore Mountains). But already the next day, on Whitsun, my mother came to see me and told me that my father had been arrested by the Czechs, as hostage, and that he would be shot if I did not surrender myself voluntarily. With that trick they got me into their power. On the way home Mother told me how it had all happened. Since the Czechs didn't find me, they took Father instead. He had just been doing gardening chores when the Czechs arrived. Since he was only wearing a shirt and trousers he wanted to quickly put on a jacket, but he wasn't allowed to do even that. Amid crude curses they yanked the radio from its place and shoved it at my father to carry. My grandparents, who begged for mercy for my father, were pushed around and threatened that they too would be arrested. After the Czechs had once more threatened that my father would be shot if I did not turn myself in, they left the house. I arrived at home on Whitsun evening. Since curfew had arrived by that time, I decided to report the next day. I did so on Monday morning. At the "Národní Výbor," where I reported, I was briefly searched by Czechs who had been employed as civilian workers in my home town during the war. They took various items from me, such as my wallet, ID papers etc. Then they took me into the basement of City Hall, where I was locked into a cell. One of the guards admonished me not to commit suicide, since that would be cowardly, as he put it. The cell was small and contained only a few things. Off to one side there lay an old straw pallet, and a few benches were piled up opposite it. In the corner behind the door stood a bucket that still contained my predecessor's excrements.
The time passed incredibly slowly, and minutes turned to hours. Since I could hear the City Hall clock strike I always knew what time it was. After about two hours, keys rattled outside the door and the bolts were pushed back. Two men in green uniforms entered, making a great deal of noise. Since they spoke not a word of German I couldn't make any sense of their yelling. In the assumption that they had come to take me to an interrogation, I headed for the door. That very instant they yanked me back, dragged my hands up and began beating me with leather belts. They also feigned that they would shoot me; barely had they left, when renewed stomping and rattling announced more visitors. This time it was an entire group of men, who regarded me hatefully. One tall, broad-shouldered man was particularly conspicuous in this group. He was the one who began the following interrogation. I had to answer his questions with lightning speed; as soon as I hesitated even for a second he swung his leather whip. I was not allowed to give explanations of any kind, so that I could mostly say only yes or no. I was accused of having been a werewolf, even though not a single shot had been fired by civilians anywhere in our entire region. With horrible threats he tried to force me to make a confession, but as yet I still had the strength to resist these accusations.
This is the only way that, for example, instructors from the Hitler Youth Organization's Bann Education Camp in Kaaden could have been made to testify that they had actually trained the students in their educational programs to be werewolves. This resulted in many totally innocent boys being arrested and put to great suffering. One method that the Czechs favored was to play one prisoner against the other. If they were willing to make accusations against each other, they got off more easily, but woe to any of them who dared deny the Czech allegations. For example, Mr. Otto Hammerschmidt from the Zuflucht suburb of Klösterle was badly maltreated because he had declared that I was innocent.
But now back into the cell. After the interrogation had failed to bring the desired result despite all attempts at intimidation, they broke it off, after telling me that I would be taken to the main prison in Kaaden. Again, hours passed. In the evening the Czechs even gave me a bag with food and a blanket that my parents had sent. Hardly had I finished eating before the guards returned to pick up the bag. They rummaged through it and noted that there was no knife among the cutlery. I tried to make them understand that my parents had not included a knife, but they wouldn't believe it and so they searched the entire cell. Since they absolutely could not find anything, I was searched again. They took almost everything I had, even my little pocket comb. When I asked them to at least let me keep the comb, they gave it back to me with the remark that I'd better not use it to scratch through my carotid artery. Before they left the cell they urged me to simply confess to everything when I was interrogated again. When I told them that I had nothing to confess, they took on a threatening demeanor. When this made me so upset that I had to throw up, the Czechs finally left.
I was left in peace during the night, and was also not harassed very much the following forenoon. But there was no food or drink to be had. I wasn't hungry anyway, but all the more thirsty. Around noon they got me from my cell. I had to keep my hands raised as they herded me, with blows from cudgels, to the market square, where I had to get on a vehicle loaded with loot. Aside from myself and many Czech soldiers there was also another German on this vehicle. Since it seemed that not everything was ready yet, we had some time to take a last look at our town. Suddenly, in the distance, I saw my sister approaching to bring me some food. But the Czechs did not let her near the vehicle, so that she had to make her way home again, mission unaccomplished. Later she told me that the Czechs had turned her away with the words, "he's not getting any slop for a while." Hours passed before the vehicle drove off. In Meretitz the ride was again interrupted, and we two Germans were taken into the former "Sumag" where we were again interrogated. My compatriot was fortunate - he was let go. As for me, they tried again to intimidate me with threats, but when that did not succeed I was put back onto the vehicle, which now drove on in the direction of Kaaden. But this had by no means been the last stop; we stopped outside almost every house along the road. The soldiers rushed in and looted to their hearts' content. They were especially eager to appropriate any alcohol they could lay their hands on. The result was that soon they were in the midst of a great booze fest. The soldier sitting to my right kept dropping a box containing some items he had looted, and since I helped him pick it up he grew increasingly friendly towards me. He asked me how old I was and why I had been arrested. Half way between Klösterle and Kaaden he advised me to jump off the truck and run for it. I hesitated, suspecting a trap. But he said to me: "Kaaden prison bad, you still young". Now I was convinced of his honest intent, and there was no stopping me; in only a few minutes the sheltering forest had taken me in. In Kaaden they waited for me in vain. Later I found out from acquaintances that my name had repeatedly been read out at roll call in the Kaaden prison, of course without anyone answering.
It would have been extremely dangerous to hide out at home, and so I decided to seek shelter with some acquaintances. Then, when house searches became more and more frequent, I could not hide there any longer either. So I went into the woods. One day the Czechs observed my 15-year-old cousin carrying food into the woods. This resulted in his being arrested, right along with my uncle. Since my cousin remained steadfast despite all abuse and stuck to his story of just having taken some food to a man who was returning home from abroad, they were ultimately released again, but from that time on they had to report to the Národní výbor every day. With that, the time of suffering had come for them as well, since beatings were the order of the day there. So now I could no longer stay in my homeland without endangering all those who helped me. On July 10,1945 I managed to cross the border, after having been shot at by a Czech patrol only the day before.
Report No. 229
Reported by: Karl Sandner Report of December 5, 1945
In Kohling and Schindelwald, two towns in Neudek District of the Sudetengau, ten men were shot after the unconditional surrender of the German Reich. These men were arrested by the Czechs, and maltreated. They were beaten bloody. In one case a picture of Hitler had been found in a closet when the man in question was arrested, and the Czechs forced him to eat it [the photo]. The ten men were arrested on a Monday (I no longer recall the exact date) in Schönlind, Neudek District, and were to be taken to Neudek on Tuesday. In the truck, which was manned all round by Czechs, they had to lie on their stomachs so that the townspeople wouldn't see how they were being maltreated. On the way to Neudek a Czech motorcyclist came towards us and issued different orders. They drove back to Schönlind again, and that same evening they had to dig their own graves. Wednesday morning, around 5 or 6 o'clock, they were shot after all. Their kin were forbidden to visit the grave, and were chased away by the Czechs standing guard there.
Report No. 230
Reported by: Erna Zicha Report of June 26, 1946
My son and I were arrested in Prague on May 9, 1945 and imprisoned first in a movie theater and then in a school. On June 4 - a day on which my son was so badly beaten that his back was bleeding - we were sent to Kojetitz, near Prague, to work on the estate of one Mr. Vávra. 104 Germans, primarily women and children, were forced to work there. Our treatment was very bad. Even though many people fell ill, there was no medical care for us. In the beginning, an average of two people died each week of debilitation or due to the lack of medical care. Children died of diphtheria, and there was no care for them either. We had only those clothes that we had worn at our arrest, and due to the hard work to which we were put they quickly wore out, and were not replaced. The poorly-dressed people had to work on the estate even in sub-zero temperatures. I had to load manure onto a cart and spread it on the field in -26° C [-15° F] weather, without gloves and in shoes so torn that my toes stuck out. At work many were beaten with a stick by the administrator. Miss Elfriede Schulz from Berlin, who had been raped and was now pregnant, was beaten on the lower back with a pitch fork. Mr. and Mrs. Diehl were beaten so badly by the farmer Melwal that they turned to the police for help, which they were denied.
I have a severe heart condition, but nonetheless I had to do hard labor for 10 hours every day. Despite the hard work our rations consisted only of two cups of unsweetened black coffee, some watery soup, and 125 g [4½ oz.] bread per day. By October our number had been reduced to about 90 - the others had died. We were housed in a shed, and later in small rooms of 9 sq.m. [97 sq.ft.] for groups of 8 of us. Even in winter we received no blankets, nor was there any heating. We barely had the means to wash. All winter long, men and women alike had to wash at the outdoor pump in the square. There was also no warm water or tubs for doing laundry. As a result everyone had lice, and many got scabies, abscesses etc. There were people who were literally being eaten alive by worms and lice.
One almost 70-year-old woman who was totally debilitated and could no longer even get up was taken by the Czechs and laid onto an open cart in the yard, where she died miserably. My husband had been in Russian captivity and had lost three fingers on his right hand in an accident in the mill where he had to work, and as a result the Russians had released him, but the Czechs imprisoned him in Brünn-Zidenice, Malá klaidovka, and refused all requests for his release even when I was being resettled [expelled].
Report No. 231
Reported by: Ernst Hahn Report of August 29, 1946
In June 1945 I and another 200 or so people from Neudek District, all between the ages of 13 and 80 years, were assigned by the Neudek Employment Office to a 3-week harvesting job in Kolin. From Neudek we were transported off in railway carriages, with normal occupancy. The train also included a carriage with Czech guard personnel. When we passed the American zone checkpoint in Chodau the transport was stopped by the Americans. The guards had vanished. In Komotau the guards, who had by then reappeared, chased us out of the carriages and penned us into two freight cars secured with barbed wire. That's where the maltreatment began. Clothes, linen and watches were all taken from us. When we were unloaded in Kolin the civilian population threw stones at us, spat at us, cursed and kicked us, and the guards not only tolerated this but even joined in. Systematic torture began in the internment camp Kolin. Confessions were to be extorted from us. Especially the children were threatened with pistols and with red-hot nails until they gave the desired statements. They were forced to write farewell letters to their parents and were totally worn down in every respect. One man was hung overnight from the eaves trough by his hands, which were tied behind his back, and then beaten to death the following day. Another man, Flasche by name, who was from West Germany and had been evacuated to Neudek, died a similarly horrible death. His genitals were kicked to a pulp.
Rations were so poor that everyone had dropsy, and legs bursting open was a common occurrence. There were several deaths each day, the consequence of malnutrition and maltreatment. Nonetheless we were forced with rifle butts and rubber truncheons, steel cables, whips etc. to do hard labor. Many collapsed and died while at work. After a temporary and barely noticeable improvement in late fall, the unbearable conditions resumed even worse at Christmas and went on for months. In May I was suddenly declared to be a prisoner of war, and was transferred to a different camp.
I can take this statement on my oath.
Reported by: Anton Kragl Report of June 27, 1946 (Kolin)
I was ordered to compulsory labour service for a whole year in the camp at Kolin. At first the camp had almost 700 inmates, among them juveniles aged 13 and up. The food was so bad that many developed swollen legs and open sores. Nevertheless they had to work and were often struck with fists or rifle butts. About ten men died of malnutrition. No wages were paid. Among the inmates were men with five children, who had been taken away from their families. They could not send money home, as they earned nothing. Everything, including clothing, was taken away from us on our arrival. Our work clothes had to be sent from home. When we were released we did not get back the things which had been taken from us. About 140 men were still in the camp when I was released on June 9th, 1946.
Report No. 233
Reported by: Antonia Stanek Report of June 26, 1946
I was employed as agricultural
laborer with a Czech innkeeper and farmer in
Komoschau near Prague. One evening in February of this year, while listening
to the Czech news on the radio, I commented that one need not believe
everything one hears. At that, my employer's wife jumped up and said that I had
no say in anything at all, that they had seen just by looking at my son that he
had a large fortune on him and that he had surely stolen it. I asked her what she
knew of my son. She replied that my son was buried on this farm and that her
husband had wanted to tell me from the start. I asked her why they had killed
him. I was told: "Because he was a German, and we have the right to kill any
German we want to." The next morning the farmer said to me: "If we had
known how indispensable you would become to us, we would have kept him to
work for us as well." His mother then told me that a German had been beaten to
death in the farmyard last August.