Report No. 291
Reported by: Dr. Rudolf Fernegg Report of June 21, 1951
The son of the owner of the firm of Bendix at Qualisch near Trautenau lived in the United States of America during the period of the "Third Reich". Even though he was an American citizen he was not permitted to take over the factory [after his return].
Report No. 292
maltreatment, May 1945 to November 1946
Reported by: Margarete Kaulfersch Report of June 16, 1950
On Sunday, May 13, 1945, Czech partisans entered our home, rummaged through chests and closets, threatened my husband and me and held pistols against our necks, ready to fire. Two communists who had probably been alerted by all the noise arrived, and managed to make the partisans leave. My husband was a coach builder by profession, and he worked from morning till night. The next day another horde of looters came into our home, and one of them ordered my husband to go from house to house and see to it that all German-language signs and inscriptions on the houses and streets were removed. They left our house, not without first indulging in some nasty threats. On Tuesday I saw how a gang of partisans surrounded our house, and since it was locked, they broke the door down. My husband wasn't there with me. On the assumption that this horde perhaps wanted to ask me something, an acquaintance offered to go into the house with me. I had to sign a paper stating that my husband had to report to the Mayor's Office, and that if he failed to do so, I would be arrested. But they took me along with them right then and there, just to make sure. My husband was informed of the order by an acquaintance, and we met again at the community office (Národní výbor). We were not even questioned, but he had to get into a truck along with Emil Scheffel, who had also been ordered to report there, and that was the last I ever saw of my husband. 14 days later some acquaintances told me that he and four fellow sufferers, among them Scheffel, had been beaten and tortured to death, after they had first had to dig their own grave. I later had an opportunity to speak to the doctor who had issued the death certificate. I asked him to tell me more - he refused, and said, "Remember your husband the way you knew him when he was alive."
Our house was totally looted. I stayed with some neighbors until I had to join a transport that took me to forced labor in the Czech regions. At first the cattle car dropped us off at an estate near Turnau. The entire transport was housed in a large barn. During the day the Czech farmers came to choose the most promising workers. We were put on display like livestock at the market. After three days I and 11 other women were the only ones left. After the first night two girls had to be taken to the hospital after being severely raped. A guard gave his word that "nothing like that would happen again."
I was glad when we were taken away on the fourth day. We were taken to Sychrov into a beautiful building that had served as a youth shelter during the war. This shelter was now a gathering point for the Czech partisans. We had no opportunity to notify our relatives, nor to receive news from outside. The food we got was very bad, and not nearly enough. Our first work assignment was washing toilets, all day long. I had to throw up, and began to have diarrhea. A young doctor who realized that I had contracted stomach typhus and feared that I would infect the others asked an older doctor, his superior, to send me away. But this angel of mercy only said, "The Germans have to work." Finally they let me go home. One of the partisans barely took me as far as the Employment Office in Turnau. It was a well-known regulation that Germans were only permitted to use the train under Czech escort, but I was sent off alone. I had been gone for four weeks. When I got home I was allowed to move into the smallest room in what had been our own house.
Four weeks later, when I was still utterly exhausted, a Ukrainian informed me that I had been ordered to resettle [be expelled]. I collapsed; when I came to again, I found myself lying in bed, and he was sitting by my feet. He wrung his hands and said, "I beg you, I don't want to be a murderer!" He left to fetch my neighbors, and ordered them not to leave me alone. Then he returned with officials from the národní výbor. Dr. Köhler was called, and he diagnosed a nervous breakdown.
In November 1946 I was resettled [expelled].
Report No. 293
Reported by: Friedrich Merten
The little, remote town in Northwestern Bohemia in which I had worked as teacher at the local elementary school for more than 20 years lay between the two military fronts: about an hour away in one direction were American troops and at about the same distance in the other direction were Russian divisions. Instead of the Americans, whom we expected, the Russians arrived first.
These Russians were armed civilians, who drove through our little town in smaller or larger vehicles of Russian construction. They were led by Russian officers on horseback and showed good discipline. No deeds of violence were committed during their first passage. Those who began the plundering were Polish and Ukrainian drivers and servants, who had fled together with the people from Silesia. These men took the weapons which German soldiers had thrown away on their march through the town some days before and, under a leader of their own, they began a reign of terror. The first Russian division had scarcely left the town when the first lootings began. The looters committed their excesses mostly at night. During the day - remembering the various proclamations over the radio - everybody went about his work, but everyone feared the nights. Unexpectedly, assistance was rendered by a Russian officer, who drove through our town on an official trip. One of our fellow-citizens, who was of Czech descent, laid before the Russian officer the request of the population for protection. The officer disarmed the commander of the plundering gang and shot him with his own hand. On the proposal of my fellow-citizens this officer installed me as mayor in the town hall ("You are mayor!"). I was later confirmed as such by the Russian command.
First of all I saw to the establishment of peace and order in the little town. The example which the Russian officer had made still had its after-effect. The French PoWs (Prisoners of War), who had worked with us since the end of the war with France and who were on good terms with the population, offered to establish a police corps, which was later on also joined by British PoWs. These former PoWs armed themselves with weapons and put a stop to the plundering. I would like to stress my appreciation of the attitude of these former prisoners of war. The little town became an island of peace, everybody was able to do his work unmolested. The population recognized the former prisoners of war as their protectors.
I succeeded also in getting going the supply of the most necessary foods, so that nobody had to starve.
Meanwhile a Czech National Committee ("Národní výbor") was established by the few Czech residents, who permitted me to perform my duties as mayor under their patronage. Even when in June 1945 a Czech commissar was installed, I still remained as mayor - although it was merely a title without any powers and my functions were limited to keeping the routine work going. The commissar was a decent and honest man. Since he was a stranger in this place, he quite often consulted me and paid attention to my suggestions. He was ordered to carry out the cruel measures against the Germans, decided on by the Prague Government, but he did so in a very considerate way. I remember quite well when one day this man brought the first transfer-order from the district town and directed me to make up a list of the so-called intelligentsia of the town. From the first moment I was clear about the meaning of this order. The commissar, whose name I prefer to pass over in silence, was of the opinion that various unpleasant things were to be expected. "Whether these measures will be for the best," he said, "I really don't know, but nothing can be done about them."
Although the measures were supposed to be kept secret, I was unable to conceal them from my friends. At the same time proclamations were posted up, saying that the Germans had lost their Czech citizenship and that their entire property would be confiscated on behalf of the Czech State without compensation.
In the meantime refugees from the neighbourhood had arrived at the homes of their acquaintances and relatives or had come to our peaceful valley on their flight. They brought with them the first alarming news concerning the expulsion of Germans from their apartments, the shootings and the hunting of German women and girls.
A Czech military division was quartered in our town. For each of the soldiers a bed with white sheets had to be made up in the Turnhalle (gymnasium). On June 22, 1945, shortly after lunch, the soldiers, led on by an officer, marched from one apartment to another, belonging to those persons who were on the expulsion-list. The officer handed over the order for expulsion and demanded first of all the surrender of all valuables. A guard remained in each house. In the evening the first column of expellees was formed; to begin with they were taken to a camp in the neighbouring town and, after they had been robbed of everything by the inspecting officials, they had to march to the border.
In spring 1946, after a quiet interval during which many of my fellow-citizens dared to hope for a change for the better, expropriations and expulsions began again.
Report No. 294
Reported by: Josef Horbas Report of October 6, 1946
I am 15 years old and an American citizen. My mother has resided at Pittsburgh in the United States of America since 1937 and has been an American citizen since 1944. I myself lived with my aunt at Setzdorf. In August 1945 I was summoned to appear before the municipal council; when I made known my American citizenship I was imprisoned in the local detention camp and was transferred to the coal-mine of Radwanitz the very next day. Only when a letter from Washington arrived at Radwanitz was I released. The months in the coal-mine were a time of unbearable suffering for us all. Notwithstanding our youth we were forced to work as hard as the adults, namely 8 hours underground in the mine and then several hours above ground. We had to get up at 3:30 in the morning and never got [back] before 8 o'clock in the evening or even later. For several months the food consisted exclusively of chopped turnips. Many of the workers died. Usually three to four a week. There were cases of cruel torturing every day. On our way to as well as from the coal mine we were forced on the way to perform strenuous exercises. Often we were so exhausted that we could hardly stand. In the evening we frequently had to [run on the] double several times around the barracks.
Reported by: Josef Langenickel Report of July 1, 194[7?] (Radwanitz)
I was in the internment camp at Radwanitz near Mährisch-Ostrau from August 27th, 1945 to August 13th, 1946. The inmates of the camp worked underground in the "Hedwig" and "Progress" pits. After a shift of 8 hours underground one had to work an additional 4-5 hours above ground. Our first holiday was Easter.
Treatment and food were bad. Corporal punishment was introduced officially. Even while working underground we were beaten by the Czech miners. On account of malnutrition production was going down. Everyone who failed to accomplish his full quota was beaten by the guards. The beatings took place in the cellar with the doors locked and was carried out by a special corporal punishment squad of 6-8 men. Many failed to survive the malnutrition and ill-treatment. In November Josef Kremer collapsed and died while marching from the pit to the camp. When anyone reported sick, he would be beaten. Johann Weinert died of malnutrition on March 7th, 1946; he was forced to work up to his last breath. On November 11, 1945 I myself received a severe thrashing in the manner known as the "Dreischlag" (characterized by blows in a triple rhythm, delivered by several persons), because I was quite unable to work by the reason of complete exhaustion and swollen legs. It was not until February 1st, 1946 that I was given some easier work above ground. In the camp letter-writing was forbidden. The possession of a pencil was not allowed and was punished with cruel maltreatment.
Report No. 296
Reported by: Franziska Hübl Report of June 15, 1946
In July 1945 my daughter-in-law and I were in our barn and we happened to find two pieces of leather from a drive belt, about 12 inches long. We assumed that these two strips of leather had been left behind by a trek that had spent more than two months with us, and had left behind many other things as well, such as irons, neckties, slippers etc. In January 1946 we had to get some shoes re-soled at the cobbler's, but he had no soles. I remembered the two pieces of leather, and took them to the cobbler. But the cobbler didn't fix our shoes right away, as he was very busy. In March my daughter-in-law and I were taken to the community office. Commissar Petr showed us the two pieces of leather and asked us where we had got them. Before we could even begin to explain, the Commissar beat us. First I was led into a separate room, where he hit me in the face and about the head with his hand, a belt and a dog whip until I was suffused with blood. Then my daughter-in-law was beaten in the same way. This was repeated three times. As the consequence of this maltreatment my daughter-in-law suffered a miscarriage.
Report No. 297
Reported by: Alfred Porsche Report of June 20, 1950
On March 26, 1946, after members of the Local Committee of Grünwald on the Neisse had looted my luggage, my family and I were imprisoned in the concentration camp Reinowitz. As the very first thing, even before the delousing, everyone had to report to the camp administrator Václav Vostrák's office and hand over their savings bank books and all German and Czech cash.
In early April, transports to the Reichenau camp were being assembled. We were told that from Reichenau we would be sent to Germany. The members of the individual transports were called out by name in the yard. My turn came on April 10, 1946. On that day or the day before - I don't recall exactly - the members of these transports were called into the office opposite that of the camp administrator, to sign something. Everyone wanted to get away from there and so they hastened to comply with the order. I took a closer look at what was pre-printed there in Czech for us to sign. Most of my fellow prisoners did not understand Czech, and signed without knowing what the paper said. It was a statement to the effect that we had received our confiscated funds (savings bank books and cash) back. It goes without saying that these valuables were never actually returned to us.
Report No. 298
Reported by: Josef Willkomm
The eviction of the Germans from their dwellings in 1945 was carried out irrespective of their political background. Even persons who were known as anti-fascists and who were in possession of anti-fascist certificates, issued by Czech authorities, did not get back their property.
In those first days after the 8th of May 1945, a Czech who had always resided at Riegersdorf took over provisionally the management of public affairs. By the time it was our turn to be transferred [expelled], the tenth provisional mayor within the year was already in office. He was the first honest and competent one of the lot.
In all cases where Czech families had not moved in at once [into the German homes], the apartments had been looted on the same night on which we had been expelled and the contents had been sent by truck into the inner part of Czechoslovakia.
Simultaneously, bad times also began for the anti-fascists. When I in my capacity as the Czech-speaking confidant of the Antifa (anti-fascist organization) went to Czech offices to discuss the problems of our members, I was first of all shown a picture of five Germans who had been hanged as an intimidation that the same would happen to me, if I asked too [many questions] or if I should help Nazis. My wife and I had also been driven out of our little house and had been put into a miserable flat, where what clothes and linen we had left were gnawed by rats, which also crept over our beds at night.
When I finally obtained an ANTIFA-certificate from the Czech officials and attempted to get back some of our household furniture, they simply laid a pistol onto the table and maintained that it had been found in my house - although in fact I had never owned one. They then told me that if I did not give up all claims to my property, they would immediately arrest me.
The very moment that we Social Democrats of North Bohemia had signed an agreement for our transfer [expulsion] to Thuringia and I had received the necessary papers for 69 families of our community so that we were ready to leave, the Czech commissar blocked all the roads out of our village and - going from one house to the other - began to weigh the 30 kilos of luggage allowed per head. This went on for several days. Beatings occurred, in consequence of which one young man died. He had attempted to protect his wife from insult. Some of the women had to undress completely and were molested by drunken Czechs. All this was done to German workers by Czech Communists!
Since the transfer to Thuringia had been frustrated, we had to look for another territory to which to be transferred. This was Hesse. We went through a hard time. Although we were acknowledged anti-fascists, we were treated in just the same way as the Nazis. Our wives had to work for Czech families or on farms, either for nothing or for a piece of bread. The men had to do heavy labour in the woods or elsewhere for 50 Hellers per hour [approximately 5 Pfennigs or 1 Cent].
There was always some special work to do on Sundays, for instance cleaning the latrines, clearing the little stream or collecting scrap iron etc. Every third Sunday, which was supposed to be free, all persons of more than 14 years of age had to report to the town-council, stand in a long row, in order to be taken to the movie theatre under police escort. There we had to pay an entrance-fee, three times as high as the normal one, but all they showed us on the screen were Hitler's atrocities.
German workers were sent into the inner part of Bohemia in open coal carts, in order to work on farms or in industry.
When we were about to be transferred to Hesse in July 1946 we had reason to be glad that this tenth provisional mayor for the first time was a man of sense. I was able to save various things for a number of families as well as clothes from the house of my parents-in-law, who had died in the meantime, for my wife and myself.
Before I was transferred to Germany I visited Prague five times, in order to get the exit and luggage permits from the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Finance, so that several persons should be allowed to take along their bicycles, sewing-machines, radios and similar articles.
My sister and her husband with their two daughters and [our] 84-year-old mother could leave Czechoslovakia for Germany only in April 1950. My brother-in-law worked in the mines for two years. After this they all had to work on farms. They were lucky in that the owner of the estate was a good and honest man. When they took leave of him, he wept and said: "You are leaving us now, but what will become of us?"
I was the local representative of the Social Democratic Party at Riegersdorf, in the district of Tetschen, for 14 years till 1938.
Report No. 299
excerpts from the publication "Riesengebirgsheimat"
Hermannseifen: June 29, 1945, shot while the entire community had to watch: Andreas Pohl, master butcher; Franz Pohl, his son; Josef Gaber, master baker; Josef Stransky, barber; Alois Struchlik, laborer; by the verdict of the Commandant of Arnau. Frau Pohl committed suicide by hanging.
Mastig: June 1945, shot in front of the entire community: Nittner (from Hohenelbe); Stephan Rzehak, mayor; Josef Gall, master spinner; Josef Tauchmann, company representative of the Mandl factory; Anton Jochmann, railwayman; shot by Czech soldiers from Arnau and the Národní výbor.
Vordermastig: May 1945: Josef Schröfel, innkeeper, committed suicide by hanging, his wife took poison when their estate was looted and occupied.
Grossaupa: Hugo, tortured and shot in the cemetery (details unknown).
Keilbaude: Braun, innkeeper, killed.
Schüsselbauden: Raimund Kraus and Johann Hollmann shot by partisans.
Hütten-Witkowitz: the merchant Herbert Schier's father- in-law [executed?], while Rudolf Schier died in the Jitschin prison.
Harta: June 1945. Five people were horribly beaten.
Theresiental: June 1945. Alois Baruschka maltreated and shot.
Jablonetz: September 8, 1945. Schimmer died in Karthaus-Jitschin after severe maltreatment (arrested on May 9, 1945).
Mastig: May 1946. Alfred Kuhn, beaten to death in Jitschin.
Spindelmühle: Alfred Fischer, senior teacher, murdered in May 1945. Hans Buchberger and his mother, shot in Trautenau in May 1945, his father Vinzenz (innkeeper of St. Peter's) is a prisoner in the uranium mine of St. Joachimsthal.
Arnau: Josef Rumler and his wife Marie, née Petrik, were brutally maltreated on June 18, 1945, and then shot. Heinz Soukup, Eichmann's attorney, executed on June 10, 1945. Erich Kowarsch, brewery employee, shot or beaten to death in early June 1945. Many committed suicide by taking poison (Iwonsky, the family Schenk, Melichar etc.).
Klein-Borowitz: June 18, miller Linhart and his wife arrested in Arnau, beaten and tortured in Eichmann Cellar, then taken to Mastig on June 21 and shot in the presence and on the orders of the Czech Commandant of Arnau, Wurm, from Horschitz.
Ponikla: May 9, 1945, herdsman [shepherd?] Anton Wenzel arrested, taken to Hochstadt, maltreated. Knappe, Mayor, executed in Starkenbach (town square).
Jablonetz: engineer Schirmer and others, taken to Semil; Hirte, who had also been taken there on May 11, slashed his wrists.
Rochlitz: Fritz Seidel from Oberrochlitz arrested in May 1945, taken to Starkenbach in January 1946, then to the Hrabatschow camp, has been missing ever since.
Zittau-Neuhammer: on this stretch of road some 60-80 prisoners of war were killed by the Poles because they were unable to keep up the pace set for this death march. Many Sudeten Germans from Lauban were among the victims. The march led via Sagan to the Jaworczno camp near Auschwitz, where they all had to work in the mine and where (by August 1947) 18 had died, 1 had committed suicide and 1 had been shot while trying to escape. Many of the victims were from the Riesengebirge [Sudeten Mountains].
Kukus: mid-May 1945. Ginzkey, educator from Reichenberg, brutally beaten, died of the consequences. Petrak, senior educator from Seidenschwanz, and Karl Schneider, senior gardener from Graslitz, beaten and then shot behind the railway yard. Alois Slaboch, civil servant; Eusebius Areyczuk, Ukrainian greengrocer; both beaten and then shot in the Stangendorf quarry. Frau Slaboch cut her throat.
Gutsmuts-Arnau: Wilhelm Pradler, construction supervisor, and his wife Maria, shot on June 23, 1945 in Proschwitz in front of the Elbemühl [mill]. Slanderously denounced by: Amler, Nossek and Schiefert, as well as a Czech from Proschwitz.
Schwarzenthal: Julius Gall, senior teacher, and Franz Baier, senior forester, arrested in June 1946, missing ever since. Hubert Wawra, administrator in Mencik, murdered in Hohenelbe. In total, 17 inhabitants of the town have been reported missing; the other 14 are: Franz Munser, master dyer; Franz Kröhn, from Mencik; Franz Kröhn, farmer; Josef Ettrich, coachman; Franz Seidel, carpenter; Wenzel Seidel, mailman; Maiwald, master saddler; Johann Kraus, master dyer; Josef Kraus, in Mencik; Oswald Renner, telephonist; Wonka, farmer; Josef Schneider, quarry laborer; Josef Langer, office employee; Edi Klust, master weaver.
Lauterwasser: January 24, 1946. Johann Zirm, policeman, hung in Jitschin.
Polkendorf: Johann Sagasser, 1946, suicide. Franz Erben,