Report No. 330
Reported by: Marie Kuhn Report of May 15, 1950
From 1940 until 1945 I lived in Tabor, at Riegerplatz 1886. In late April 1945 I left the city and moved into a temporary home in the small town of Stepanice in the District of Bergreichenstein. I shared this home with several other German families and my apartment with the wife of the senior army doctor of the police, Dr. Bön. One day after the German collapse some 18-20 heavily armed partisans appeared in our house, accompanied by an official from the Czech gendarmerie. These partisans maltreated us so badly, with punches to the face and head and kicks to the abdomen, that the blood shot from my mouth and nose. They also used a hay fork to beat us. The partisans demanded jewelry from me. Since I no longer had any, these bandits stood me up against a tree, pressed a pistol to my chest and kept repeating their demands that I should surrender my valuables. Later on, in the same context, they threw a rope around my neck, literally dragged me down the attic stairs and hauled me to a tree to hang me. It was not until a Czech gendarmerie official intervened that they stopped maltreating me like that. On the official's orders one of the partisans flung a towel into my face so that I should wipe off the blood. In the meantime our luggage had been loaded onto a truck and taken away. We were allowed to keep only the barest necessities. For the next 10 days we were not permitted to leave our quarters. Two guards stood in front of and behind the door.
After 10 days, three Czechs armed to the teeth picked us up and drove us to Schüttenhofen to the court prison, under the pretext that we were to be interrogated. Along with 15 other people of both sexes I was squeezed into a small, cold and damp cell whose only ventilation consisted of a small hole at the top of the ceiling, which also allowed only a little bit of daylight to penetrate the cell. Our stay in this cell - about 10 days - was largely spent standing up. Only two old understuffed straw sacks were thrown into the cell, and these were not enough for the prisoners to sit, much less lie on. There was also a reeking bucket in the cell, which served as toilet and had to be emptied once a day. Our rations during these 10 days consisted only of a morsel of bread and a little water each day, and a few cold potatoes.
Several times each day the guards came by and called to one or the other of us: "Tomorrow morning you're going to be strung up!", in other words, tomorrow morning you're going to be hanged.
One evening around 10 o'clock, after a 10-day stay in this hell, we were loaded onto an open truck and driven through the pouring rain, with no protection from the elements whatsoever, about 120 km from Schüttenhofen to Tabor, where we arrived in the early dawn. After a thorough physical exam, which was performed by a female prison guard, we received a plentiful and tasty meal, contrary to all our expectations. In the afternoon of that same day we were transferred yet again. Along with 9 other women and 14 children, including infants, I was taken to the farm belonging to the widow Maria Kremencová in Ceské-Zahori, No. 10, Post Milicin, District of Tabor. Here we were to be put to agricultural labor.
We were quartered in a totally filthy and run-down, medium-sized room, and one smaller one that had served as a coop for about 80 chickens until our arrival. There were no cots or bunks, and no dishes at all, neither knives nor forks, and no pots. There was only one wash bowl for all of us nine women and 14 children. The same vessel served as salad bowl and wash bowl alike, and on the occasion of a birth it was used to hold the placenta etc.
In 12- to 14-hour shifts we women had to perform the hardest jobs, under constant guard by armed overseers. Aside from the farm work we were also put to road construction, loading and unloading entire wagons of fruit and coal, reshingling roofs, weeks of shoveling snow in the winter, whitewashing stables and store rooms, etc. Very often we were still working in the fields even by moonlight, picking potatoes and turnips.
There was no break time except at noon. Insofar as we even had any bread, we had to choke it down dry while constantly continuing to work. When we went home for the noon break, we had two hours to prepare the meal, which was no small feat considering that anything we got to eat we first had to sneak and steal from the surrounding fields, and often it was not possible to do so.
Our rations were distributed by the widow who owned the estate. She bought the food for us on ration cards and then distributed it among us according to her own judgement and discretion. Our food allowances were very scanty.
The treatment we received at the hands of our boss and her two sons was very bad. Even though we were not subjected to physical abuse, we were forever chased around and urged to work faster and treated to vile curses, so that we hardly knew what was what. We were also constantly threatened that they would hand us over to the Russians who were billeted very close by. Very often it happened that when the Russians had gone to the distillery that was part of the estate, and had become badly drunk, they came by to molest us. Thanks to the Czech still master, who was a reasonable man, we were always warned of their intentions in time so that we could hide in the nearby corn fields until dawn.
Once we had to put new shingles on a stable roof, and I was at the roof ridge where I had to catch the shingles as they were thrown to me, and pass them on. Some of the roof boards were rotten, and I broke through and fell to the floor below. I suffered a very bad bruise and was forced to seek medical help.
The saddest chapter of this life was our clothing. We had been looted down to the last rag, and almost without exception we had no change of clothes. Incidentally, we were also not issued any clothing, linen or shoes at all from 1945 to 1947. Nonetheless we had to do the hardest kinds of physical labor day in, day out, summer and winter alike, in snow and rain, and even in the winter cold of up to -34°C. As a result it was necessary for us to keep our wet clothes on at night, since otherwise they would not be dry by morning. We could not undress for the night anyway since there were no blankets. One consequence of all this was that we were inundated with all kinds of colds, pests and vermin, boils, scabies and skin rashes (there was no soap either). The skin conditions were very much worsened by the fact that we nonetheless had to go to work on the fields and spread chemical fertilizers, such as potash etc.
To supplement our clothing we eventually began to undress the scarecrows that were set out in the fields. In the winter we had to wrap old burlap bags around our legs and feet.
Three times I went to see the Czech Major who was responsible for the treatment of prisoners in Tabor, to try and find out what our legal situation was, specifically, whether we were considered to be prisoners-of-war, civilian internees, or specialty laborers. This would have determined what other conditions we could have expected, such as the duration of our work shifts, supervision by the guards, pay, rations etc. The Czech Major was of the opinion that we were civilian internees. He promised me that he would arrange for the dispatch of a control commission that would see to the appropriate changes. The delegation came, but conditions remained the same. It was not until the last few months, when there were only three of us left, that some improvements were made.
I would also like to mention that in 1945 I was already 50 years old and had undergone no less than three serious abdominal operations. Nonetheless I was forced to work with the labor gang in the fields without any sort of supporting bandage.
But I would also like to gratefully recall those who always treated us humanely during this time of imprisonment, with no regard for the danger that doing so meant for themselves. They were: 1. Dr. N. N. from the General Public Hospital in Tabor. 2. The still master of the estate. 3. Dr. N., general practitioner. 4. The businesspeople of M. 5. The gendarmerie officials serving in M. at that time. All of these people sought to alleviate our difficult fate as best they could, and in doing so especially the two doctors went far beyond the bounds of what was permitted them, by helping us not only with medication and bandages but financially as well.
The gendarmerie officials proved to be decent and kind insofar as they never "found" anything in their searches for stolen small food animals, for example rabbits - even though they would have had every opportunity to do so.
What I have said in this statement is the truth, and nothing but the truth.
Reported by: Ernst Mahl Report of August 3, 1946 (Tabor)
On August 28, 1945 I was released from Russian captivity in Tabor, and the Czech Employment Office immediately assigned me to work for a farmer near Tabor. I was treated relatively well there. On January 8, 1946, as I was having my lunch, I was suddenly arrested for no reason at all, and was then detained in the Tabor prison until May 18, 1946. I hadn't even been allowed to take any of my clothes. Treatment and rations were very bad in Tabor. About 100 soldiers were kept under arrest there, and they were constantly being beaten with rubber truncheons. Many of them were beaten unconscious and had festering wounds. At the same time, however, we had to do hard labor. Two days each week we got nothing at all to eat. From Tabor I was transferred to the Troppau prison. When I had been committed to Tabor they had taken my money from me - the wages I had earned from the farmer I had worked for - and I now had to sign a receipt confirming that I had received this money back, even though it had not been returned to me.
Report No. 332
Reported by: Anton Fleißner Report of June 5, 1946
On May 29 and 30, 1946, approximately 1,200 people from Tachau District were rounded up in the Tachau resettlement camp, a former tobacco factory, in order to be resettled [expelled] from there. At that time the camp already housed some 500 people, who had been left behind as exceeding the quota of previous transports or who were waiting in the camp for family members who were still imprisoned in the concentration camp. This district concentration camp is located on the same factory grounds. Some of these people have been waiting for 4 to 6 weeks, some even longer.
Rations in the camp consisted of a cup of coffee in the morning and evening and some watery soup at noon. Those people who had to endure an extended stay in the camp depended on the charity of new arrivals who had brought a few supplies with them and shared them with acquaintances. Whenever people outside tried to bring their relatives in the resettlement [expulsion] camp some food, they were turned away, frequently also severely maltreated and fined.
Sanitary conditions in the camp were bad. For approximately 1,700 people there were only 40 water taps and 40 toilets. The toilets were mostly plugged The people to be resettled were treated like convicts. When they arrived, their hand luggage was checked; any and all documents relating to employment, real estate holdings, bank savings, valuables etc. were mercilessly confiscated, as were ID papers and even everyday items such as better-quality razors, cigarettes etc. The slightest objection was cut off with threats of imprisonment in the concentration camp. During the inspection of the larger luggage, sewing machines (even if they were accompanied by official export permits), all objects of art, rugs, mattresses (even if damaged), jewelry, linen and crafts items were ruthlessly expropriated. Confiscation was entirely arbitrary and depended on the controlling officer's personal tastes.
Shortly before departure, every expellee was issued RM 500 as compensation, even though official regulations provided for RM 1,000. Our objections were cut off with the claim that the remaining RM 500 would be given to us at the Wiesau border crossing.
The space allotted for the transport was totally insufficient, and most of the people had to make the trip standing up. It took 20 hours from Tachau to Eger.
Reported by: Franz Voit Report of June 5, 1946 (Tachau)
I was arrested on September 7, 1945 and committed to the Tachau internment camp without being told why I had been arrested or what crime I was supposed to have committed. As I am a carpenter by profession, I was posted to a labor team on a chicken farm, a 1½-hour walk from the camp, to make windows. We were led to our work site and back every day by two guard soldiers. The guards repeatedly fired their rifles for no reason other than that they felt like it. On November 9, as I was walking back to the camp at the end of our marching column, I heard the guard soldier behind me fire a shot. I guess he had fired into the air. After another 10 steps or so a second shot rang out, and this one hit me in the right calf and shattered my fibula. I had to spend 6 weeks in the hospital. When the wound closed up I was carried into a sick-room in the camp where I remained for another 9 weeks. I did not receive any more medical care there. The doctor's request for my release into home care was refused. To this day I haven't regained the full use of my leg.
Report No. 334
Reported by: Arthur Januschek Report of November 4, 1946
I was arrested in Tannwald on June 11 last year. To extort a confession from me, I was severely maltreated seven times, twice in Tannwald by the SNB and five times in the prison of Eisenbrod. Each time I was stripped naked and beaten with rubber truncheons until I was half unconscious, and then I was shoved into a tub of cold water and my head was held underwater. My nasal bone and both my eardrums were damaged in the process. Ever since then I also suffer from lung trouble. I was released to be resettled [expelled].
Report No. 335
Reported by: Engelbert Haber Report of July 14, 1946
I was interned in the camp at Tepl on January 15th, 1946; the inmates of the camp were severely maltreated all the time. On June 25, 1946, I myself was terribly beaten. I was felling trees in the woods together with 20 other men. We were watched by four guards. These were all of them drunk on this day and while we were working they knocked us about. This lasted from 2 to 5 o'clock in the afternoon without interruption. Me they struck with rifle butts and with their fists and they also kicked me. In the course of this maltreatment I had two teeth knocked out and suffered a cracked rib.
The camp diet was so insufficient that everybody depended on what their relatives brought in.
Reported by: Josef Mayer Report of July 14, 1946 (Tepl)
On November 28
last year I was interned in the Tepl concentration camp because my 2 sons, who
had been released to Bavaria from American captivity, had come home, had each
fetched a suit and then returned to Bavaria again to where they had been released,
where they now worked. 8 days later my wife was also interned. My wife and I
were both beaten in the camp. My right ear was injured in the process. The worst
maltreatment took place in the night of
December 23-24. Many were beaten unconscious. One man sustained a broken
arm, several others suffered broken ribs.
I was released on May 28, my wife on June 4, 1946. On our release we were both
given a discharge paper stating that we had spent 2 months in the camp, even
though we had actually been imprisoned for 6 months. The first and only
interrogation was held 8 days before we were released.