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Mährisch Ostrau
[Moravian Ostrau]

Report No. 44
translation 
by Victor Diodon and Arnim Johannis.   zum deutschen Originalbericht
Arrest, expulsion, death march
Reported by: Rudolf Schneider Report of June 14, 1950

location of Moravian OstrauMy family and I lived in Moravian Ostrau for many years. My children, and I too to some extent, attended the Czech school there. I was not a member of the Nazi Party or any of its formations or organizations (except for the NSV [National Socialist Welfare Organization; Scriptorium]). In late March 1945 my wife and 14-year-old daughter were ordered to leave Moravian Ostrau, and they went to Aussig on the Elbe, to stay with some relatives. As railwayman (I was a conductor) I was not allowed to leave my position, and did not want to either, as I always got along well with the Czechs and never discussed politics and only lived for my work. Besides, I speak Czech perfectly and served in the Czech army, and I may say I served well, for I made it to the rank of NCO in the "Hranicársky prapor c. 3" in only two years.

But things turned out differently. On April 30, 1945 the Russians came. I was arrested by the Czechs and turned over to the Russians. After a week (and it was a difficult week) the Russians released me, as no charges could be proved against me. I was not able to return to my home, as by that time it had already been occupied by one of the sons of my best Czech colleague (Josef Nowak). His wife had immediately notified the Czech bandits, the so-called partisans, that I had been released, so that they were at the ready to arrest me again right off the street and put me into the concentration camp in Moravian Ostrau-Oderfurt (City Hall). While in this camp I wrote a petition to the Národní výbor. In this camp I was robbed of everything the Russians had left me, including my clothes and underwear, and I was given an old shirt and trousers instead. That was all. We had to work very hard in this camp, even at night. For the first time we got no food at all; I lived on what I found in a garbage can while working. It's unbelievable, but true. Later we got a cup of fish soup once a day, but neither bread nor potatoes. Consequently many people died in this camp, and neither a doctor nor a priest was allowed to visit us. We had to cart the dead away to the Oderfurt cemetery and bury them like dogs in one corner. After work we had to join the guards in the yard to sing and parade-drill, and were beaten bloody while doing so. The Czech police (Commandant Sergeant Prokop) watched these atrocities with evident pleasure.

Then my wife and daughter returned from Aussig in late May 1945 and I was told by some Czech acquaintances that they were in the concentration camp "Mexico". I was not allowed to go see them. On June 12 we were "invited" to volunteer for field work, and we were assured that we could take our families with us. And so I volunteered myself and my wife and daughter. My wife was brought to our camp that very evening, but unfortunately without our daughter who was ill and feverish and staying with some Czech relatives. We were allowed to go to town for two hours to procure some food and clothing. But in the evening, once we had cooked the food, it was all taken away from us and the Czech police had a good time with it until next morning. On June 13 we were herded to Silesian Ostrau, onto a sports field, where we were searched. Many were dragged aside and beaten, and stripped of their clothing and shoes. And after that the march began, on foot through Hultschin, Troppau, Jägerndorf. We were marched for three days, hunted along by Czech soldiers, without any rest. Most of us were women, children and old men. We got no rations whatsoever on the way. Anyone who collapsed was shoved into the ditch, regardless whether it was a woman or child. "Chcípni, nemecká kurvo!", that's all we ever heard. On June 16, 1945 we were chased into the forests outside Neustadt (Upper Silesia) and robbed of even our last meager possessions by our Czech escorts. But the area was already under Polish occupation. We had no identity papers and could not even prove that we had been expelled by the Czechs, and so we could only sneak on at night. Later the Poles did not pay much attention to us any more. Since we had no papers or money, we worked our way on the various demesnes.

Aside from many people whom I did not know, my following acquaintances lost their lives on this death march: Fröhlich, senior Reich Railroad inspector from Oderfurt, buried in Bärndorf (District Frankenstein), and engineer Schiffner from Witkowitz, who lies buried in Libenau (District Frankenstein).



 

Report No. 45

translation 
by Victor Diodon and Arnim Johannis.   zum deutschen Originalbericht
Inhuman brutalities
in the Hanke concentration camp in 1945

Reported by: Ernst Schorz Report of June 24, 1946 (Mährisch Ostrau)

location of Moravian OstrauOn August 27, 1945 I was taken to the concentration camp in Peterswald near Moravian Ostrau, probably on the instigation of the Czech administrator of my estate. In the camp a medical exam found me unfit for work in the mines, and I was sent instead to the brickworks camp in Moravian Ostrau. On our way there we were all beaten and kicked. In the camp I was assigned to a burial detail, and had to do this work for three weeks. During this time we had to take the prisoners who had died in the camp to Palatzky Cemetery and bury them there. In the course of those three weeks I had to take approximately 200 bodies to the cemetery, where I also saw the dead that had been brought from other camps. Most bodies came from the Hanke camp in Moravian Ostrau. Usually these bodies had also been mutilated. There were many bodies of women among them. These were buried at the cemetery, but dug up again three weeks later and burned in the crematorium. On his deathbed my friend Krischka from Klantendorf near Fulnek told me the following, which he himself had witnessed: in the Hanke camp his wife, 8 months pregnant, had to stand naked against the wall and was bludgeoned on the stomach until the fetus aborted and she herself died. Krischka, who had spent a long time in the Hanke camp, also told me that he had witnessed how a woman, with her hands and feet tied behind her back, had been hoisted up a wall and how both her breasts were then cut off with a knife.

I myself was grossly maltreated in the brickworks camp, like all the inmates there. All the teeth on my right side were knocked out, and my hands and arms were sprained. The camp leader urged that the two guards who had maltreated me should be punished, but at the hearing the judge declared: "He's a German, they should have beaten him even more."



 

Report No. 46

translation 
by Victor Diodon and Arnim Johannis.   zum deutschen Originalbericht
The Hanke concentration camp
Reported by: Alfred Kutschker Report of August 3, 1946 (Mährisch Ostrau)

location of Moravian OstrauI had to spend from early June until August 16, 1945 in the infamous Hanke camp in Moravian Ostrau, where I and all the other inmates were stripped on our arrival of everything we had, even clothing, underwear and shoes, so that we were completely naked. We were then thrown some rags to dress in. Like everyone else there, I was beaten daily - 120 blows. Every day we were choked until we passed out. Six people were beaten to death before my very eyes, among them Langer, Miesner, Konetschny and Kron. Then I had to spend a month in the District Court of Moravian Ostrau, where we were ordered to dig up the bodies of German soldiers and to throw them into the garbage pit of the cemetery of Silesian Ostrau. From Ostrau I was then transferred to the Troppau prison, where I was discharged on July 12th of this year without ever having been given a trial. I have nothing left at all any more to call my own, beyond the clothes on my back and what some acquaintances gave me. My deportation luggage weighed all of 20 kilos.



 

Report No. 47

translation by Gerda Johannsen.   zum deutschen Originalbericht
Severe ill-treatment and murder of prisoners of war
Reported by: Heinz Lapczyna Report of January 10, 1947 (Mährisch Ostrau)

location of Moravian OstrauI was released from Russian captivity on the day after Christmas, and against the advice of the Russian doctor I went to Czechoslovakia, since my wife and my child were living there. I finally arrived at Mährisch-Ostrau via Petrowitz-Pomil. At Mährisch-Ostrau I made inquiries as to whether my relatives were still at Budweis. I and my three comrades were thereupon arrested by two Czech policemen, who put us into the police jail at 2 o'clock in the morning after we had waited for three hours. There were 60 men of us there pressed together in a cell 10 x 20 ft. As there was no ventilation, the air was exhausted within a few hours, so that we had to fight suffocation. The prisoners included the former Landrat [head of the administration of a district] of Mährisch-Ostrau, various engineers, and schoolboys 14 to 16 years of age. The last-named had to work in the mines, in pits with 8% gas. In the prison we received two thin slices of bread and half a liter (1 pint) water-gruel per day. In the camp people were often called for trial and returned afterwards badly maltreated. In order to extort confessions the interrogators thrust red-hot needles under the nails of the persons being interrogated, until the victims collapsed from the pain. They then attempted to bring the victims back to consciousness by hitting them with rifle butts or by other abuses. When this failed, they were simply thrown back into the cell, where they remained without nursing or food only to go through the same torture the following day. Another method of extorting confessions was to beat the victims on the bare sole of the foot until the skin burst. In order to make them suffer a little more the men would have to kneel for several days until they fell unconscious. The daily greeting was: "Has any German swine kicked the bucket?" and if such was not the case: "Then we'll have to lend a hand!" Witnesses to the aforementioned cruelties are: Stanislav Kaminonka, also Jan Blaha and Walter Schmidt.

I was finally released after some weeks, but in spite of my serious injuries I was sent to the internment camp near Mährisch-Ostrau. At that place it was the commandant's custom to chase the women internees through the yard in their nightgowns every night.

Everything which we had still in our possession was taken away. Terrible cruelties also took place in a camp (Hanke-Lager) at Mährisch-Ostrau. 20 men would be shut up in a little room and ordered to sing Fascist songs, and afterwards they were clubbed to death with fence-posts or hanged. At the daily orgies of the sentries women and girls had to serve at table completely naked and were afterwards raped. The elder women were killed. Witnesses to these obscenities and cruelties were: Rudolf David and Albert Liebner.

On March 12, 1946, I reached Kutiny near Brünn, where I was interned for the second time. There were other camps at Dolní Lotška and at Kuřim. I myself remained at Kutiny. All these camps also had cellars in which the more unpopular Germans had been shut up and slaughtered. We were allowed to write only a postcard of 15 lines once a month; this almost never reached its destination. I therefore wrote a letter, and was locked in a cell for 20 days for this offence. Every second day we received 1 pint of water-gruel. The bread intended for us was sold by the guards among themselves. We never received any of it. We were lashed with short lengths of steel cable until we could scarcely stand on our feet. Although I was weakened by many operations on my foot and had to walk on crutches, nobody took this into account. Another form of abuse was that we were ordered to strike each other with wooden boards, in which there were rusty nails; if this was not done to the full satisfaction of the guards, they showed us how to do it, but in such a brutal way that nobody was able to stand on his feet afterwards; they practised their boxing techniques on us and also knocked us down with their carbines. I suffered all this for twenty days. Only when we were already covered with blood and lying on the floor would they stop for some hours, but only to start again after this interval. Our cell resembled a torture chamber. The floor was a pool of blood and the walls were splashed with it up to the ceiling.

There were other methods of extorting confessions: a tube would be forced into the victim's mouth and the other end fixed to the water-tap. Or: we internees had daily to run the gauntlet between lines of the guards; these were armed with whips and scourges, with which they struck us - the best runners were the lucky ones. Going on crutches, I was so badly knocked about that I always ended up unconscious on the ground.

Even the churches at Mährisch-Ostrau and Kutiny were barred to Germans. The German relatives of a deceased person were only allowed to go as far as the gate of the graveyard. They were not allowed to visit the grave. According to my wife, the graves of the Germans were also broken into and robbed, the objects of desire being gold teeth, jewellery and so on.



 

Mährisch Schönberg
[Moravian Schönberg]


Report No. 48
translation 
by Victor Diodon and Arnim Johannis.   zum deutschen Originalbericht
Severe maltreatment in the prison
of Moravian Schönberg, February-March 1946

Reported by: Hans Wisur Report of June 21, 1946

location of Moravian SchönbergI was arrested in Stubenseifen, District Moravian Schönberg, on January 28, 1946 and taken to the court prison where I stayed until March 7, 1946. There, like all the other prisoners - some 700 of them - I was severely beaten every day, with lashes, fire pokers and rifle butts. One gendarme had a special technique which he liked to use on us. The inmates had to take their shoes off and were then pounded on their toes from above with the rifle butt until blood shot out from under the toenails. In the yard there was the so-called "Separation", a small building where the gendarmes on guard duty would take arbitrarily selected inmates for maltreatment, as night-time entertainment. In the morning you could see the trails of blood left in the snow where the badly injured inmates had been carried out.

On March 7 I was transferred to the Troppau prison. The first week I was beaten so badly there that I lost consciousness. Beatings were the order of the day there as well. On June 8, 1946 I was released for deportation without any preceding trial, since there were no charges against me. During the expulsion I was relieved of my nickel-plated watch.



 

Report No. 49

translation 
by Victor Diodon and Arnim Johannis.   zum deutschen Originalbericht
Elderly people maltreated
while withdrawing savings at City Hall

Reported by: Moritz Hilscher Report of June 23, 194[6?] (Mährisch Schönberg)

location of Moravian SchönbergLike many other people, I had to report to City Hall in Moravian Schönberg every month to request the release of a monthly sum from my savings account. On this occasion the Stráz would abuse and maltreat the people requesting their money. I myself, aged 71, was slapped about the head twice. That was in March and May 1946. In May of this year I witnessed an 82-year-old man being hit on the head so badly that he lost consciousness. The women were cursed as German whores, and the old people were threatened that they would be burned in the gas works.


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