(Page 2 of 2)Report No. 52
Reported by: Hermine Pytlik Report of July 5, 1946
I was an inmate of the camp at Olmütz-Hodolein from June 4, 1945 to June 10, 1945 and I was an eyewitness when some 15 inmates of the old people's home of Olmütz, who had been taken to the camp in the beginning of July, were divided into two groups by the National Guards and shot with pistols at point-blank range. The shooting took place in the evening right in front of the windows of my barrack. The victims were all old and ill and from 65 to 80 years of age.
Reported by: Dr. Hein Report of July 5, 1946 (Olmütz)
I was arrested in Olmütz on May 28, 1945 by members of the Revolutionary Guard, taken to the concentration camp and beaten severely with rifle butts on the way, and flung with kicks into the bunker where I had to remain until June 21 of last year, lying on the damp earth with no blanket and not enough food to keep body and soul together. Every day, both morning and night, about eight Czechs came to beat me with cudgels, steel rods etc. I was locked into this bunker with several other Germans, three of whom died miserably without anyone bothering to care for them. Every second or third night I was dragged from the bunker, several times in each case, and taken to a barrack where I was dreadfully maltreated. I have come away from this abuse with a number of permanent physical injuries. I am deaf on my right ear, have only partial control over my right foot, I suffer from kidney trouble and constant back pain and can hardly stand up straight. I suffer from daily headaches and sometimes my hands shake uncontrollably.
Reported by: Walburga Lindenthal Report of October 6, 1946 (Olmütz)
I was engaged to a former British prisoner of war, who returned to England in June 1945 and sent me a certificate through the British Embassy in Prague, requiring the Czech authorities to give me preferential treatment. In spite of the certificate I was conscripted for labour in the iron-works without payment and for this reason was detained in the camp of Olmütz-Hodolein for four months. Letters from my fiancé were frequently held up. I received no mail at all since May 1946, although I know that my fiancé has regularly written to me once a week.
harassment of old people
Reported by: Hermann Komarek Report of August 1, 1946 (Olmütz)
My wife and were imprisoned in the Olmütz and Stefanau concentration camps from July 11 until October 6, 1945. Despite our age (we are both 63 years old) we were treated very badly there. I was often beaten, for no other reason than because the guards felt like it. We were given so little food that we were constantly starving. In early October we were released for health reasons, to return home. My wife was in such bad shape and covered with festering wounds that she did not recover, and died in early November. Meanwhile my house had been confiscated, and looted to the bare walls. All my better suits and shoes were taken from me. All I have left now is torn clothes and one pair of shoes that are falling apart.
Reported by: Kurt Domes, engineer Report of January 17, 1951 (Olmütz)
On May 5th, 1945, my wife and I drove to Hombock near Olmütz. On May 7th the Russians marched into the village without resistance. This was the long expected signal for the Czechs to start robbing and looting. Radio Prague broadcasted day and night the announcement: "Exterminate the Germans wherever you find them". President Beneš personally issued this invitation to murder at the beginning of May in a speech he held over the Czech radio.
On May 13th, at quarter to 12 a. m., Blaha, a lieutenant of the police came for me. When I hesitated and pointed out that today was Sunday and promised to report the next day, he replied harshly: "No, that is impossible, you have to come with me at once, it is an order!" These words were the beginning of a time full of suffering for me. Partisans took me over at the police-station. These youths were the most feared of all and, indeed, we were all welcomed with 25 blows from rubber-belting and the butts of submachine guns. Bleeding from the nose and mouth, I was marched to the shooting-range near Olmütz together with nine fellow-sufferers. On our way, in the neighbourhood of the monastery of Hradisch, we were received by about 30 persons, mostly women, who lined both sides of the road. These women were armed with clubs, with which they struck at us violently. Their sadism is only explicable as a result of incitement by the Czech radio to the organized murder of Germans, for which exemption from punishment was promised. The Americans, who marched up to the line between Prague and Pilsen, passively watched the horrible crimes of the Czechs. Arriving at the range, we had to strip to the waist and to take pick-axes and shovels. While the men of the guard-unit as well as spectators struck us constantly, we had to dig up the corpses of 22 men and women. We were then told that we, too, should be shot and buried, after we had got out the corpses. More and more Czechs arrived, who participated in the general beatings. All of a sudden a Russian appeared who was accompanied by a Czech. He chose one man out of our lines, took him behind the [shooting range]. After some minutes had passed we heard the sound of a shot. We were never to see our comrade again.
When the corpses were dug up, we were ordered to wash them, to lay them in coffins and to load them on trucks, while a Czech filmed the whole event. During all this time we suffered from constant maltreatment. At 9 o'clock in the evening, notwithstanding the previous threats that we should be killed, we were taken to the jail at Olmütz, where we had to stand in a small gangway with our faces to the wall. Again the ill-treatment began. The blows fell mainly on our heads and backs until blood dripped from our mouths and noses. Then we were thrust into a narrow cell, where seven of us were confined in a space of about 10 square meters (11.9 square yards). There we had to sleep on a cold concrete floor without a blanket and with only our shoes as a pillow. An uncovered bucket served as toilet and only once within 24 hours was the window opened for 15 minutes. The first two days of our imprisonment we received nothing at all to eat. On the third day we received the thin soup which remained our principal dish thereafter. Two months later, by which time I was only able to hold myself upright by leaning against the cell-wall, I was informed that I could go home as there was nothing against me. A warder then took me to the office of the prison, where my release was made out. It was handed over not to me, but to the policeman, who ordered me to follow him. When I said that I had been released and could now go home, he replied: "You'll go home via the concentration camp at Hodolein!" Anyone who knew this notorious camp, in which it was estimated that more than 3,500 Germans had been beaten to death from May to November 1945, would understand that I was terror-stricken. The policeman took me to the camp and handed me over to the office of the camp. I was ordered to barrack No. 2 and met there an old acquaintance of mine. He warned me to conceal my title and rank, since the Czechs took special measures against the German intelligentsia. This friend was Mr. Cepe, an Austrian engineer and commissioner of forests, about 60 years of age. He prepared me for the suffering which awaited me. The "protector" of the camp was one Dr. Rehulka from Olmütz, a member of the Czech Christian Socialist party and a fanatical chauvinist. I spent eleven full months in this camp.
The camp at Hodolein was a so-called barrack-camp, housing [3,000] to 4,000 internees. As fast as prisoners died or were released, the numbers were made up again by newcomers so that in this camp alone about 17,000 Germans had been interned in the course of a year, between May 1945 and May 1946. The warders, mostly youths of the worst type, were born sadists. Especially when they were under the influence of liquor the prisoners were brutally abused. Every night deafening noises and terrible screams made us tremble. One comrade was dragged out of our lines, driven from one corner to the other of the long corridor and then lashed with length of copper cables, belts and sticks until he lay insensible on the ground. If anyone survived the torture and dared to file a complaint, he was certain not to live through the next night. These beatings to death were always carried out during the night, mostly about midnight. First of all the kidneys of the unfortunate men were loosened with blows and then the maltreatment went on until he lay dead on the floor. One of the most notorious of our slaughterers was a certain Smetana from Olmütz, who was also personally known to me.
On October 27th, 1945, I was ordered to the guard-room of barrack No. 12 and there ill-used in the most frightful way by three youths under the command of the notorious Smetana. They all took part in the beating. A lucky chance saved me in this terrible situation. Two policemen arrived with a new transport of 30 men from Sudetenland. I received such a kick that I flew against the door like a piece of paper, while the slaughterer yelled at me: "You will report to-morrow at midnight, then we will finish you off!" I returned to my barrack, beaten and trembling. But I could not sleep for pain and terror. In the morning I immediately reported for work outside the camp, in order to go and see a friend of mine, a professor, during the lunch-hour. The Czech professor immediately went to the police-station, where he talked to the chief of police, saying that he would not tolerate the way in which I was being treated; if I had done something wrong, it would be in the competence of the People's Court to punish me. After these words the chief of police yelled at the professor that he would arrest him if he attempted to use his influence on behalf of a German. The professor answered that he could arrest him if he liked, but he would not accept the mistreatment of a decent and honest man whom he knew and for whom he would stand guarantee at any time. This conference was successful in the end and when I returned from my work in the evening and delivered my work-certificate, a policeman told me to fetch my belongings and to follow him. He took me to the police-barrack No. 6 and said that no one would molest me in there. But at midnight a sentry opened the doors of all cells and asked for the names of the inmates. I gave him a wrong name. The sentry slammed the door and yelled that the swine was nowhere to be found. In front of the barrack I heard Smetana, the slaughterer, scream: "We will search for that bastard until we find him and then we will finish him off; this time he won't get away." The guards had obviously got knowledge of the intervention on my behalf and they were seeking revenge.
Next morning I left again for work and went to the professor at noon. This time he succeeded in getting me employed as servant in a convent. I was sent for immediately. Thus I escaped from a sure death at Hodolein. Later on I learned how lucky I had been from my brother-in-law, Stephan Wallaschek, a locksmith from Olmütz, who had been interned in the camp at the same time as myself. During the first weeks he was ordered to dig up unexploded shells and was also forced to sleep at night together with other fellow-sufferers, in a squatting position. They were forbidden to lie down. During the daily parades he was beaten with belts and sticks. At night he was taken out of his cell, tied over four chairs and beaten into insensibility. After this he was burnt with cigarettes and if he then still showed any sign of life, the beating was continued. This procedure [had to] be endured four times. When my brother-in-law was so weak that he could only get along by resting his hands against the wall, he was released by the camp-judge with the following words: "Nothing has been found against you, see to it that you get home." With his kidneys loosened, his teeth smashed in and deaf in one ear he returned home. Even after a year he was still unable to walk a few hundred meters without pain.
When I was assigned to the convent as servant, the mother superior explained to me that I could not leave the house, since I should be in great danger. The Czech professor visited me every day, as did my wife, and I was able to tell them for the first time of my experiences in the camp. As a result of malnutrition I became ill in the convent and suffered from a carbuncle, as big as a fist, on the buttocks, so that I soon was unable to move. The doctors gave orders that I should be operated on, but no hospital would admit me as I was a German. A Czech doctor wrote on the back of the certificate of illness: Germans not admitted! My former doctor then attended me free of charge. After six weeks of illness I was turned out of the convent. Again I was ordered to the camp at Hodolein. In my fear I applied to a priest who succeeded in getting me a job as a workman at the municipal timber-yard. I was still in custody and had to work in all weathers; as a former town-councillor the Czechs liked best to have me sweep the streets in front of the town-hall, but we were no longer maltreated as in the camp at Hodolein. One day I was re-arrested by an agent of the secret police and taken to the police-station. After three days had passed I was put in jail for the second time and kept in suspense. A relative informed my wife, who went to the police in order to find out what I had been accused [of]. On her arrival she was told that there was no accusation at all and that I would be released the next day. Months of imprisonment went by and on the urging of my wife a well-known lawyer took up the case. Obtaining sight of the court-records he saw that, in fact, there was no accusation against me and obtained my release after six months of imprisonment. On the date of my release I had been in detention for more than two years, in prison cells or in internment camps, without a concrete accusation, simply because of my German nationality.
The description above concerning my experiences in my homeland is in
accordance with truth. I have endeavoured to be objective, and if anything seems
my fellow-sufferers can confirm the correctness of my statements.