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Freudenthal

Report No. 185
translation by Gerda Johannsen.   zum deutschen Originalbericht
Report on events at Freudenthal in 1945
Reported by: Dr. Carl Gregor, physician Report of November 25, 1947

location of FreudenthalI was arrested three times by the Czech police. The first time was at Grulich in May 1945, the second time at Freudenthal in June 1945, when I was taken to the concentration camp together with my wife and my mother-in-law; and the third time again with my wife at Freudenthal, shortly before Christmas.

My third imprisonment was preceded by three house searches. I no longer lived in my house at that time, but had found shelter in the catholic parsonage. I was arrested because the censors had objected to a letter which my wife had sent to her sister, who had been ordered to forced labour.

My first arrest took place on my flight to Grulich. It was the day on which all German men were rounded up on the market-place of the town. They had to empty their pockets and their rings, including wedding rings, were taken from them by the Czechs. About 9 o'clock in the morning the whole crowd of men with their hands above their heads were driven on the double through the streets of the little town towards the district administration building. Then we had to stand in front of the building, our hands still raised. We were led in small groups before a tribunal, which consisted of Russian officers, partisans, the Czech mayor and other Czech functionaries. This tribunal sentenced everyone to a certain amount of corporal punishment. There was also a group of German boys of school age in front of the building, who were constantly being beaten and knocked about. Whenever one of the boys collapsed, he was kicked and cold water was poured over him until he came to. A group of men were treated in the same manner after having been forced to hold up the insignia of the district administration building, a heavy eagle weighing several zentners [1 zentner = 220 lbs], with arms fully outstretched. I still remember a 70-year-old man who was severely affected by the tortures to which he was subjected and often collapsed from exhaustion. It should be stressed that the intelligentsia was especially singled out by the Czechs as an object for their sadism. A citizen of the town, who presumably had hidden himself but had been discovered, was wrapped in a swastika flag and driven through the streets with blows. His face was a mass of blood. When he finally collapsed, the Czechs trampled on him with their boots. He did not regain consciousness and was then dragged behind the building of the district administration. The sound of a shot made us assume that he had been shot there.

Since I was not an inhabitant of the town, the tribunal acquitted me, but strictly ordered me to return to Freudenthal without delay.

My car had been taken away from me, and I walked back to Freudenthal together with my wife, our three children, my mother-in-law, my sister-in-law and our maid. Freudenthal was still occupied by the Russians. As I was the only doctor in town, the Czech local administration ordered me to take up my medical practice again. My house had been wrecked and most of my possessions looted, but after provisional repairs I moved in and began my medical work again. When the Russians left the town, a tank regiment composed of partisans entered it. With this, the period of suffering began for the German population. I will not describe individual cases but only my own experiences.

On June 14th, in the forenoon, two Czech military surgeons appeared during my consultation-hours, checking my licence and informing themselves very thoroughly as to conditions in my house. I had particularly to show them the stock of my medical instruments. On June 15th, 1945 my house was surrounded by partisans and, under the leadership of a Lieutenant Colonel, it was searched, while I was threatened that I would be shot if a weapon should be found in the house. After the search ended without result they all left, taking with them both my typewriters. It seemed that the officer was pleased with my house and decided to move into the apartment in the ground floor, which had formerly belonged to a Major in the Wehrmacht. The apartment had quickly to be put in order by German women, and within two days it became a repository of stolen German property. Among other things there were precious antique pendulum-clocks from the German Castle of the Order, six radios, Persian carpets and many other articles. On June 17th, 1945, at one o'clock p. m., my house was again surrounded by partisans, who were now the executive power. They forcibly entered my house, took all the jewellery, all money and my documents and led me, my wife and my mother-in-law through the town under escort. I wore only light house-clothes and was not allowed to put on my shoes. My three children and the maid were driven out of the house and into the street.

We were taken to the former prisoner-of-war camp in the outskirts of the town, right opposite of the military barracks. First of all we had to remove the dirt and the refuse and were subjected to a short interrogation. During the latter I learned that I was accused of having killed 150 foreigners. We were the first prisoners there, but soon after our arrival more than 80 inhabitants were brought to the camp. Because of the fact that I spoke Czech fluently I had to interpret when the particulars of a prisoner were to be taken down. At dusk I, together with other prisoners, had to fetch straw from a barn at the other end of the town for our night's quarters. The carts of straw were not drawn by horses, we had to pull them ourselves. The camp inmates were divided into men and women and were lodged in two rooms, each about 40 square meters [about 48 square yards].

About 7 o'clock in the evening two partisans escorted me to the military barracks. I was led to a room in which, beside the two military surgeons already mentioned, there were also present officers, soldiers and partisans. The accusation that I had killed 150 foreigners was repeated. I repudiated this baseless accusation with the remark that I was accustomed to help people and to preserve life, not to kill anyone: I should like to be confronted with the person who was able to produce evidence for such an accusation. A cadet, completely unknown to me, then declared that he knew me and maintained that I, like the other German surgeons, had murdered foreigners by means of injections. After making thorough inquiries, he had allegedly learned that the accusation was well-founded. I replied that I did not know the accuser and protested sharply against such an accusation. The reply to my protest was scornful laughter and a kick in the stomach. They then said that I must be shot, but that first I should have a few things to put up with.

I was taken to a room in which a large table was set up. As a result of the kick in my stomach and the blows on my head and my shoulders I was now quite dazed. A feeling of tiredness and indifference seized me. I was ordered to lie on the table, face downwards. Two partisans held me firmly by the arms, a third one cocked his pistol and pressed it against my neck. Any utterance of pain was forbidden. They beat me indiscriminately. I estimate that about 18 men, including the officers and the military surgeons, beat me with lead pipes, sabres, bullwhips and sticks. When, probably as a result of a blow with a lead pipe, the skin of my buttocks burst open, which caused unbearable pain, I groaned aloud. The result was that I was gagged, with a gag defiled with human excrement. The beating continued. When I was very near to collapsing, I was put back on my feet and since it seemed that I would sink down, I was again kicked in the belly and struck on the head. I was unable to hold my head up, which actually prevented me from being hit in the face.

After all this was over I had to drag myself back to the camp. I was told that I was to be shot the next day. At the camp I was handed over to the commandant, who was to keep me in close confinement. In view of my knowledge of the Czech and Slovak language he installed me as camp leader and declared me responsible for everything going on in the camp; attempts to escape or suicides of inmates would be followed by my immediate execution. Thereafter I was present at all trials and interrogations and had to watch the torture and ill-treatment of my fellow-citizens.

A young boy, accused of having hidden weapons, was especially ill-used. Another boy, not quite 17, who had escaped from his place of work, was also beaten half to death.

It became customary to take men and women from the camp for clearing work. When the above-mentioned boy did not return to the camp, all the other members of the working group, since they could give no information as to the boy's whereabouts, were punished by caning on the naked soles of their feet. Later on the boy was brought back and all the men of the group, who had just been punished, were forced by the camp commander to knock the boy about. In addition he too was accused of possessing weapons and was taken to the military barracks together with another youth. We did not see them again until they were brought back to the camp for execution. Both were beaten beyond recognition.

All of the camp inmates had to line up to witness the execution. In the meantime we had been moved from the PoW camp to a military barracks opposite the brewery. A deep hole had been dug behind the camp; in front of this hole the two boys were placed, while four soldiers, who were supposed to carry out the execution, stood at a distance of three paces. I was now ordered to stand next to a Czech officer, about 5 paces distant from the hole. This officer read out the sentence of death in Czech and I had to translate it into German. It was signed by two officers, which shows that the sentence had not been passed by a regular court. Another similar sentence on the innkeeper of a neighbouring village, which was carried out in the camp, was also signed only by two officers. In both cases the possession of weapons was the reason for the sentence, which was executed by shooting. The names of the boys shot were Leo Kübast and Helmut Muhr. The innkeeper was Thiel from Vogelseifen. As I learned after my release, the parents of the youths had not been informed of the shooting.

During my stay in the camp a number of inmates were killed. I can only remember the name of one Karl Kunze, a brewery-wagoner who, like myself, was accused of having killed more than a hundred foreigners. I was also ordered to examine the corpse of a murdered woman by the name of Kloss or Klohse. In a few cases I had to give death certificates and I was forced to give "heart failure" as the cause of death.

Even women were not spared from maltreatment. I may mention here the case of Herta Klein from Altstadt near Freudenthal. She was maltreated by the camp commander himself and was later ordered to strip and to exhibit the marks before the eyes of the assembled prisoners.

I should mention here that juveniles and preferably war-invalids were used for the necessary grave-digging work. They had to dig out the graves with their bare hands.

Our diet consisted mainly of rotten food and of meat from road-kill.

After I left the concentration camp I heard that a mass-execution of 20 men had taken place.

On my release from the concentration camp I was forced to sign a declaration that, on pain of death, I would reveal nothing about conditions in the camp.

I should not fail to mention that all medical attention for the camp inmates was left to me. No medications or other remedies were put at my disposal. When I attempted to exempt ill persons, elderly people and those who were injured by constant beatings from forced labour, the distribution was withdrawn from my control and I myself had to go to work. Among other tasks I had to clean latrines and to help as an assistant in a mechanic shop. Since I was unable to bend forward as a result of the tortures I had endured, I was beaten and scoffed at.



 

Report No. 186

translation 
by Victor Diodon and Arnim Johannis.   zum deutschen Originalbericht
Executions in the Freudenthal camp in 1945
Reported by: Johann Partsch Report of June 24, 1946 (Freudenthal)

location of Freudenthal and EngelsbergOn June 24, 1945 the so-called German Revolutionary Guard randomly rounded up 8 men in Engelsberg, including me, and took us to the concentration camp in Freudenthal. We were left 10 days in isolation there, and during this time we were beaten every night and several times during the day as well. The beatings were repeated at half-hour intervals each night. We were all disfigured beyond recognition. The worst day was July 4. That day, the beatings already began in the morning. Then 25 inmates had to dig a pit. They were constantly beaten while digging. Then all the prisoners were assembled around the pit. At the same time, the members of the German Revolutionary Guard were locked up. A Czech verdict was read out, but most of us didn't understand it. Then 20 half-dressed men were brought out from a barrack. 10 of them had to kneel before the pit. 10 Czechs with submachine guns shot them and threw them into the pit. Then the second group of 10 followed. This group included Wilhelm Baum from Engelsberg as well as 6 other men, including senior teacher Hermann Just from Engelsberg, who had been discredited as civil servant for being a former Social Democrat, radio expert Fochler from Freudenthal, who had been an anti-Fascist with the German Revolutionary Guard, and the farmer Zimmermann from Dürrseifen, who had been found to favor ethnically foreign employees. Grave digger Gustav Riedl from the first group had not been mortally hit. After three minutes he staggered to his feet in the pit and begged for a mercy bullet. A Czech fired his submachine gun at him again. After another few minutes Riedl again got up. He was shot once more. Gustav Alraun and Alfred Nickmann, both from Engelsberg, had to fill in the pit. They saw that Riedl and several of the others were still living, and those unfortunates were then finally beaten to death with rifle butts.

The background to this execution was as follows: two Czechs from the municipal guard had been injured while handling a Russian hand grenade. One of them was killed, the other badly injured. These were the findings of the Russian city headquarters. But the Czechs claimed that a time fuse had exploded in a radio shop, and that the Germans had placed this time fuse there. The Czechs demanded permission from the Russian office to execute, first 100, then 50 Germans, which the Russians refused. The 20 men were then shot without the Russians' permission.

Youths aged 11 years and up were also imprisoned in the Freudenthal concentration camp. Helmut Muhr, 16 years old, was shot on June 26 because he had gone to visit his mother. It was then proclaimed that anyone who escaped the camp and was caught would be shot along with 10 other inmates of the camp, and if he were not caught, his family and 10 inmates would be shot. I know of at least 10 other executions. I personally had to bury the innkeeper Adolf Thiel from Neuvogelseifen, digging his grave with my hands because I was forbidden to use the shovels, of which there were several in the camp.


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