Report No. 201
Reported by: Rudolf Knauer Report of February 1, 1947
I was an eyewitness to and victim of barbaric methods used in my hometown community of Hennersdorf and in the resettlement [expulsion] camp in Jägerndorf, Troppau Street, in which I was interned from August 13, 1945 until February 15, 1946, and as such I wish to make the following report, which is based on my own experiences and on the statements of my fellow-sufferers.
Returning from the Wehrmacht, I arrived in my home town Hennersdorf at Whitsun 1945. Our home had been broken into and drawers and closets rummaged through. Russian troops were quartered in the community as occupation forces and were supposed to ensure peace and order. The inhabitants of our wholly German community were going about their business as usual when the first Czech gendarmes, so-called financial fiduciaries, moved in in early June 1945. They established a Národní Výbor which also took over official community duties. This take-over inaugurated our time of suffering, a veritable hunt for the industrious native German population
A time of terror began for the women and girls, as the soldiers from the occupation forces hounded and raped them at any time of the day or night. The men were unable to protect their wives and daughters and in fact were even forced to watch as the victims were violated. Czech laborers from the region of Friedek-Mistek were brought in by car; they took over and moved into the farmsteads first, and in the following days they also took over the remaining houses, claimed to be administrators, confiscated the entire possessions including food, clothing, linen and furniture, and assigned the true owners, who were thus turned into beggars overnight, to the tiniest available room in the house or in other buildings. The most horrific maltreatment often accompanied this. I myself witnessed two farmers (Josef Andres and Adolf Stefan) being so badly beaten by Czech partisans that they were left lying with blood-covered faces and their bodies entirely suffused with blood. To extort a confession from them, they were threatened with being shot, and were forced to dig their own grave. Since the farmers were innocent, they bore the injustice being done to them with an admirable calm, but they and their kin (wives and children) had terrible tortures to endure. That was just one of the methods these brutes often used. In the Kuhberg colony, a group of 10 houses that were part of the community, all the inhabitants (loggers) were robbed of their food (meat, flour, grain etc.) and forest ranger Schnaubelt was tortured by a different method of choice. He too was supposed to make a false confession. He was hung upside-down, beaten on the soles of his feet, and drawn up. When he was unconscious they dumped water on him, repeated this treatment several times, and then left him lying unconscious. The tortured man told me this himself, and the inhabitants of Kuhberg, who presently live as expellees in Münnerstadt, District Bad Kissingen, can testify to it as well. During the house searches, which were done door-to-door during the confiscations, all the inhabitants of the community were more or less frequently beaten and robbed until the very day of their expulsion.
The farmers were busy bringing in the main harvest when unrest seized the community in the night of August 12-13, 1945. Around 4 o'clock in the morning there was suddenly a banging on our door, and a bellowing voice ordered us to report to the estate inn within one hour, with 30 kilos of luggage and rations for four days. We had no idea what they were planning to do with us.
And so we were herded - shoved along with rifle butts - to the assembly point, where we had to stand around until 2 o'clock p.m. Older men and women who could not move along quickly enough with their baggage were slapped and punched. Children screamed out of fear and hunger, and their mothers sobbed because the guards escorting us roared at us like animals.
At 3 o'clock we set off on our foot-march into the unknown. People were driven like animals from their native home, which their ancestors had made arable 700 years before. We unfortunates, about 1,200 inhabitants, mostly women and children and old people, had to march 25 km on the hard county road to Jägerndorf, where we arrived dead tired at 11:30 at night. We were taken to the concentration camp in Troppauer Street. Behind us closed the gates of a camp fenced in on all sides, from which many hundreds never emerged alive again. But still there was to be no rest for us yet. Families were separated, and the men had to line up for registration. After questioning we were shoved into pitch-dark sheds, where we had to spend the night sitting on the floor. The women and children were put into barracks crawling with bed-bugs. The next morning we had to line up to be body-searched. Czech guards (men ranging from 20 to 50 years of age) searched us. They took all our cash, any usable items of clothing, other necessities such as razors, cutlery, even our travel rations, while shoving almost all of us around with their rifle butts, and punching many in the face. After this first encounter with the representatives of the Czech camp, to whom we had to take off our hats when standing before them, we were assigned a badly damaged tank garage as sleeping hall, to house 2,000 people. The straw bedding was full of bugs. From 10 o'clock in the evening until 5:00 a.m. we were forbidden to leave the garage, and had to answer the call of nature into barrels set up for the purpose. The only way we were ever addressed was "you German pigs". Whenever a guard appeared, which happened almost every half hour, we had to call "Attention!" and freeze in "halt" position. If anyone failed to hear the call to attention - which happened especially to the older men - they received a punch to the face that knocked them to the floor.
One Sunday in September 1945 we were taken to the Burgberg concentration camp to visit with our families. The trip was led by the head guard, a monster named Hudec who called himself Commissar. Together with a few other guards, this man managed on the way back to the camp to accuse about 300 of us of not having properly greeted three Czech officers passing by, and once back in the camp, he punished us as follows:
He ordered us to "pozor" (stand still), and we had to remain like that for half an hour. Other guards with sticks saw to it that we remained in the desired position. But then the real torture began. We got alternating commands: seesaw, down on the ground, crawl across the big square and back on our elbows without using our feet, then we had to alternately march and run. The weak old men received kicks if they could not keep up - and after all they were not young recruits, more than half of them were over 60 and about 50 of them even over 70 years of age. Daughters and wives could only weep as they had to watch this torture without being able to help. For two full hours these innocent men, of whom I was one too, had to suffer, until they collapsed.
There was no end to the sadism. For example, other transports (women, children and old men) who came to the camp after us had to spend three to four of the cold autumn nights sleeping on a concrete floor under a tent-like ceiling and surrounded only by a fence, before even being assigned barracks. In the late fall, so many men were crowded together in a barrack that two men each had to share one bedstead, after we had been sleeping on the bare floor for weeks. Sick patients, who mostly suffered from starvation-related typhus, could only be taken to the hospital by fellow prisoners and on small hand carts (children's carts). The concentration camp also served as slave auction. The transports destined for the coal pits of Moravian Ostrau, and for the Czech interior for agricultural labor, were put together here. The trips to our destinations went via open cattle cars. The victims were given barbaric treatment, not only while they were alive but even once they were dead. No clergy saw to their spiritual aid, even though three months after our arrival two well-fed Czech clergymen held Holy Mass in the open air in front of a latrine in the camp every Sunday and therefore knew very well how badly we were being treated. But there was not so much as a word of sympathy or criticism to be heard.
Our rations: breakfast: boiled brown water, so-called coffee or tea without sugar; lunch: unsalted potato soup (made mostly with frozen potatoes) mixed with potato starch, all of which together made for an inedible sort of slime; supper: see breakfast; plus 200 g [7 oz] bread to last the entire day.
For this diet, for which we were forced to line up for hours on end even in rain and snow, the men and women had to work hard all day long, without pay, and were often harassed and tormented for up to two hours during the roll-calls that took place at 7:00 p.m. each evening, to which the men had to report without their hats even in the cold and the rain. The result was that even a few weeks later the camp inmates were only skin and bones and especially the older people died of starvation.
That we got no fuel to heat with in the winter is something I just want to mention briefly. It was part of the inhuman treatment we got, as is the fact that the resettlement [expulsion] transports began in the cold of January 1946. That's what the resettlement, that was proclaimed to the world as a humane procedure, was really like - and it is remarkable that the rest of the civilized world keeps silent about all these atrocities. Our settlement area where we lived had never been Czech.
Report No. 202
Reported by: J. Schöppel Report of October 6, 1946
On July 8th of this year, my daughter Hildegard, born on June 3rd, 1928, was shot by the Czech commissar Anton Konecny at Hermannstadt. She was working for a Czech farmer; on the third day of her employment, while she was spreading manure, the commissar, who lived in the same house, stepped out and shot at her with his 9 mm Flaubert rifle. She was hit in the right breast and died the next morning. The ambulance had been sent for, but had arrived only five hours later. Konecny attempted to clear himself by asserting that he had shot her by accident. The Czech farmer in whose service my daughter was employed told me that he had heard of Konecny having shot another girl at Römerstadt. A week earlier he had also endangered the lives of the German farmer Kröner and his son.
Report No. 203
Reported by: Franz Kreissl Report of September 26, 1946
I worked as a miner in the Lichtenstein coal and clay works. On September 2, 1945 my home was totally looted by Czechs. They stole clothes and linen, bedding, dishes and food, as well as several musical instruments. On September 9, 1945 the Czechs returned and maltreated me and my wife, who was seven months pregnant. They beat us with cudgels, pistols and rifle butts, and kicked us. They shoved pins under my wife's and my fingernails. Then I was led off, bleeding from my mouth and nose and two head wounds, but was released again to return home after a few hours. The next day the Czechs returned yet again and forced my wife, despite her pregnancy, to get on the motorcycle with which they fetched me from my place of work. Now I was imprisoned. In November my wife and our children were driven out of our house with nothing but a few old rags, two days before my wife delivered. On January 19, 1946 I was released from the camp at my employer's request.
Report No. 204
Reported by: Engelbert Watzka
In late July 1945 a Czech mayor came to our community with his secretary, took over the Town Hall, ordered the public school to be cleared out, and set himself up there. News from the cities revealed that transports of expellees were already being resettled in September. As of August 15 the first Communist Czechs arrived in our village. We called them Commissars. They looked like vagabond, poorly dressed, dirty, with torn shoes, and each of them always carried a briefcase under his arm, in which they carried documents to prove that the Communist Czech government had granted them the right to take possession of and "administer" any farming estate, inn or business they cared to take over. Several times groups of 10 to 15 Czechs arrived, strolled through our town, looked at the nicest of the farms and all the newly built houses, and wrote down the house numbers. The following day they would return with the Chief Commissar to appropriate these farms and businesses. Entire families also arrived, and the Germans had to leave their homes instantly, without notice, and were assigned a spare room somewhere where they then had to live. They had to leave all their goods and possessions for the Czechs, with the sole exception of a few pieces of furniture, bedding and feather ticks, clothing and linen. By September our town, consisting of 130 numbered houses, was occupied by 76 Czech families.
We had to work all day long. Every morning at 5 o'clock Czech guards blockaded the streets, and no Germans were allowed on the streets after 7 o'clock p.m. If more than two people were seen standing together during the day, they were dispersed. There were at most 4 or 5 experienced farmers among the Czech invaders. All the others were circus folk, street performers, actors, dairy farmhands, and to a very great extent they were work-shy vagabonds. The first transport from Hinterkotten, of 5 Germans families being sent as forced laborers into the Bohemian interior, left in early October and these returned before Christmas the same year. They told us that they had had to work all day outdoors in the fields even in bitterly cold weather, with insufficient rations, and had to spend the nights in unheated emergency shelters where the wind whistled in. When these families returned and wanted their property back, it had already been confiscated by Czechs and they were no longer allowed to enter, but given some empty rooms to stay in.
In late September 1945 a Czech administrator came to us and wanted our farm estate. He could hardly understand German. Later he returned with the Chief Commissar. Both of them were young fellows, about 19 or 20 years of age. He informed me that our estate now belonged to him, and that everything in the house, stable and yard belonged to his colleague Josef Rojsek. He demanded our savings bank books and cash. Then these two fellows went from room to room, into the yard and the stable and the granary, noted everything down, locked everything and informed us that if we needed anything we would have to ask him for it. Josef Rojsek immediately made himself at home in our best room and with our best things. He had been a butcher's apprentice, and had not the slightest knowledge of farming. A lady interpreter had to come every morning and tell us what he wanted that day. He was only interested in eating and drinking, never in working. We had to continue to work the farm, and he would only check on us occasionally. So at least we didn't go hungry, and we got whatever we needed.
The first transport from Hinterkotten left in late January 1946. The expulsion luggage, limited to 50 kg, was inspected at the Town Hall and anything that was new was confiscated. Poor people were first sent to the Kuttenplan concentration camp, where they had to stay 10 to 14 days. In the camp they were left to go hungry if they had no relatives or friends in our town who could secretly bring them some food. The transport took place in very cold weather; sometimes the train would just stand on the tracks idle all day long, and the entire trip took 6 to 8 days. The wind whistled through the dilapidated cattle cars, and most of the people on the transport fell ill and some even died.
In late April 1946 there was a fire in Kuttenplan. It was in the evening. A house burned down, approximately 1 hour's distance from us. Still that same evening the Czech gendarmerie came, drove all the men of the community together and out of our town. They were taken to the customs office in Promenhof, where the gendarmerie was quartered, and there they were all beaten with rubber truncheons, boots and bludgeons. The next day they were herded to Plan. They had to march through our town, more than 100 men. In Plan half of them were locked into the concentration camp, and the others, mostly younger men, were sent to do forced labor - on a diet of bread and water. Many of them were also abducted into the Bohemian interior, where they had to do forced labor.
On June 26, in the evening as we were returning from making hay, the town constable Mann showed up unexpectedly and informed us: "Watzka family, ready for transport at 7 o'clock tomorrow morning." Our Czech administrator wanted us to stay. We had to report to the Town Hall, where our luggage was inspected one more time, and all objects of value were taken from us. We arrived in the Kuttenplan concentration camp at 11 o'clock. Every arriving family had to put their possessions in a little pile, and then the Czech gendarmerie arrived, did a head count and reevaluated the piles of luggage once more. If a family was small, it was not unusual for the luggage pile to be reduced by another suitcase or something else. We were quartered in the third story of the Kuttenplan Castle, where 4 families were squeezed into one room. We only had to stay there 4 days. On the second day we were examined by a physician and disinfected, and on the third day each of us was issued 500 RM by the camp administrator. On July 30 our luggage was retrieved from the basement and loaded up, after which we had to guard the wagons, while being ourselves guarded by Czechs. On July 1 , a Monday afternoon, an altar was set up in the anteroom of the camp square, where a clergyman read the Sacrifice of the Mass, then gave a sermon and blessed us. After that the Czech commandants ordered us expellees to assemble, and a higher-ranking official in uniform addressed us and told us how we were expected to behave during the transport. Then we 1,200 persons were lined up in rows of four and herded to the train station. Everyone was issued a car number. Groups of 30 were entrained in each wagon. We had to spend the night in these wagons, until the transport moved out at 4:15 a.m. of July 2. It took hours before we reached Eger. In the afternoon we arrived on German soil and could rid ourselves of our white armbands.
Report No. 205
by the commandant of a camp in 1945
Reported by: Erwin Rebel Report of June 16, 1950
On May 8th, 1945, by order of my unit, I was sent together with two other soldiers to Badnovice
near Eipel (Ipolice) in the northwestern part of Czechoslovakia, in order to secure quarters. As a
result of the capitulation my troop probably marched in another direction; in any case it did not
arrive at the place previously designated. I had, however, got in touch with the mayor or other
residents of Badnovice and was given a perfectly correct reception. Attempting to reach the
German border by bicycle and later on foot, I was taken prisoner together with other soldiers.
arrived at last by a circuitous route at the internment camp
of Prague-Hloubĕtin. The then camp commander was a certain N. N.
Hloubĕtin. Since all my documents as well as my outer clothing and
had been taken from me at the time of my capture, I was unable to prove my identity. I was
recommended to obtain a certificate from somewhere to the effect that as a soldier I had never
been involved in military activities in Czechoslovakia and was also not a member of the SS,
Gestapo or other party organizations. With the consent of the camp commander N. N., I wrote
the mayor of Badnovice and asked for such a certificate, as I had made there very precise
statements about my person; in my conversation with the municipal council I had given them
some details of my life. Several weeks later a letter arrived at the camp, in which it was stated
I had stayed at Badnovice on the day of the capitulation and had behaved correctly, but
to the evidence, given by some inhabitants of the village, I had come back with an artillery
regiment several days later and had probably participated in the shooting of two Czechs. N. N.
was supposed to submit this letter to the judicial investigation board present in the camp. This
would have meant my being handed over to the camp guard, who were not under the control of
camp commander and who had already beaten to death two inmates of the camp on the grounds
unproved denunciations. I myself had helped to put the bloody corpses on a truck. N. N., who
knew me as the senior of the barracks, asked me to see him, interrogated me, going into all
and then personally gave me the letter to destroy, as he had convinced himself from my
interrogation that the statements from Badnovice could not be true. I immediately burnt the
By acting in this way, N. N., assisted by his interpreter, who up to 1947 was still living and
working in Prague, saved my life.