Report No. 220
Reported by: Dr. Paul Schmolik Report of August 21, 1946
From early September 1945 until March 10, 1946 I was a prisoner-of-war posted to the labor camp of the L. M. colliery in Karwin. I had to do heavy labor in the coke refinery of the Johann shaft and had to work the entire time in three shifts. There was not a single day of rest. The rations were good but not nearly enough, and as a result I developed fluid in my feet. By the time I was released as invalid, my weight had dropped to 127 pounds (and I am an even 6'0" tall). After I had been released from Russian captivity I was sent directly to Karwin. Therefore I did not have enough clothes or underwear. The camp administration "rented" us pants, camouflage jackets and other items of clothing, and we had to buy wooden shoes. The amount of "rent" charged for letting us use the clothing is still unknown to us, but it was deducted time and again from our monthly pay. The wooden clogs were also charged for, but nonetheless taken from us again on our release. Our shift pay of Kcs 52 - later it was raised to 72 - was noted down, but we never received the accumulated wages in cash, or even their value in camp scrip, and so there was a credit on the books for me on my release, which I have not received to this day.
Our treatment in the camp was very bad. There was no real medical care. The doctor's assessment of our fitness for work was irrelevant, the only opinion that mattered was that of the camp administrator. Frequently, very ill prisoners still had to go to work, and the mortality rate rose. Prisoners of war were mixed indiscriminately with the civilians required to do hard labor. Restrictions imposed on correspondence with our relatives were the order of the day. Writing letters in German was forbidden. After about three months of this rule, we were permitted to send a postcard with a pre-printed message in Czech. In addition to eight-hour night shifts we also had to do unpaid, heavy labor, up to four hours of it at first, particularly unloading wood for the mines, and construction materials. All laborers from all three shifts were quartered in one and the same room, so there was no peace and quite after work. The entire arrangement was like a penal camp, not a labor camp. Corporal punishment with a rubber truncheon, being held under the jet of water from the hydrant in winter, withholding rations and food stamps were common punishments, as was being forced to run laps around the camp. During the time I was in the camp, there was one opportunity to transfer money to one's relatives. The amount that could be transferred was fixed by the administrator. Even though we had money owing to us in the form of a wage credit as described above, neither the prisoners nor their relatives received any money, and so our families were left to go hungry even though their providers performed heavy labor.
As leader of the transport that left Troppau on August 17, 1946 I am in a position to state that the transport commandant and escort units were above reproach. The treatment we received at their hands ranged from proper to accommodating. Also, there were generally no protests regarding the inspection at the customs checkpoint. Regarding the luggage, the members of the transport were quite unequally provided for. Former prisoners of war in particular, who depended on being issued absolutely everything, usually received their clothes and linen from other Germans; these things were old and used, though clean. The majority of the travelers probably exceeded the official 70-kilo limit, but as for the rest, that had neither possessions nor money and was dependent on charity, their luggage did not nearly approach this weight of 70 kg. Like many others, I had 25 kg at most. These people are in no position to make it through the winter safely.
In Troppau the rations provided to the transport were remarkably good. During the trip - particularly in Böhmisch Trübau - the soup, which was all we got, was insufficient. After our arrival at the provisions station in Prague the 60-year-old women Emma Wolf, from Wagon 24, and Olga Simon, from Wagon 15, went into a nearby turnip field to answer the call of nature. For that, one of the guards slapped them about the head. I reported this to the transport commandant, who noted it and promised to report it to his superiors. The duty corporal's conduct towards the women was abusive. The toilet facilities provided for the transport at the way stations must be described as inadequate, and there was also not enough drinking water.
Reported by: cert. engineer Brancik Report of November 4, 1946 (Karwin)
On September 2 of last year I was released from Russian captivity, but rearrested by the Czechs and put to forced labor in the coal mine in Karwin. For half a year I had to work night shifts underground in the mine and was then transferred to the construction department. Working conditions in the underground mine were horrible. The German prisoners-of-war were supervised by three Czechs, who constantly went around with their rubber truncheons and mercilessly beat anyone who even so much as straightened his back for a moment. Rations were completely insufficient, even though the camp was being issued hard-labor ration cards for us. Any illness was regarded as a refusal to work, and treated with beatings. One elderly man who was already totally debilitated was measured alive for his coffin, and then shot at with blank cartridges in the basement just to terrorize him. But he was already so apathetic that even this no longer made much of an impression on him. Articles of clothing and shoes were sold to us prisoners, then confiscated from us a short time later and sold to us all over again.
Report No. 222
Reported by: Ferdinand Bruxdorfer Report of 7. 12. 1945
I am a day laborer, was never a member of the Nazi Party or its formations, and was also never a soldier because my eyesight is insufficient. On October 10, 1944 I was drafted into the Volkssturm [the German people's last-ditch defense effort, comprised mostly of young boys, old men, invalids etc.; Scriptorium], was sent to the Hungarian front, and after the war was over I was released from American captivity in Linz. I had my regular discharge papers. On May 2, 1945 I arrived in Eisenstein, where my parents lived and where I had used to work in Regenhütte in the glass factory. On June 19 the Czechs arrested me for having been a member of the Volkssturm. After three days' incarceration in the Eisenstein prison I was transferred to the barracks camp Klattau.
We were housed in barracks, in military bunks, and had to do agricultural labor. Everyone was shorn bald. A big swastika was affixed to the back of my coat, and everyone also had to wear a yellow armband with the letter "N" printed on it. ["N" = "Nemec" = "German"; Scriptorium.]
Already on my arrival in Klattau I was slapped and punched to no end by the Czech guards. I was taken to the so-called "Correction", into a cellar, where they stripped me naked and poured cold water all over me, and then four to five men beat me with bullwhips. I fell unconscious into the water standing 10 cm high on the floor, and when I came to, I was beaten all over again. My hands were fettered with iron chains throughout all this. This procedure was repeated day and night, and was also inflicted on 10- to 12-year-old boys because weapons had allegedly been discovered in their possession.
Even women (among them my acquaintance Luise Jungbeck from Eisenstein) had to strip naked in this chamber. They were shorn bald, and then Czech legionaries also beat them up. However, they were not raped.
Many men could not endure the tortures, and died. Among those personally known to me were the merchant Karl Fuchs and the architect Passauer, both from Eisenstein. They were killed in Klattau in the "Black Tower".
Rations in the camp consisted of 2 kg bread daily for 8 men, plus potato soup twice. We had to work from 5 o'clock in the morning until it was dark again, but we were not allowed to lie down until 10:00 p.m.
A fellow named Schubek who had been with the Gestapo in Vienna was also imprisoned by the Czechs at first, but then he was made a warder and put in charge of the other Germans. He beat us too.
On November 29, 1945 I was released from this camp in which I had never even been interrogated, and, robbed of all my worldly possessions, I went to Germany.
Reported by: Rudolf Payer Rport of June 28, 1946 (Klattau)
From May 8th, 1945 to June 6th, 1946 I was imprisoned in the court prison at Klattau. Besides the severe maltreatment, which I had to endure just like all the other prisoners, a special torture was inflicted upon me three times - once in June and twice in July 1945: the so-called "correction".
I was stripped naked, fettered at the wrists and ankles, and thrashed with steel rods covered with leather until I was bleeding all over. If one fainted, one was doused with water and the beating was continued until the men themselves were exhausted. Once they put a pile of wood shavings, soaked with gasoline, between my feet and set fire to it, so that my genitals were singed. I myself helped to carry corpses out of the jail in June and July, among them one Muckenschnabel from Teschenitz, who was said to have committed suicide in the "correction-cell", but in my opinion he had been tortured to death there. Among the bodies was that of the former delegate Zierhut, who died in the prison. The other bodies I was unable to identify. I saw with my own eyes how two young soldiers of 16 and 17 years were shot in the neck by a uniformed Czech, after they had been barbarously ill-used.
Reported by: Franz Neumayer Report of June 28, 1946 (Klattau)
While I was a patient in the Annaberg field hospital I fell into Russian captivity, and was released on June 6, 1945. My wound, a grenade shrapnel injury on my left foot, had not yet healed, and is still oozing to this day. In Kladno [Klattau??] the Czechs arrested me and put me into the prisoner-of-war camp there, where I had to stay for 6 weeks, after which time I was sent to work for a farmer. In the prisoner-of-war camp I and my comrades were beaten every day. One of the POWs could only stand hunched over and on two days was repeatedly beaten for that so badly that he died soon afterwards. Another one had dared express doubts about the truthfulness of a speech by President Beneš, which had been broadcast on the radio, and he too was maltreated so badly for it that he died.
Report No. 225
Reported by: Martha Kral Report of June 24, 1946
After having been evacuated I lived with my sister at Klein-Herrlitz, in the district of Freudenthal. At the beginning of July a certain Heinrich Eschig was appointed to my sister's farm as manager. About 10 o'clock in the evening of September 1st somebody knocked at our door. We asked who was there; receiving no answer, we women became frightened and, escaping through the window, took refuge with our neighbour. We could hear the door being broken down; the seamstress, who lived in our house, cried out that she was being beaten. Our children were awakened by the noise and started to cry. We then decided to return to our house. When we entered the door, a shot was fired and my sister dropped down dead. The bullet had pierced her heart. It was the Czech commissar of Klein-Herrlitz, Franz Schimek, who had shot her. He was accompanied by his wife and by Mr. Eschig. When we women cried, he yelled at us. At 1 o'clock in the morning the commissar came back with the gendarmerie and the doctor. Everybody was questioned and our neighbour, Mrs. Güttler, was struck twice in the face. Since that time I have heard nothing more of the matter. Schimek and Eschig are still at Klein-Herrlitz. Several days after these events, the commissar began to spread the rumor that our neighbor's husband, Mr. Rudolf Güttler, had shot my sister. But Rudolf Güttler was only released on September 2nd at Auschwitz from Russian captivity.
Report No. 226
Reported by: Franz Limpächer Report of May 11, 1946
I come from the village of Kleinbocken in the district of Tetschen/Elbe. I am a retailer and I owned a store in the place of my birth, dealing in groceries, merceries, corn, coal and building materials, moreover I possessed a farm of 6.55 hectares (16 acres), which I managed myself.
On May 10, 1945 at 9 o'clock in the morning the Polish army marched into our village and with that moment our period of suffering began. The looting, murders and fires lasted for five long days. Women and girls were raped. They stole my valuables, garments, 16,000 kilos of oats, 3,000 kilos of barley, 1,100 kilos of sugar and other goods to the value of 15,000 Marks as well as my Skoda 2½ ton truck. My wife and my daughter, who during this time were both hidden in our neighbour's pig sty, were deprived of all their clothes except the ones they were wearing. On May 14, 1945, at half past ten in the evening, Poles once more broke into my bedroom, put rifle cartridges into the pocket of my shirt, took them out again and maintained that I was a partisan. After that I was hustled downstairs; with my hands up, dressed only in my underwear and subjected to frequent blows with rifle butts, I had to watch for an hour while my own property was looted.
Afterwards the Poles dragged me to a water-tower outside the village, placed me against it and fired at me three times, but missed me; however, a Pole who had been in my employ came up and said that I had always treated him well; this saved my life.
The following days brought forth sporadic robberies and looting by Russians and Poles, accompanied by the raping of defenceless women and girls. In the meantime the only Czech who lived in our village returned home. He was one Stanislaus Mikesch, who in 1938 had married the daughter of my neighbour and who, being a fervent follower of Hitler, had moved to our village in 1939, saying that he could no longer live among Czechs. This man was wearing the ordinary uniform of the German "Todt Organization", but with two Communist stars on the collar of his blouse as well as five tricolor ribbons on uniform and cap. The first thing he said was: "I am now the commissar of the villages of Kleinbocken, Grossbocken and Karlsthal," and everybody had to obey him. He immediately requisitioned all my property, consisting of 2 houses, farm buildings, stores, 2 garages for the cars, a weekend house in the woods and a shed for bees with nine bee hives, furthermore 8 head of cattle and 1 calf, 2 pigs, 15 hens, 32 rabbits and 12 pigeons. The value of the goods in stock at the store - according to the inventory - was fixed at 50,000 Marks, which was only 50% of the real figure. The farm was fully equipped with all sorts of machinery. My wife, my daughter and I were forced to continue to work on the property, without being paid and without enough to eat, and only the circumstance that we had hidden food during the breakdown prevented us from starving. Bands of Czechs from the districts of Prague, Pardubitz and Tabor came into our area and occupied all properties whose owners had either been driven over the border to Saxony or had been put into a camp. Some of the Germans had been sent to the interior parts of Bohemia for employment and had, like me, to work together with their families as slaves, without any wages. Now the Czechs lived riotously on our possessions and we had to do the work. It should be mentioned here that each one of them maintained that he had been in a concentration camp. As it turned out later on, all of them had been previously convicted of theft or other delinquencies, none for political reasons. One had 27 previous convictions for theft. Once a commission came from Prague which stayed overnight at our house; the head of the commission said to me: "It is disgusting to see how these Czechs are behaving."
Also on Sundays we had to work all day long for the community's administration, for example demolishing houses the owners of which had already left and which were not good enough for the Czechs. These things happened under the control of the gendarmerie armed with clubs.
On November 24, 1945, those of us who bad been allowed to stay on their property were expelled with only 30 kilos (66 pounds) of luggage within half an hour and checked by the gendarmerie; whatever articles the latter fancied, they took away.
My brother Richard, who had the degree of Doctor of Chemistry and had formerly been the Director of the G. Schicht Works A.G. at Aussig-Schreckenstein, had been in the concentration camp at Aussig since July 1945, without being told why or what for, and his wife, who had studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Paris, was forced to clean the latrines. Their son of 11 was not permitted to attend school; and his father-in-law, 70 years old, who had formerly been the director of the weaving-mill of Regenhart and Reimann, was also an inmate of the camp at Jauernig. A cousin of mine, official at the iron-works at Sandau, was in the Czech concentration camp at Böhmisch-Leipa, his wife and their two small children were expelled across the border into Saxony. I saw with my own eyes how the woman who had been in charge of the local "Frauenschaft" [National Socialist Women's Association] was torn away from her four-year-old child and her hands were fettered, although she had never in her life committed a crime or done anything wrong.
Thousands of Sudeten German soldiers who had been released by the Allies on account of illness were sent to the coal mines by the Czechs without even having the opportunity to see their relatives.
Report No. 227
Reported by: Rudolf Klamert Report of June 24, 1946
I am a war-invalid, and on August 14, 1945 I was arrested in Kleinmohrau and maltreated at the police station for 4 days. The Czechs Chalupa and Kopecký beat me with bullwhips on the bare soles of my feet until I lost consciousness. Then they poured water over me, and beat me all over again. When I said that I had a head injury from the war, one of the Czechs punched me in the head and knocked my head into the wall.
After 4 days I was put into the concentration camp Freudenthal, into solitary confinement. On my arrival, a certain Jarosch gave me 25 lashes with a bullwhip. My friend Rudolf Beck was so badly beaten in this camp that he had open wounds on his back, and then needles were shoved under his fingernails and his fingertips were burned with lit cigarettes. He too was a war-invalid, who had been shot through the lung.
On September 10 of last year we were transferred to the Olmütz prison,
where we were also beaten daily. I spent 8 weeks there. Until November 23 I was
still in the Olmütz labor camp, where I was put to hard physical labor until
a medical exam certified me unfit for work, at which time I was released.