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Königinhof

Report No. 234
translation 
by Victor Diodon and Arnim Johannis.   zum deutschen Originalbericht
Maltreatment and murder in 1945
Reported by: Julius Herrmann Report of June 28, 1950

location of KöniginhofAt the time of the German surrender I was in Königinhof a. E. with my companion through life, Ernestine Merthen, and on Whit Sunday evening we were both arrested there for no reason whatsoever. To start, I want to stress that we were never Party members. We had barely entered the prison before the abuse began. We were sent in groups to work, and the very next day I and several comrades were sent to the cemetery where we had to dig graves for the murdered victims. Our work was made very much harder by the stony soil. The rabble all around us howled and cheered and we were not allowed to rest for even a second, since otherwise the people would immediately call the guard, who came with his submachine gun and beat the prisoners down. Comrade Hetfleisch, accountant with the company Staffa, was working on the grave next to mine. I saw how he was beaten to the ground with a rifle butt. His murderer screamed in Czech: "You German swine, get up!" When he gave no signs of life, water was dumped on him, but since even that did not help he was simply thrown into one of the finished graves, where other victims already lay.

In the evening, after we had returned to prison from this hard labor, we got some black coffee. By that time the morsel of bread which we were given had usually been eaten long ago, for all we got for the entire day was 200 g bread. At noon there was only a bowl of soup. Barely had we finished our coffee in the evening when we were ordered to "Line up!" Standing facing the wall in the hallway outside our cell, we awaited the things to come. Now we were ordered into the yard. We had to run until we could not go on, and then we were beaten senseless.

One day we had to carry logs, 36 to 43 feet long and about a foot in diameter, across the Elbe bridge. There were two of us per log, one in front and one behind. My shoulders were bleeding, but next day we had to do the same work again. Despite my objections, that I could not possibly do this kind of work, I was punched and hit. The flesh on my shoulders was crushed and hung off my bones, but it was not until the next day that I was freed from this painful labor and was assigned an easier task. Once, I and one of my comrades-in-suffering also had to carry a heavy trunk down two flights of stairs. The thug ordered us to "Run!" But since this was impossible, the monster screamed at us and beat us with his riding crop until we had loaded the trunk into the car. Bruises suffused with blood all over our bodies attested to the maltreatment.

Ernestine Merthen was accused of having brought food to SS men. Since this was only a pretext for tormenting and harassing her, she was chased into the yard on Whitsun morning, where seven thugs put their revolvers to her head and demanded that she confess. But since she declared that she was innocent, they said, well, then we'll go into the cellar. Once there, she was threatened that if she did not admit the charge, Russians would arrive within five minutes. But none came, and after a short time she was let out again. About 14 days afterwards, the thugs entered her cell around midnight to fetch her and her companion, Mrs. Lukas, and locked both of them into the cellar. Mrs. Lukas was put into the second cellar, where she received 25 lashes with a five-sectioned leather belt. Ernestine herself got away with three lashes. Then they were threatened that if they did not keep quiet about what had been done to them, they would have breathed their last.

A short time after that she was once again fetched around midnight. This time she had to strip naked in the cellar. Despite much begging and pleading she was hosed down from top to bottom with cold water, and a few days later this was repeated again. After the doctor diagnosed a severe heart condition and bronchitis, she was freed from these tortures. Many of her female comrades suffered the same fate. She had been completely healthy before all this, but thanks to the maltreatment the Czechs inflicted on her she is now an invalid at age 50, since the bronchitis gave rise to a severe asthma.

I also want to mention that we were freed from these torments after 10 weeks, and were sent to the camp from where we were transported off [expelled] after two days. At the border crossing to Bad Schandau the Czech financial inspectors searched us thoroughly once more, and with very few exceptions everything we still had was taken from us.



 

Königshof


Report No. 235
translation by Gerda Johannsen.   zum deutschen Originalbericht
Iron-works at Königshof, labour groups
Reported by: engineer Ernst Deinl Report of August 25, 1946

location of KönigshofOn October 5th, along with about 100 other persons from the district of Mies, I was employed at the ironworks in Königshof via the employment bureau. When we arrived at Königshof, the armed militia attached to the works took us over and kept us like prisoners behind barbed wire. We spent ten months there. 200 to 225 men were lodged in a single room of 20 x 10 x 3.5 meters (about 65 x 32 x 11 ft.). The food ration was so small that we would have been unable to do the hard work without the additional supplies sent by our families. In spite of this the camp drew the ration cards for heavy workers. There was practically no medical attendance, for, by order of the camp commander, no doctor was admitted to the camp; and even if a certificate of incapacity for work had been issued, the commandant would not have accepted it. Correspondence was reduced to such an extent that over a period of ten months only two post cards from my relatives were delivered to me. Packages containing food were looted regularly. We worked 8 hours per day and had to fulfil a certain quota of work; in addition we were worked up to a further 8 hours (unloading of coals, shipping of ore etc.). Although we were not considered to be internees, we received only two "Kronen" as our daily wage. We were paid neither for working on Sundays and holidays nor for our overtime. 14-year-old juveniles were employed on the same terms. They also worked in the night shift every third week. Corporal punishment was officially introduced and became customary. The same conditions obtained for the prisoners of war, who shared our quarters and worked together with us. On our arrival we had to hand over knives, razors and razor blades, money etc., and most of these things have never been returned. American discharge papers as well as identity cards were also never returned.



 

Krautenwalde


Report No. 236
translation by Gerda Johannsen.   zum deutschen Originalbericht
Severe maltreatment of a Social Democrat by the gendarmerie
Reported by: Richard Stanke Report of October 6, 1946

location of KrautenwaldeI have always belonged to the Socialist Labour Party and have never been a member of the NSDAP. In May 1945 I received a card proving my membership of the Social Democrats, issued by the party headquarters. In July 1945 a gendarme stopped me on the street, demanding my party membership card. I refused to show it, as in my opinion he had no right to demand it. He then took me to the gendarmerie and maltreated me severely. He struck me repeatedly, 6 to 8 times, on the head with great violence, pulled the membership card out of my pocket and tore it to pieces. I had a swollen head and swollen eyes for 14 days.



 

Kremsier


Report No. 237
translation 
by Victor Diodon and Arnim Johannis.   zum deutschen Originalbericht
Rapes
Reported by: M. S. Report of August 26, 1950

location of KremsierIn 1939 I took the children who were under my care (I am a kindergarten teacher) on a field trip, and on this trip we sang German songs. An adolescent Czech who happened to pass by objected to this, cursed us, and deliberately tripped the children. I told the young Czech that I would tell his mother about his behavior. Another Czech was watching these events. In 1945 this second fellow reported me to the police. From 1942 until 1945 I had been assigned as Red Cross nurse to the train station service in Kremsier. On May 5, 1945 Czechs arrested me there and threw me into a cell in the Kremsier Court.

In this cell there were 30 other people, including women and their children. Every night we were awakened five times, and the first few times we were also looted and robbed of our possessions. Every morning at 6 o'clock a Czech gendarme showed up and led us all out into the prison square, where the women and children had to line up on the left, the men on the right. After a despicable ritual of beatings we were herded off, despite the pain, to forced labor. Our rations consisted of 50 grams [1¾ oz.] bread per day, a cup of black coffee in the mornings and evenings, and at noon some watery soup that was distributed from pig-slop buckets. First we women had to clean the barracks and carry the furniture out of the upper stories. While I was working on this, a Russian led me away, saying "Your last hour has come," and presented me to a Czech officer. The two of them argued over me with the Czech prison commandant, and I was then handed over to the Národní výbor. On that day I was imprisoned again, and they shaved me bald and painted a large swastika on my bare back with oil paint. Then I and other imprisoned women were sent out to work on the fields, every day and regardless of how hot it was (we were forbidden to cover our heads or to receive water to drink while working). We were called "German sow", German whore" etc. In the cell we had to sleep on the hard floor. After the harvest and field work were finished I had to do hard labor for an entire year, first as a mason, then in a brickworks.

When my strength gave out and I repeatedly fainted while at work, I was assigned to clean a school instead. Then I was taken to the People's Tribunal in Hungarian Hradisch, where I was sentenced to five years imprisonment as per § 3 (having sung German songs in 1939, etc.). The Czech judge's defense, namely that I had only tried to protect the children under my care from being attacked, was rejected by the People's Tribunal - with the reason that Germans have no right to defense.

I fell ill, with pleurisy and constant heart spasms. For these reasons I was put to lighter manual work, like sewing.

I did these lighter jobs for three years, and I would like to mention that even in winter I had to do them in an unheated room, so that I sustained frostbite on both my hands. Then I was ordered to work in a laundry storage room. We women were raped at all times of the day, our shirts simply torn off our bodies. We had to comply immediately, as the slightest hesitation was physically helped along, to the words, "How long are you going to take?" I would rather not go into detail about what kinds of bestial sex offenses took place, which the German women had to submit to with silent revulsion (it was no exception for the men to force their privates into our mouths etc.).

While I was working in this laundry storage room I was informed that I was to appear in a Prague court as witness. I was taken to Prague, and there to Pankratz to be interrogated, and I had to testify to the rations and treatment of the inmates in the prisons. 14 days after this interrogation I was transferred to Reichenberg, from there to Jitschin into the prison, and from there to Semil for forced labor. In Semil I had to work for a year in a spinning mill, side by side with hardened criminals. A dispatch arrived from Reichenberg: "convicted in error" - and so I was released from Semil on May 5, 1950, but only two hours later members of the SNB arrested me again and kept me in "preventive detention" until May 27, 1950. On May 27, 1950 I was released, and found myself on the street without any civil rights and with only the clothes on my back. The International Red Cross took me in as a living corpse, emaciated and exhausted, and placed me in a recovery home in Teplitz-Schönau, from where I was able to set out on August 5, 1950 to go to my stepmother in Bavaria. My brother had to raise 2,000 Kc for me for the trip.

I also want to mention that the imprisoned women (in the Kremsier prison) had to line up every evening in the prison square, where the Russians looked them over, chose "you, and you, and you", etc., and dragged them off into the cellar to rape them. Afterwards these victims were thrown back into the cell, and always the same ones were taken back again after every three days for the same purpose. My friend T. was raped 30 times in a single night. In the mornings the imprisoned German women, men and children had to line up and shout in unison: "We are reporting for work and request payment in advance." This payment consisted in the most horrible abuse and maltreatment. Then the tormented victims had to call out, "Thank you for our payment!" There was one 80-year-old man who had been so maltreated that he could no longer sit. He begged on his knees, with clasped hands, for a rope with which to hang himself, and we were not allowed so much as to give him a drink of water.

In 1945 children who had been in the Hitler Youth had to go out at night and dig up the bodies of Russians who had fallen in battle and been buried in the vicinity, and then had to rebury them in a cemetery.



 

Kunzendorf
(near Moravian Trübau)


Report No. 238
translation 
by Victor Diodon and Arnim Johannis.   zum deutschen Originalbericht
Administrator Matonoha of Boskowitz, looting
Reported by: Josef Zeche Report of September 26, 1946

location of Kunzendorf and Moravian TrübauSince November 1945 my farming estate in Kunzendorf near Moravian Trübau had been in the charge of the Czech administrator Franz Matonoha from Boskowitz. He not only tormented my family in the most inhumane manner, but also harassed the entire village. My wife was paralyzed due to a spinal injury, but he showed her no consideration at all. He badly maltreated my daughter when my son had escaped from the Moravian Trübau concentration camp. He raged at us for every little thing, and held us responsible for everything he felt went wrong. He conducted inspections and searches of all the houses and stole everything he liked in the process. When we were to be resettled [expelled] he kept back our best things and made us make do with old and worthless items.



 

Kurim
(near Brünn)


Report No. 239
translation 
by Victor Diodon and Arnim Johannis.   zum deutschen Originalbericht
Prisoner-of-war camp
Reported by: Dr. Kurt Zamsch Report of June 23, 1946

location of BrünnOn October 6, 1945 I returned to my home in Moravian Schönberg from Russian captivity, where I had been released for health reasons (permanent unfitness for work due to malnutrition, body weight of 54 kg [119 lbs] even though I am 184 cm [6'] tall, and fluid in both legs). On my arrival in Brünn on November 4 I was detained by the Czechs and taken to the Czech prisoner-of-war camp Kurim. There, too, I was declared unfit for work, but nonetheless I repeatedly had to help bring in firewood. That meant a day's march of 24 km [15 miles] while carrying heavy loads. It surpassed my strength, and once (on January 14) I collapsed while doing this work. I was then urged on with blows from canes and had to march the rest of the way to our destination, albeit without being loaded down.

In the camp, beatings were the official mode of punishment, and every minor thing was punished with beatings so that the prisoners were totally bullied. Our rations were comparatively generous (800 ccm/3 cups thin barley soup and 500 g/1 lb bread per day), but entirely without salt or fat.

The Kurim camp had been opened in early October 1945 and by the time I left it in February 1946 there had been 750 recorded deaths, at an average camp population of 2,500. In February I was sent to the recuperation camp Kutiny. The rations were the same, but the treatment we got was considerably better. There was no corporal punishment there, and we were not obliged to do hard labor. Within three months, 75 of the 1,000 men there had died. Most of the inmates had contracted their disabilities in the coal mines or in the Batta factories in Zlin.



 

Report No. 240

translation by Gerda Johannsen.   zum deutschen Originalbericht
Camp, report of the camp physician
Reported by: Dr. Alfred Schenk Report of August 18, 1946 (Kurim)

location of BrünnI was released from Russian captivity at the end of October; on my return I was arrested by the Czechs at Brünn and appointed as surgeon to the "recreation camp" at Kurim. In this capacity I had the opportunity to observe the hygienic and sanitary conditions particularly in this camp from November 1945 to March 1946. 600 inmates of the camp died of malnutrition during this period. Germans who had been sent from Zlin to Kurim were physically nothing but wrecks, of whom 50% died. During winter there was such a small quantity of fuel at the camp's disposal that not even the rooms for medical attendance could be heated. Soap for cleaning the bodies of the sick or for laundry purposes was not available. Tuberculosis broke out in the camp and 200 of my patients were affected. In spite of their weak condition the inmates of the labour barrack were forced to work and were often ill-treated by the guards when they could not accomplish their quota as a result of their physical state. While under arrest, numerous prisoners contracted frozen limbs which necessitated amputation. Corporal punishment was officially introduced; as a result of this I had cases of bruising which required attention for weeks. As to prisoners arriving from Zlin, the medical treatment given was so improper that it quite often resulted in complications (amputation of fingers, cases of blood-poisoning, thromboses, gangrene). Even for the sick the food consisted almost only of barley without meat, prepared without fat or salt, so that a recovery of those dangerously ill was rendered impossible.



 

Langenlutsch


Report No. 241
translation by Gerda Johannsen.   zum deutschen Originalbericht
Murder of a war invalid
Reported by: Aloisia Ille Report of September 26, 1946

location of LangenlutschMy son had been badly injured in the war, his leg was amputated, and he was blind on one eye. His injury occurred in October 1943. As an invalid he was employed as clerk in the office for registration of the army at Zwittau and later on he trained the "Volkssturm" [sort of last reserve, comprising all men capable of bearing arms] at Türnau. On June 2, 1945 he was arrested by the Czechs, and on June 3, 1945 he was already dead, according to a notice from the mortuary, stating that he had been buried on June 4. I myself heard of his death only 4 weeks later and I still have no death certificate. An eyewitness, one Hlawatsch from Langenlutsch, told me that he had seen my son being dreadfully knocked about. He had also seen him lying in the mortuary.



 

Liblin


Report No. 242
translation 
by Victor Diodon and Arnim Johannis.   zum deutschen Originalbericht
Woman maltreated
Reported by: Herta Kaiser Report of November 4, 1946

location of Liblin and KralowitzI was supervisor at a Mothers' Rest Home in Liblin near Pilsen. On May 5th of last year the Národní Výbor informed me that the guests of the Rest Home would be transported off by the International Red Cross. On May 8 I and another woman and two men were arrested and tied by our hands to a car that drove to Kralowitz, fast enough that we had to run to keep up. A Czech bicyclist drove alongside us and spurred us on with a whip. On the Kralowitz market square we were handed over to the civilians there for maltreatment. We were punched in the face and about the head, and spat on. After eight days I was sent to work in a coal mine, and had to stay there for seven months, sleeping in a hay shed on the bare earth floor. I was the only woman there, and had to transport materials with a wheelbarrow, and later I had to do the cooking. On January 3rd of this year I was sentenced to 8 years imprisonment for having been the supervisor at the abovementioned rest home. The indictment did not specify any particular transgression on my part. For five months I was detained in the Women's Prison Repy, where we were treated very maliciously. Then I was sent to the labor camp of an artificial silk factory in Theresienthal, where I was suddenly the only one to be resettled [expelled], quite contrary to my expectations. I have none of my possessions left at all. In Jitschin, before being resettled [expelled], I was issued some old clothes and underthings that are barely usable.


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