(in the Adler Mountains)
Report No. 300
Reported by: Director Pischel Report of July 31, 1950
When individual units and formations of the Silesian army passed through our little town on May 7 and 8, 1945, we knew that the catastrophe could only be a few days away at best. Alarming news abounded. The inhabitants stood outside their houses, and fleeing was impossible. Already Czech partisans had occupied all the streets, and disarmed our soldiers. Anyone who made even the slightest attempt to resist was shot. And in fact the Russians followed hard on the heels of the German troops, and thousands of artillery, tanks and motorized troops poured across the crest of the Adler Mountains, filled the mountain towns and, rushing towards Prague, overran the German troops.
But when the Czech partisans occupied our home town we had to witness horrible misdeeds. Anything that wasn't nailed down was stolen, and almost all men, regardless of their age, were arrested and maltreated terribly and dragged into the prison. The one-man cells were soon filled to bursting, and so the subsequent prisoners were taken to the barracks. It is simply impossible to describe what took place there. Many Germans sought to escape the dreadful maltreatment by committing suicide. May 19, 1945, the Saturday before Pentecost, was a particularly black day. The already half-starved prisoners, I among them, were herded to the barracks to work. For example, pairs of two each had to carry heavy wall units down the stairs, across the large barracks square, into other buildings and back up the stairs there. Partisans stood everywhere and beat the unhappy people with sticks, iron bars, rubber truncheons, bicycle inner tubes and rifle butts, with no regard for where they hit us. Blood ran from my many head wounds into my eyes and across my neck and down my back.
Many collapsed under the blows and were beaten and kicked while they were down. I myself once had more than 20 lumps on my head and two deep cuts on my arms. Since we got almost nothing to eat, we were soon totally debilitated. Even our town priest was arrested repeatedly and severely maltreated. Church services were banned and the Church locked. Finally he was committed to the state prison in Königgrätz.
More and ever more people - women, too - were still being brought to the prison from the surrounding towns. Interrogations began, accompanied by constant maltreatment. The architect Hermann was gunned down by partisans just a few steps away from me. Hitler Youths 10 to 14 years of age who were among the prisoners, and who had already been beaten green and blue, had to bury him behind the barracks in a shallow grave. I myself was led behind the barracks twice, and was to be shot there. But since I showed no fear, they beat me dreadfully with their truncheons instead and herded me back to the other prisoners. A cell in the barrack had been set up as torture chamber. Every evening inmates were dragged from their cells and tortured to death there in the most cruel and brutal ways imaginable. Often they were given up to 50 blows with heavy sticks. The well-known city physician Dr. Rudolf Wanitschke suffered a terrible fate; after several unsuccessful attempts to commit suicide, he was literally beaten to death here. The unconscious victims were regularly doused with a pitcher of cold water and thrown back into the cell, where the cold brought them back to consciousness. The torture was repeated for several days, until the unfortunate souls eventually died from blood loss or were shot. In the evening the murdered were buried in shallow graves in the vicinity of the town. Their next-of-kin were not notified of their loved ones' deaths.
Other than Dr. Wanitschke and the architect Hermann, men of my acquaintance who were brutishly murdered here include Franz Gregor, the head of the Municipal Savings Bank, my brother Wilhelm, Alois Kubitschke, watchmaker, Gottwald, the lessee of the Schwarze Adler, Spanel and Leichter, both staff members of the Employment Office, senior teacher Jörka from Groß-Stiebnitz, the teacher Spanel from Ober-Riebnei, Heinrich Letzel from Himml.-Riebnei, and many others.
The merchant Finger, master butcher Willi Pöter, and Fritz Habenicht (sawmill owner of the former Frosch Mill) were abducted to Senftenberg where they were first brutally tortured and then hanged. Those men who escaped death were taken by the Czechs to the hastily-set-up concentration camps, 51 of them, where they had to do heavy labor, for example down in the mines, while receiving only lousy rations and constant maltreatment. Many died in these camps, or suffered permanent damage to their health. Many died on or after their return, for example the forestry administrator Scherz and old man Kotisa's son-in law, Mr. Cernoch.
The misery of those who had remained behind reached its highest point thanks to the unexpected expulsion from their homeland, which began like a bolt out of the blue with no advance notice on June 5, 1945, as Rokitnitz was the first city in the Sudetengau where the German population was expelled.
Those poor people were going about their business unsuspectingly that morning, when the partisans invaded their homes and forced them to leave all they possessed behind, with the exception of only a few minor things they could carry.
Painfully, old and sick people dragged themselves to the collection point, urged along by curses and roars from the partisans. At the collection point everyone was closely searched, in other words robbed of anything and everything that had even the slightest value - small keepsakes, what little cash they had, children's clothes, and bedding.
Around 3 o'clock in the afternoon this pathetic procession moved across Ring Square, accompanied by the jeering gibes of the Czechs who watched the heart-rending spectacle with laughing enjoyment. Many Czechs stood by the wayside with their cameras to snap a photographic record of the event. At Herrenfeld and Batzdorf the heavily armed partisans herded the expellees across the border bridge and left them to their fate. On the second day our procession reached the Silesian city of Habelschwerdt, where the Red Cross took over our care and housed us in barracks. Habelschwerdt as well as the entire region of Glatz was under Polish occupation. The same conditions as we had experienced during the last few weeks in our homeland, also reigned here. In March 1946 the expellees and the Silesians of the region were jointly resettled [expelled] by the Poles.
Report No. 301
Reported by: Ottokar Montag Report of June 21, 1950
At 6 o'clock, on her way home, she passed the former German College, which had been turned into Czech soldiers' barracks. Suddenly, in the dark, she was confronted by an officer, who spoke to her in Russian. Thinking him to be a Russian, she tried to run away. Immediately the officer signalled with his whistle; 6 soldiers ran out from the nearby barracks and a wild chase after her began. The officer was a Czech lieutenant by the name of Bischof, a former member of the Legion. Although man-handled on the street by all 7 men, my daughter managed to escape several times. She appealed to passers-by for help, without success; Germans dared not to help her for fear the same would happen to them, while Czechs laughed and enjoyed the show.
My daughter came within 50 metres (110 ft) of her flat, but then her strength deserted her. She was hit and kicked in the back and kidneys, was dragged to the barracks, taken into one of the rooms there and ill-treated by the officer in the most horrible way. He forced her to the ground several times and dragged her round by her hair, asking: "Are you going to do my bidding?" She received several blows in the face, so that blood kept streaming down, besmearing the officer's uniform from head to foot. The floor showed smears of blood where my daughter had been dragged about. In between she was forced to stand at attention and to shout: Long live Adolf Hitler! She received more blows because she did not shout it loud enough to be heard all through the barracks. As a result of one blow in the stomach she fainted. She does not know what happened to her while she was unconscious. When she came to, lying on the floor, the officer kicked her in the breast. Two Czech soldiers had to watch her ordeal. One of them put his hands before his eyes because he could not watch the horrible scene. It was with the help of this soldier that she finally managed to escape. She collapsed as soon as she reached her home. Her face was covered with blood and quite unrecognisable. The Czech landlord looked after her. Later he took her to the police and reported the incident. He was reprimanded for having helped a German. The case was recorded, but the victim was not allowed to sign. She was sent to hospital for a medical report, but no action was taken against the officer. We lived with this landlord and his wife, who were humane in mind and in their actions, on the best of terms until our expulsion. We were allowed to keep several rooms, all fully furnished. Every effort to take them away from us was frustrated by him.
American border official for Furth im Walde
Reported by: Wank, border commissar for the refugees from Furth im Walde
Report of April 10, 1946 (Römerstadt)
a.) from Römerstadt.
Many refugees could be found in every one of the railway coaches of our transport who were no longer in possession of their passports or identity cards, as these had been taken away from them in the camps where they had assembled, also all documents, commercial papers, employment certificates, social insurance papers and especially policies of insurance companies.
The babies did not receive warm milk on the trip, the milk provided was for the most part unboiled.
Mrs. Trampisch of Römerstadt was attacked in her own apartment by a member of the R. G. (Revolutionary Guards) and received a black eye, because she refused to allow this man to search her luggage, which he was not entitled to do. He, however, broke into the flat and appropriated the most valuable articles out of the luggage.
b.) from Iglau.
Identity cards, passports etc. of most of the participating persons were missing, also marriage certificates, documents of inheritance, business licenses, policies of insurance companies etc. These documents were taken away from the people in the camps with the assurance that they would be given back before they left the camp. But this promise was not kept, although the people asked for their property. Even wedding-rings were taken away. The luggage of this transport was the poorest so far. Some of the people possessed only what they stood up in.
In some cases they were able to take along two sets of underclothes or perhaps one suit when they left their homes; others were carrying their entire property in a rucksack, not more than 10 kilos (22 pounds) in weight. A few of those in the transport were in possession of luggage weighing 30 kilos (66 pounds) at the most.
All this misery was caused by the fact that the refugees had been expelled from their houses in the country by the Czech Agents without being given time to pack and to get together the 50 kilos (110 pounds) of luggage permitted.
Some of the men who had been prisoners of war or had been in jail had not even been allowed to return home in order to fetch their luggage, but were taken directly to the camps where they were assembled for transport. Some of the women were sent away without their husbands who were kept back in labour camps or in jail. So many of the women had serious complaints that there was not enough time to record them all.
The following is the case of a child who is reported as having been expelled without his parents:
Franz Zaboj, born on January 19, 1938, was transferred without his parents, who were held in the district prison of Iglau.
Report No. 303
Reported by: Franz Voit Report of June 5, 1946
I was arrested in Roßhaupt on June 20, 1945. In the Czech school there, I and four others were punched, kicked and beaten with rifle butts. Then we were committed to the Tachau District Court. That same day, in the time from 2 o'clock p.m. until 11 o'clock p.m., I and all the others there were beaten nine times with rubber truncheons and bull whips. We were maltreated naked, and to the point of unconsciousness each time. They always forced me to lie belly-down on the floor, and then four men beat me, beginning with my head and moving all the way down to my feet. Whenever I came to again, I found myself lying on my back, and my front was also covered in welts. The next day I and the others were maltreated yet again seven more times between 5 o'clock a.m. and 1 o'clock p.m. Then we were handcuffed and shipped off to Pilsen. In Bory Prison, we - 19 men and two women - were asked who had been planning to blow up the barracks in Tachau. When none of us answered, we were again beaten up, this time by Czech convicts. This was repeated three more times. Then we 19 men were locked into a joint cell, where we were once again beaten by guards. The next day we were beaten three more times in the cell. I sustained four broken and two cracked ribs. I was bleeding from an open head wound, and my nasal bone was injured. After eight days, we were locked in groups of two into one-man cells, with only a straw sack and a blanket. The food we got was insufficient, and mostly inedible. At least there was opportunity to wash. In September a fifth man was locked into our cell with us. He was a Czech, about 60 years old, and had scabies and lice. After 5 days he died without having received any medical care. We too came down with scabies and had picked up the lice, and had to lie 6 weeks in our cell without medical attention, so that finally our arms and legs were covered with festering sores. Only then were we treated by a German physician, and the scabies disappeared in about a week. On September 24 my cellmate Johann Blei, 46 years old, succumbed to sepsis and died while I was holding him.
On December 21, I and 50 other men were transferred to the Karlov labor camp. From there I was sent out to go to work, until I was released to go home on April 17, 1946.
Report No. 304
Reported by: Rudolf Berthold Report of August 26, 1949
I am from St. Joachimsthal, and was personally acquainted with Kroupa. At my expulsion on August 20, 1945, Kroupa turned up at my house "Sonnenblick" No. 924 in the company of four armed men and two women, and demanded that I hand over to him all my money, jewelry etc. and then vacate my house within 20 minutes. To my question whether he had any written authorization or order for this act of violence he replied with vicious threats. Kroupa gave himself such airs that I could not help but think that he was the city commissar, which was also public opinion, and so I had to succumb to force and was robbed of all I owned. Like the rest of the inhabitants, I was forced, on pain of being shot, to attend the execution of M. Steinfelsner, to which I am therefore an eyewitness. I can take these facts in my oath, as can the housekeeper Frau A. Martinez who is presently staying with me.
Reported by: Otto Patek Report of August 25, 1949 (Sankt Joachimsthal)
The revolution began in May 1945 in the Sudeten area. That was the signal for the persecution of the German population to start. One Franz Kroupa, formerly a worker in the tobacco factory of St. Joachimsthal, was appointed as Chairman of the National Committee. Kroupa was one of the greatest enemies of Germans and Jews. He personally took part in visits to German apartments, houses, etc. It was he who decided who was to be arrested or liquidated. My house was searched twice. The first house search was carried out by Czech military, who behaved very decently. The second search was carried out by the gendarmerie by order of Kroupa and under his personal leadership, pistol in hand. All my wardrobes and cupboards as well as all other storage places were broken into and looted. The guests who stayed at my house were rounded up and robbed. Although they could find no grounds for prosecuting me, I was taken to the police station, supposedly in order to sign a protocol. All my jewellery, watches, gold and silverware as well as gold and coins from my shop and some boxes of valuables which had been stored in the cellar during the air raids, furthermore some luggage belonging to the patients at the health resort, were all carried off in two waiting cars. I was brought from the police station to the well-known camp at Schlackenwerth, a matter which was decided by Kroupa.
In this camp I was together with 37 other Germans and all of us were brutally mistreated. The same day as I arrived at the camp, I was led to the ball-room of the former restaurant "Zum Franzosen"; there the prisoners were stood against the wall and had already been so badly beaten that they were bleeding. I was told to stand in line with the others. The Czechs then closed all the doors and placed two sentries with automatic pistols, trained on us. We were ordered to strip to the waist and then the Czechs started to beat us with rubber truncheons, leather and steel whips as well as sticks, until strips of flesh were hanging from our bodies and we were covered with blood. Whenever one of us collapsed, buckets of cold water were poured over him until he regained consciousness; they then continued the beating. In this manner we were ill-treated three times a day and three times during the nights. In the night between June 5th and June 6th, 1945, at about 10 o'clock, eleven or twelve Czechs entered the ballroom and brought a bench as well as blankets with which they covered the windows. The first one they seized was Johann Müller, a watchmaker from St. Joachimsthal; they laid him on the bench, slashed off both his ears with a knife, put out his eyes, thrust a bayonet into his mouth and smashed his teeth in. They also broke his arms across their knees and his legs over the bench. Since he was still alive, they wound a cable twice around his neck and dragged him through the room until his neck was dislocated and the body showed no further sign of life. While the body was being dragged around, a Czech stood on it so as to increase the load. The corpse, which was nothing but a mass of bloody flesh, was then wrapped in my coat and laid in the middle of the room. In the same manner six other men were killed that night, among them three German soldiers. After the death of each man they continued to beat us with rubber truncheons. Since I speak some Czech, I was forced to witness the killings while the others had to face the wall. The murdered men screamed terribly, for they were fully conscious at the time of their death. In consequence of what they were forced to witness three prisoners went out of their minds and I myself was close to madness. Among the victims of that night there were, besides the aforementioned Müller, the watchmaker Kraus, a forester, and Zechel, a master joiner from Joachimsthal, as well as a Sudeten German unknown to me. All arrests and imprisonments at St. Joachimsthal were carried out on the orders of Kroupa. The killing was to continue the next day, but as a military commission arrived, the murdering was stopped.
From there I came to another camp at Karlsbad and to Neurohlau; I was imprisoned for a total of 17 months. I could not be released earlier, since Kroupa at Joachimsthal prevented it.
On June 4th, 1945, on the day of my arrest, Mr. Steinfelsner, owner of the sawmill at Joachimsthal, was publicly hanged in front of the town hall without any proper legal proceedings. Every German inhabitant of St. Joachimsthal was "invited" under pain of death to attend the execution. The taking down of the body is supposed to have taken place by order of American officers, who drove through Joachimsthal. My family had themselves seen American troops driving through the town.
My wife did everything she could to secure my release by showing documents to the camp commander, but she was expelled by the gendarmerie at the instigation of Kroupa with only 20 minutes notice, without even a coat and with only 7 Marks in cash, so that she was unable to take any further steps.
I herewith declare that my statements are in accordance with the truth and that I am also
to take them on my oath.