Report No. 324
Reported by: Marie Mittmann Report of June 13, 1946
I was arrested in Sternberg on May 28, 1945 in Sternberg. The day before, in my absence, my home had been searched by partisans. On August 25 I received a written summons to report to the secret state police, where I was shown the photograph of a Romanian who had worked with my daughter in Berlin in a cannery. I was asked who the man in the photograph was. I told them, and added truthfully that the man had since died in a bombing raid on Berlin. Then I was sent into a cell. About 16 other women were already there. All of them had also been arrested without being given any reason for it. Two days later I was transferred from the court prison into the internment camp. During the night of August 27/28 I was called up, as Number 890, and led off to the guards. They put a mask on my head and draped a blanket over it. I had to lie down on two chairs. One man held the blanket closed behind my head and pushed my head into the chair. Another man took my clothes off. Then four men beat me on my naked body with rubber truncheons. I received about 35-40 blows. Then I was supposed to stand up. But I couldn't, and dropped from the chair to the floor instead, and since I could not get up I crawled to the door on my hands and knees. I was kicked several times all over my body before I made it to the door. They cursed me obscenely. Then I was threatened that I would have to come back for another beating if I didn't send them other women. I dragged myself back to my barrack and told the others there that if the women didn't go voluntarily to be maltreated, they would be fetched. Four women went to the guard room, where they were beaten the same way I had been. One Mrs. Berger died of the consequences of this beating. Then we were put to heavy labor. We had to load scrap metal, bricks, sand etc. onto wagons, and had to pull the loaded wagons ourselves. I was detained for 5 months in this camp. Often we had to spend half a day "exercising", until the women collapsed. We had to do up to 100 squats, push-ups and other strenuous exercises, even in winter in snow and ice. Our rations consisted only of 200 g of bread and some watery soup daily. There was only one well as source of water for about 100 people. There were no basins to wash in. We were permitted to receive food parcels from our families, but any bread spreads, sugar, baked goods etc. they contained were regularly looted.
On January 9, 1946 I was transferred to Hodolein near Olmütz. The treatment we women received was a little better there, as were the rations after a commission from Brünn had inspected the camps. We were forced to work here as well, but the work was more suited to a woman's physical strength. On June 5 I was transferred from Hodolein back to the Sternberg camp. In the few days I still had to spend there prior to my resettlement [expulsion] I again had to do hard labor.
Reported by: Rudolf Pauler, engineer Report of June 13, 1946 (Sternberg)
Until May 5th, 1945, I was mayor of the town of Sternberg-Olmütz. On this day there took place an attempt on the Kreisleiter's life. Standing next to him, I myself took two bullets in my right arm. I had used all my influence to secure that the town should be surrendered without any resistance and had negotiated to this end with the Wehrmacht and with the "Volkssturm" (comprising all men capable of bearing arms, a kind of last reserve). The surrender took place as I had proposed and almost no lives were lost. On May 5 I was sent to the hospital at Mährisch-Schönberg in order to be operated on. The hospitals of Mährisch-Schönberg were however evacuated on May 6. I was sent on an ambulance train to Tannwald, where, although a civilian, I was arrested at the station by the Russians. This took place on May 13th. I was together with 5,000 soldiers and civilians, and the Russians marched us in the direction of Lauban.
On May 19 I was released at Lauban and - in spite of my injuries - made my way back to Sternberg on foot (a distance of about 500 kilometers = more than 300 miles). On my way I stayed for three weeks in the hospital at Jauernig, where my wounds healed almost completely. On June 30, 1945, I reported to the Czech police at Sternberg. They sent me home and ordered me to report again on July 2nd.
On this day they interrogated me for eight hours in the presence of German Communists. Both the interrogation and the treatment were conducted decently. Following this I was taken to the district court, just an hour after my wife had been handed over to the internment camp. I was detained in the building of the court until December 1945 and was well treated. The same month I was transferred together with 80 other men and women to the camp in Sternberg.
On December 15th a staff-sergeant called me to the guard-room. Arriving there I was ordered to go to barrack I. Four or five men were waiting for me there; the moment I entered the room they ordered me to raise my arm and give the Hitler Salute. When I refused to do so, I was punched 15 times in the face until I fell to the ground. The order to give the Hitler Salute was then repeated. When I refused for the second time I was laid over three chairs and, while one of the guards gripped my head between his knees and another held my legs, I was thrashed with rubber-truncheons. I fainted for a moment. When I was picked up I noticed that the windows and doors were open; I was kicked outside and landed in the snow. After this I was ordered to clean the blood off myself. On December 23rd in barrack II, which was next to the sick-rooms, I was again tortured by the same persons and in the same manner. On the following day I was ordered to do the heaviest type of work. In view of the maltreatment to which I had been subjected in the camp I welcomed the news that I was to be brought before the "Volksgericht" in Olmütz. I left Sternberg on January 9, 1946 along with 300 other prisoners.
Because of my injuries, I was admitted to the sickroom at Olmütz. The conditions in the camp at Olmütz were, if possible, even worse than at Sternberg. The diet was quite insufficient, barrack 10 for example had 4 fast-days within 14 days so that the prisoners became completely enfeebled. Many prisoners were driven by hunger to forage for rotten potato-peels among the garbage. The camp-prison was an unheated structure, formerly an air-raid shelter, in which people were sometimes confined for as long as 14 days; many suffered serious frost-bites, which led to amputations. Prisoners were lashed with whips, hoses etc. for the most trivial reasons. The inmates grew vegetables of various kinds in the camp, which were then sold in the town. Not a single vegetable made it to the camp kitchen. When we had to break up the soil between the camp and the barracks of the Ulan Regiment, we were ordered not to dig deeper than 30-35 cm (approx. 1 ft.) because of the corpses of the slaughtered Germans, alleged to be buried there.
I remained in the camp until June 5, 1946. I was not questioned during this time.
Reported by: Marie Wilhelm Report of June 13, 1946 (Sternberg)
Even though my husband was very ill - he suffered from angina pectoris and paralysis - I was arrested on August 21, 1945 on the pretext that we had weapons in our home. I was detained for six weeks in the court prison in Sternberg and then transferred to the concentration camp. I repeatedly asked that I be released so that I could care for my husband, but this was refused. The first morning in the camp I was slapped about the head for having greeted [a guard] with "good morning".
On November 1, 1945 my husband died. After I was given the news, I immediately had to report for "exercises" (even though I am 58 years old) and to participate for fully three hours, under guard by a watchman who kept a particularly close eye on me. Then I was given two hours off in order to see my husband one last time before the coffin was closed. I was not allowed to attend the cremation, and none of my husband's kin were either.
Then I was constantly maltreated, harassed and rudely cursed in the camp. Once, when I rested for ten minutes after shoveling sand for six hours straight, I was locked into the punishment cell for the night, and choked, slapped and kicked while I was there. One of the guards wanted my wedding ring, but since it would not come off due to chronic arthritis the guard shoved me against a red-hot furnace so that my coat was burned. I spent 9 months in the Sternberg camp. While I was still in the camp, I was given one hour off to bury the urn with my husband's ashes. A guard accompanied me. When I returned to the camp I was taunted dreadfully, ridiculed, and I and my dead husband were cursed most obscenely.
Reported by: Ludwig Englisch Report of June 13, 1946 (Sternberg)
I was arrested on June 21, 1945 without being given a reason, and transferred to the newly opened Sternberg camp on June 23, along with another 14 men. The next day all prisoners were punched and beaten with rubber truncheons etc. in an empty barrack until they bled; in the evening the beatings were repeated. During the night we had to get up several times at all hours and line up in front of our cots for "exercises", during which we were once again beaten. One of the prisoners, Professor Kittel, was beaten more than anyone else. He died of the consequences of this maltreatment.
As of September I had to work in the Krockersdorf mine. Beatings were common there too. Later on, the mine administration forbade the beatings in the interests of safeguarding production.
Report No. 328
Reported by: Hugo Kleinpeter Report of January 7, 1950
On October 7, 1945 three Czechs conducted a house search of my home, even though I was an anti-Fascist. On this occasion they stole 600 RM in bank notes and 300 RM in five-mark pieces from me and a great deal of linen, clothing and other things from my two married daughters and my son. In the course of their search they also found the Eastern Medal that my son had received for the winter campaign against Russia. For this a young Czech beat me for about 45 minutes so severely about the head that I collapsed. My ears were swollen and I had constant headaches for two full weeks. When my wife begged him to stop beating me, he threw her against the kitchen door, and a second Czech held his rifle aimed at her, ready to fire. I was threatened with a pistol and told that if they were to find even the smallest military artifact or a photograph of a soldier during a second house search, they would shoot my entire family.
The people who had been expelled first had not received any food stamps from the Saxon authorities for months, and prompted by the great distress that this caused, a woman who had already been evacuated risked returning across the border in order to beg for some food for herself and her children. On her way back in the dark, around midnight, this woman had wandered off the path for a few steps, fell off a 10-meter [30-ft.] cliff and lay unconscious where she fell. Even though a Czech soldier was standing guard nearby at the bridge crossing and had observed the entire accident, he did not bother about her. Not until the next morning at about 10 o'clock was the woman fetched by some inhabitants of the town, and put into a garage on the orders of the Czechs. She had to stay there without any help at all until a Czech car required the garage space in the evening. And so we had to carry the unfortunate woman, who was still alive, to the cemetery and into the morgue where we had to put her directly on the bare concrete floor. On the orders of the Czech commissar, a grave had to be dug for the still-living woman at the edge of the cemetery. It was the next day before a Slovak shot her and ended her suffering.
One Saturday afternoon in late May 1946 I was driving home from work. It was cold and rained heavily. On the way, still half an hour from my home, I suddenly heard someone whimper in the ditch beside the road. To my horror I saw an old woman lying in the water there. She was soaked to the skin, could not move, and shook with the cold. After I had puller her out of the water I quickly drove home and reported the incident immediately to the Czech Commissar and to the guards. I was told that there was nothing they could do for her and that she'd surely get up by herself again. When I drove back to work again on Monday morning, I found her five steps farther downhill, lying dead in the water. I again reported this to the gendarmerie. The woman was buried in the woods.
In September 1945 my wife and daughter were in the woods looking for mushrooms. They found a woman lying under a tree. She was already half dead from starvation and could no longer speak. She had been among the early evacuees [expellees] and had taken the risk of coming back across the border again to get a bit of food. A car came to pick her up, and we anti-Fascists took her in to care for her. Ten days later, when she was more or less able to walk again, we were ordered to take her back to the border again immediately. So now she was taken half an hour's drive back into the mountains across the border and left to her fate once again. Some time later we heard that this woman had been found dead on the road in the mountains.
I personally know of eight cases where German privates, already dressed in civilian clothes, crossed the border from the Protectorate in order to get to their homes. Many were shot, usually right on the spot. My comrades and I had to bury one of them in the town.
Report No. 329
Sadistic punishment of an invalid
Reported by: Johann Böhm Report of August 31, 1946
For 6½ months, from November 5, 1945 until May
11, 1946, I was detained in the court prisons in Strakonitz and Brünn. I was
never even questioned, nor was I told why I had been arrested. In Brünn I
was boxed about the head and maltreated, as were all the prisoners. As a result of
the inadequate rations I developed dropsy and phlegmone. Since I was unable to
put on my boots due to the swelling in my legs, I and a fellow prisoner traded our
footwear, my boots for his shoes. I was punished for this with 16 days of solitary
confinement, worsened by four days of fasting, in total darkness and without
bedding to soften the floor. The cell was unheated, and the temperature was at the
freezing mark. On May 11, 1946, when I was at death's door, weighing all of 42
kg (I am 1.63 m tall) and with a raging fever, I was transferred to the
concentration camp Klaidovka.