Report No. 339
Reported by: H. K. W. Report of May 1, 1951
On May 25, 1945, two Communist members of the criminal police entered the office of the mayor at Totzau in order to look for the Ortsleiter and the Kreisleiter (functionaries of the local NSDAP), who both were alleged to have hidden themselves in the last house of the village. The policemen then went to house No. 85, which had been pointed out to them; arriving there, they were told that the men they were looking for were not there. Nevertheless they forced their way into all the rooms; they found the nephew of the house-owner, one Josef Kutt, from the neighbouring village of Saar near Duppau. They declared him to be under arrest. Suddenly Kutt fired several shots, killing one of the Communists and injuring the second. He then jumped out of the window and fled. The injured policeman ran bleeding through the village. When he met the mayor, Alfred Schmidt, the Communist shouted: "Why didn't you tell us?" and shot the mayor through the chest. (On the same evening, after Miss Christl Müller, a student of medicine, had bandaged him, he was transported to the hospital in Karlsbad. He recovered, but died later on, shortly after he had been expelled to Saxony.) The Communist reached the post office and reported the incident to the nearest Czech gendarmerie-station.
The following day at 7 o'clock in the morning all the inhabitants of the village were ordered to fall in in the square near the church. In the meantime the Czechs searched the houses; the men were beaten and articles of use were stolen; all this was carried out with much tumult and shouting.
On June 2, 1945, about 7 o'clock in the evening, two trucks with 20 soldiers of the Czech Revolutionary Guard, dressed in parts of German uniforms and with red scarves, drove through the village and stopped in front of the church. Shortly afterwards the order was given that everybody was to gather in the square near the church. A little fearful, men, women and children assembled. The men were told to strip to the waist. After this they had to line up, with the children and women behind them, in rows of three. The commander stood in front of them, holding a pistol, while the others went up and down, equipped with sub-machine guns. The commander, after he had taken several deep draughts from a bottle which he had stolen shortly before in the church, made a speech in broken German, shouting repeatedly: "All of you will be shot to-day! All the Sudeten Germans must die like vermin! I am not afraid, I can endure the sight of blood! All of you will be shot, I say!" Meanwhile the women were chased around, the men tormented. The children were crying loudly. Again and again one could hear the words: "All of you will be shot to-day!"
In order to emphasize this threat, those assembled had to parade again and were then led to the last house of the village. In the meantime terrible things had happened there. In this little house there lived a family by the name of Bartl - Johann and Marie and their children Marie, Willi and Fritz, 17, 15 and 12 years old. These five residents of the house lay dead in the entrance-hall, killed by many shots. Since it was already growing dark, the commander ordered that the corpses should be illuminated with candles, after which men, women and children had to file past and to look at the dreadful sight. Afterwards the corpses were buried without ceremony outside the cemetery.
Between June 2 and 3, 1945, a similar tragedy took place at Kottershof No. 80, a place 20 minutes distant from the village. This was the home of a family by the name of Sacher and also one Mr. Klotz, an innkeeper, who lived there with his daughter Anna Bernt, née Klotz. The Czechs shot down Oswald and Therese Sacher - still under the pretext that the Kreisleiter was hidden there - then followed Oswald's brother, one Konrad Sacher, and the owner of the neighbouring house and his brother; their names were Josef and Ludwig Tobisch. The child of the Sacher family, only a few months old, was found a year later in the nearby cesspool. Details of the murder became known only after some time, for the survivors had been threatened with death if they talked about it. In this very night Mrs. Anna Bernt, née Klotz, Mrs. G. H. from Chemnitz, who was an air-raid evacuee and lived in the same house, and Mrs. Tobisch, the wife of the murdered man, had to wipe up the blood-stains and to bury the corpses in the garden.
On June 5, 1945 carloads of Czech militia arrived in the early morning. They surrounded the village so that nobody was able to leave it; then they roamed through the fields and forests, breaking into the houses, maltreating the inhabitants and plundering. Before noontime the Czech militia dragged along Mr. Klotz, who had lost his mind as a result of the past days of terror, maintaining that they had found a revolver in his house. The commanding officer shouted: "Weapons have been found, twenty of you will be shot! If other weapons are found, the same thing will happen to the whole village." In front of the church there stood a car and by noontime it had been piled full of plundered property by the Revolutionary Guard.
At three o'clock in the afternoon the order was given for the entire population to form up near the inn. On their way the inhabitants were beaten, women who were unable to run fast enough were shouted at: "You German bastards, will you get a move on!" Not only members of the Revolutionary Guard maltreated the people, there were also Czech civilians, equipped with riding-whips, who had come to the Sudeten territories in order to appropriate German property. In the middle of all this chaos in the streets Czech gendarmerie marched up, armed with their automatic pistols. Lashes and kicks rained down on the helpless women: "Hurry up, you German bastards."
A Captain of the gendarmerie read out the names of six former members of the NSDAP, who were forced to place themselves on the other side of the street, facing an old wooden shed. The leader of the troop, a Czech commissar, then went through the lines of the German men, picking first one and then another, until the number of twenty was reached. He often uttered remarks like: "That's it for this German swine," or "You'll have to die too, you blond German," and he selected only tall, blond men and boys. After this, everything the men had on them was taken away; their boots or shoes were removed. They were lashed, beaten with rifle butts and so on, enduring the severest maltreatment. A boy of 17 collapsed. He was revived with a bucket of cold water and the brutes dragged him to his feet again. After these men had been ill-used and tortured for two whole hours, the commandant ordered them to line up in two rows. Then the Czechs faced us and showed us a new, but damaged revolver, which allegedly had been found. The commandant held a short speech, declaring that these men would be shot in the name of the Czechoslovak Republic.
Machine gun fire stuttered, single pistol shots rang out.... and there followed despairing and confused screaming of the women and children.
Gisela Hanl, Totzau No. 59, later wrote to the reporter: "My husband, Otto Hanl, was among those who had to stand against the wall; he was only 30 years old and the father of two children. They took his shoes and valuables and then he was ill-treated for two hours in the most dreadful manner. We could hardly bear to watch it but we were forced to keep our eyes fixed on what was taking place. When they had been beaten half to death, one of their torturers ordered that they should be shot. There they lay in their blood on the ground and we had to bid them farewell in our thoughts. If that had been all that had happened to me, it would have been enough, but I had also to leave my home, just like all the other inhabitants, together with my two children. I left my house and my homeland, which is today isolated and deserted."
Mrs. Rosa Schmidt, living at Totzau No. 60, who was at that time pregnant, reported: "My husband, Ernst Schmidt, had returned from the hospital as a healthy man, but we enjoyed his presence for only four weeks. He himself was also happy to be reunited with his family, especially with his little son Günther, our three-year-old boy. My husband and my little son were among those who waited in the assembled crowd. Then the dreadful moment came. A Czech went through the rows and examined the men with his piercing, hateful eyes; he chose one after the other. I stood paralyzed and the blood in my veins seemed no longer to circulate when he turned his eyes on my husband and tore him away from his family, driving him with lashes and blows from a rifle butt... I cannot describe my grief and anguish on leaving, with my boy, the place where my husband met his death. And when I had to quit my homeland, my last visit was dedicated to his grave."
Mrs. Rosa Schmidt is today an invalid. She was never able to recover her health after her physical and nervous collapse. In consequence of the heavy agricultural work she was forced to do while pregnant, the twins she bore both died; the boy immediately after birth, the girl at six months.
The list of the dead:
Those killed in house No. 85:
Those killed at the farm "Kotterhof":
After many requests it was permitted to bury the bodies of the 20 executed victims in the local cemetery. They were put on three carts to be taken to the cemetery and a trail of blood showed for some time afterwards the way they had gone. A mass-grave was dug and the dead were laid in it. No mound was to mark the place, everything had to be levelled and the squares of turf had to be placed over it just as they had been cut out.
Report No. 340
Reported by: N. N. Report of August 1950
On May 8, 1945, 26 men of a Russian guard unit were quartered on the ground floor of my house. They behaved relatively well and left in the early morning of the following day.
A few days later, Czech SNB-partisans made themselves noticed in a very unpleasant way. These men were mostly students and "intellectuals" from the region of Neupaka and from Prague; they soon began with the searching of houses and interrogations, quite often several times a day. I speak Czech very well, so I could easily answer their questions. As a result of a serious intestinal complaint from which I had already suffered for several months, I had to stay in bed most of the time. Although I showed a medical certificate written in Czech, I was dragged out of my bed one day in the middle of May and forced by blows from rifle butts to work on the demolition of the German barricades. On one of the following days, by order of the superintending SNB-man, I had to strike with a pickaxe a picture of Hitler, which was fastened on a truck, and with each time I had to shout "Heil Hitler". After this I received a violent kick in the back that threw me to the ground. I was bleeding heavily from my anus, but further blows with rifle butts forced me to continue my work. Only after several big barricades had been removed and other similar tasks were finished, were my comrades and I released.
All sorts of riffraff and also Bolshevist soldiers were hanging around, especially at night, so the Národní výbor itself (National Committee) told us to appoint night-watchmen. Those selected received a certificate and a badge. Moreover, we - that is, German men and women - had to carry or drag heavy loads for the Russians.
June 19th, 1945 came. I received an official communication informing me that my 83-year-old mother was to be transferred to Trautenau from one of the neighbouring towns of the former Protectorate (i.e. Czechoslovakia between 1939 and 1945). I was very happy at the news, but I never actually saw her again. She died 18 months later, miserable and in want, in a town near the Baltic Sea.
At noontime three men, who identified themselves as secret-police men Žižka, Doležal and another, entered our house and demanded to inspect it. They left it after a very superficial inspection. Scarcely an hour later several SNB-men forced their way into the house and ordered my wife and me to be ready within a quarter of an hour for some outside work which would last 2 or 3 days. With threats and blows from rifle butts were urged to hurry up. We put on our oldest clothes, packed a few necessities in a rucksack, and SNB-men pushed us out of the door. They then took us to a truck waiting nearby and thrust us into it. A number of acquaintances, women and children between 2 and 15 years, already stood in the truck. Soon the overcrowded truck was shut and we all drove to the little town of Eipel, about 13 kilometers (8 miles) distant. After our arrival there, we were lodged in an old, dilapidated and neglected theatre-hall with dirty and inadequate palliasses. Many persons from Trautenau who had arrived here in the same way only the day before, were already assembled there. About 200 or 250 persons had been rounded up in this way. Very few of us had blankets and food. We spent the first night and the following nights fully dressed and always 2 or 3 persons to a palliasse. There was no tap or water-supply at our disposal and also no latrines. For two days we received no food, but we were allowed to fetch water from the houses in the neighbourhood. Only from the third day onwards did we receive three "meals" a day, consisting of black coffee, a thin soup and a thin piece of dry bread. In exchange for the food the men had to do heavy work in the town from the very first morning, while the women had to clean the streets, latrines and buildings. On the third day of our stay in the Czech concentration camp all of the men were ordered to dig the foundations of barracks destined for us; meanwhile, in our absence, most of the women were handed over as servants to Czech farmers in the neighbourhood of Eipel or were distributed as servants or labourers for the Czech population. The people at Eipel often indulged in mean insults towards us. Jabs and blows from the SNB-partisans who guarded us and even more often from Czech civilians had to be endured. At 6 o'clock in the morning we were taken to our place of work where we remained until late in the evening. The only break was 30 minutes for lunch (hot water, which they called soup, and a tiny piece of bread). But Czech civilians, who felt pity for us, secretly gave us food when they could do so unobserved. On June 21, 1945 - it was a Thursday - we accidentally learned that our wives had been assigned to farmers as menials. I asked the Czech surveyor, one Mr. Hlášek, who was about 60 years old, very politely if this was true, since my wife had my necessities in her bag. Hlášek answered gruffly that this was no business of mine. He called another SNB-man and asserted that I had told him that what was happening here was barbarous. He asked him accordingly to book me for a whipping for next Saturday. This he did, although I politely pointed out that Hlášek's statement was untrue.
Thinking of the whipping which was to take place on Saturday and was to be executed by the notorious Podzimek, I was unable to sleep at night, and thought of escape. Friday afternoon, a radio was playing in front of the open windows of the SNB-barracks. Suddenly the broadcast was interrupted and the speaker of Radio Prague said: "Pozor, pozor, pozor!" (Attention,...) and then something to the effect of: "The Government requests the population to suspend the persecutions of Germans." This was repeated three tunes. Later on the radio was shut off. Two SNB-men stepped out of the barracks and joined Hlášek to whom they remarked on the broadcast, adding that such orders were intended only for foreign countries. They, the SNB, had other directives. Soon afterwards a long-lasting and violent downpour of rain flooded everything, but nevertheless we had to continue our work. We were standing in water up to our knees and were soaked completely through. Mr. Effenberger, an engineer, tried to find shelter from the rain under the jutting roof. Inspector Hlášek drove him back and had him too booked for a whipping the next day.
In the course of the night Effenberger and I discussed how we could escape the whipping and agreed that at the reveille we would immediately report to the doctor, since only a limited number were admitted every day for examination. We succeeded in being booked. When inspector Hlášek called up our names for the whipping, we told him of this. Hlášek threatened us with more severe punishment on our return. A guard took us to the doctor; this was the local health officer by the name of Dr. P.; after we had waited for four hours, he examined the seven or eight of us very thoroughly. We learned that we were all ill and could only be used for light labour. The young manager of the employment exchange then told us that he had enough people for light labour and that he would suggest our being discharged and sent home to Trautenau. We begged him to do so. Here we also obtained the addresses of our wives, who were working for the farmers. They then told us to go to another section of the camp where we received our discharge papers. The wife of my comrade Amler and my own wife were working in the same village (Libnatov), which was situated about 4 kilometers (2½ miles) away.
Together with this man, who had been released at the same time, I escaped without delay in the direction of Libnatov, going by side-roads to avoid running into Hlášek. We found our wives in despair. I talked to my wife and urged her to see the health officer as soon as possible. (As a result she was also released two days later.) The farmer for whom my wife worked even went so far as to point out to me the shortest way to Trautenau, and together with Amler and his wife I hurried home to Trautenau.
The first thing I heard from an acquaintance I met was that our house had been looted on June 19, 1945, immediately after we had left it, and that on the same day a secret-police agent by the name of Žižala had moved in. He was still living there with his whole family and was using my furniture. I found shelter in the house of my former clerk, who gave me a small room. There my wife rejoined me two days later. With the assistance of friends, who helped us with food and clothes, we spent three months there. When this house was also requisitioned, we lived for three further months in an attic and the last 2½ months, until we were finally transferred, we stayed with an old man.
It was the end of July or the beginning of August when I asked Mr. Morawek, my former tobacconist, if he could get me something to smoke. Mr. Morawek lived not far away in a little house near the Jewish cemetery. During the day he was away from home, but returned in the late afternoon. It was for this reason that he asked me to see him at 7 p. m. in his apartment. I was there on time, but Mr. Morawek was late and did not arrive until 8. But no German was allowed on the streets after 8. The day was rainy and it was dark and I intended to make my way by the "Schützenhausgarten" (a garden around the shooting range) so that I might reach my room unseen. - I only waited until the violent shower of rain was over. I had almost reached the exit of the Schützenhausgarten and only a few steps separated me from my house, when suddenly I heard the sound of an engine. I hesitated for a moment by the shrubbery, but was terribly frightened when I noticed that a covered truck was turning towards the gate. I pressed myself quickly into the wet bushes. The truck stopped in front of the terrace of the ruined Schützenhaus, which lay in my view. Soon 5 to 7 SNB-men stepped from the truck, lifted the back tilt and dragged something out which I recognized as fettered and half-naked human bodies. Almost without words, one after another of these unfortunate men was quickly and roughly dragged out; the bodies writhed, but the men were bound and gagged. After they had been thrown on the ground, the SNB-men, exclaiming "rychle, rychle" (quick, quick), dragged them behind the Schützenhaus to the former shooting grounds. There were from 21 to 23 bodies and, as I was able to see, all were men. Soon two bursts of machine gun fire followed, also a number of single shots. The next moment the SNB-men re-appeared, running and carrying the corpses; they threw them into the truck without uttering a word. The driver had remained at the wheel and after they had closed up the car with the tilt as before, they drove at high speed towards the centre of the town. Only when it had grown very dark did I dare to run home.
It was extremely dangerous at that time to mention anything to anybody about such things. A few days later Helene Demuth, a Red Cross nurse, said that she had heard that 15 to 20 Germans had been shot in the Schützenhaus. It became known that hundreds of suicides had taken place. Whole families committed suicide. Every German feared for his own and his family's lives.
Friday, June 15 / 45Dear Gisi!
We have just received your letter of Wednesday. Pech, Müller and Schinkmann and their wives, and many others as well, had to vacate their homes today. Perhaps our turn will come as well, and there will not be enough time to fetch you. The situation is hopeless, and there is nothing left for us but to put an end to it. (NB: rest of letter is in a different handwriting.)
Dear Giserl! Today 72 officials and their wives and children were taken from our village. Their homes and property were immediately confiscated. The members of the National Socialist Women's Auxiliary are next. Papa and I are old and ill, and we can no longer earn our living abroad. Therefore, take heart and follow us. Then we will all be reunited with our Walter.
May God forgive us this terrible sin. There is no other way out for us. If there is enough time I will go to confession one last time on Sunday.
We love you beyond measure, and only ever wanted the best for you. May God grant that we shall meet again in the Hereafter.
Forgive us this unholy act.