Sudeten German Inferno
The hushed-up tragedy of the ethnic Germans in Czechoslovakia
s we stand at the threshold of a new millennium, we look back on what is perhaps the most terrible century in the history of mankind.
A chapter in its own right is the expulsion of the Sudeten Germans from their homeland. Theirs was ancestral German land which had been inhabited by their German forebears for at least 2,000 years1 and of which their centuries of hard work and diligence had wrought a paradise.
In time, Czechs trickled into the region, and soon the invaders tyrannized and oppressed the good-natured Sudeten Germans, with the intent to eradicate them, as the following accounts clearly show:
“The district physician of Graslitz, a district with a population of 25,000, reports officially and on his professional responsibility: black barley-malt coffee without milk or cream is the food that babies are given, and older children get coffee, bread and potatoes. The children are undernourished and anemic. They have no clothes. Entire families live in cramped holes where the floor is the only place to sleep.
“In winter there is no coal with which to heat. Mother, give me some water, I’m so hungry, beg the children – and the physician (who clearly feels that this will perhaps be disbelieved) says that he can take it on his oath that this is a direct quote, and that there was cause for it. In one family of six – parents, three children and a mother-in-law – the family members literally go naked. They have neither stockings nor shoes, nor shirts. They live on black coffee for breakfast, soup for lunch, and there is no supper. They are slowly but surely dying out. In the Adlergebirge mountains the people supplement their bread with tree bark, while the government orders tons of grain dumped into the Moldau river to keep the prices from dropping. A large part of the population has been eating cats and dogs.”2
And what was the public response to this? “Embarrassed silence abroad, and at home, vile incitement against all those who allegedly sullied the Czech nation’s reputation with their warnings.
“Now it was clear that the Sudeten Germans were supposed to be wiped out, for economic impoverishment plus social ruination, plus political hopelessness, plus national chauvinism on the part of the Czechs, added up to the destruction of the essence of the Sudeten German ethnic group, despite all Sudeten German efforts to ward this off. The systematic displacement of the Germans from the employment scene resulted in a catastrophic drop in the birth rate.” 3
This is how matters stood in the Sudetenland when it was forced to become part of Czechoslovakia in 1918. And if Hitler had not restored the Sudetenland to the German Reich, the genocide of the Sudeten Germans would already have been a fait accompli even then. Yet despite all this, the two ethnic groups, the Czechs and the Sudeten Germans, lived peaceably together during the Third Reich. This fact casts a highly significant light on the character of the Sudeten Germans: after all, they could have taken revenge now.
But after the end of this deplorable war, in 1945, the tables once again turned to the disadvantage of the unfortunate German population, and the Czechs in their godlessness were seized by a blood frenzy that could not possibly have been any more gruesome.
They must have been possessed by the devil: who else could have guided their hands as they celebrated slaughter feasts and intoxicated themselves with orgies of murder? Whose voice was it that ranted from the lips of their ‘men of God’: “You can kill the Germans, that’s no sin!” Were those God’s words? Surely not. I myself heard such a call to mass murder as it was being preached from the pulpits of the German churches by the Czech ‘servants of God’ in those days.
The Czech President Eduard Benes, back from exile in London, incited the already-crazed population via the radio: “Take everything from the Germans, leave them only a handkerchief to weep into!” In Prague Germans were hung head-down from the lamp posts and set on fire as living torches in Benes’s honor. Ever since, the number of victims has been cited as 250,000. “Files from the SBZ/German Democratic Republic which were not accessible until 1990 showed that this figure was actually much higher and must now be set at no less than 460,000.”4
And now, half a century later, a “New Order” is to be established. Over the decades, the Sudeten Germans’ suffering was mentioned less and less, until finally the topic was banished into the darkest corner of history’s broom closet by the German government itself. This government now supports the Czech Republic’s admission to NATO; it reassures the Czechs that the Sudeten German expellees make no claim for restitution, and the Czechs need not even renounce their Mr. Benes’s disgraceful decrees. That is nothing less than legitimatized genocide, for in just one more generation there will be no more Sudeten Germans – the survivors have become assimilated by the rest of the German population. At the same time the Czechs grow ever more brazen and even demand “restitution” from the Germans! For what, is beyond me. As though it were not enough that they stole the land and the people’s wealth – goods of inestimable value – they let this former gem of a region go to rack and ruin and even want to be paid for it!
On this putrefaction, a “New Order” is now to be built; on a foundation of unatoned-for crimes, festering wounds, and the bitterness of the unfairly treated! And this is supposed to end well? I doubt it will.
Herta Ruthard, eyewitness
robably all civilized nations on earth agree on one point: man, the most intelligent being in Creation, bears sole responsibility for everything that happens on our planet – with the exception of such acts of nature, of course, as are beyond human influence.
And so our incarnation – or anthropogenesis, if the reader prefers – brought with it an unconditional cosmic morality that progressed to cultural levels whose degree and promise varied with the races and tribes that sprang up in the course of mankind’s development. While some pursued their genetic impetus to the pinnacle, others have remained in spiritual narrowness and intellectual inadequacy, at a stone-age level to this day. Others again, however – particularly tribes and peoples that developed in a tradition of warlike violence – have retained incomprehensible sadism, inhuman cruelty as indestructible and unfortunate characteristics.
In the sixth century A.D. the Czechs advanced into Central Europe in the footsteps of the Awars, without at first forming a unified tribe or nation. Even today the physical appearance of many Czechs reveals their genetic mixing with the Awars. But the bestialities engaged in by their oppressors is another factor of which they were never able to rid themselves completely. Even once they had begun to develop their own ethnicity they continued to manifest these inherited vices. Particularly since the Hussite wars of the 15th century, and right to the present day, they have tended towards open or (more often) clandestine cloak-and-dagger activity. Yet they have their German neighbors alone to thank for anything and everything they can boast in the line of culture and civilization.
Since achieving ethnic unity this nation has fluctuated between the extremes of obsequious servility and hate-filled presumptuousness. It may be that this nation, wedged as it was right into the living space of the Germans, found itself backed into a moral corner where its baser instincts gained the upper hand. Virtually paralyzed by the unequaled creative genius of their larger German neighbor, the ambitious Czechs developed those complexes which, when additionally fueled by envy and resentment, have resulted in their well-known explosive outbursts. And this soul-deep unease is the driving force behind their boundless chauvinism. Only in this way can their most regrettable characteristic – their occasional blood frenzy – be explained.
Throughout the many centuries that the Germans coexisted with the Czechs in Bohemia and Moravia there was not one single case of a German having killed a Czech out of hatred or revenge. In contrast, what the following chapters describe can hardly be surpassed in its bestiality, or in its death toll of 241,000 German lives!
This would truly be a subject fit for television – yet all the world’s media have studiously ignored it for more than 50 years now, for indeed these mind-boggling atrocities were followed up with what may justly be called the crime of the century: the comprehensive expulsion of the entire Sudeten German ethnic group from their homeland which they had settled and made arable seven and even more centuries earlier. And this global crime was part and parcel of the Allied crusade for “Christianity and humanitarianism”!
his book documents the realization that the outburst of sadism in May 1945 in Czechoslovakia was an unparalleled world record of torture and murder that claimed the lives of half a million Germans (241,000 civilians and 250,000 soldiers).
Sadism manifest itself both in individuals and in entire cultures. The German social psychologist Erich Fromm has concluded that collective sadism may often be found in frustrated social strata that suffer from a sense of powerlessness.
The Hussites roasted in their prisoners in pitch-covered barrels. Centuries later, the Czechs of May 1945 burned wounded Germans to death as living torches, hung upside down over blazing fires.
A curious duplication.
In the time of the witch-hunts, women were beheaded or burned for allegedly having slept with the Devil. The imaginary devil of those days has become reality in the form of the serial killers of our time; the victims of the witch hunts were paralleled in May 1945 in Czechoslovakia by innocent German women.
It is understandable that posterity wants nothing to do with crimes it did not commit. But then it can also not presume to freeload off the murderers’ blood-spattered loot. The Czechs of today have been made the receivers of goods gained through robbery and murder on a gigantic scale. The gift their forefathers left them is a two-edged sword. Anyone who cannot acknowledge their guilt will never be rid of it.
In spring of 1994 the Neue Kronenzeitung, Austria’s largest daily paper, brought a series of exposés titled “Schreie aus der Hölle ungehört” – Cries From Hell, Unheard. This book continues that series with further, detailed accounts. May it help to fill in the historical gap that has been so well hidden for more than half a century.
The author is especially grateful to Alexander Hoyer, Herwig Griehsler and Maximilian Czesany for their invaluable help.
1Alois Bernt, Die Germanen und Slawen in Böhmen und Mähren. Spuren früher Geschichte im Herzland Europas, Tübingen: Grabert, 1989, pp. 15-16, 21; Emil Franzel, Sudetendeutsche Geschichte, Augsburg: Bechtermünz, 1997, p. 16; Armin E. Hepp, Völker und Stämme in Deutschland. Von der Steinzeit zum Mittelalter, Tübingen: Grabert, 1979, p. 196; Hans Krebs and Emil Lehmann, Sudetendeutsche Landeskunde, Kiel: Arndt, 1992, maps p. 46; Erich Linnenkohl, Die Wenden und die “Slawen” genannten Völker. Sprachliche Widerlegung der These von den “slawischen Völkern”, Frankfurt/M.: R. G. Fischer, 1995, p. 9, 12; Hans Riehl, Die Völkerwanderung. Der längste Marsch der Weltgeschichte, Munich: W. Ludwig, 1988, map pp. 160ff.; Malcolm Todd, The Early Germans, Oxford/Cambridge: Blackwell, 1992/95, p. 6 fig. 1. …back…
2Reinhard Pozorny, Wir suchten die Freiheit, Vlotho/Weser: Verlag für Volkstum und Zeitgeschichtsforschung, 1978, p. 179. …back…
3ibid., p. 174. …back…
4Fritz Peter Habel, Eine politische Legende, Munich: Langen Müller, 1996, p. 18. …back…
Sudeten German Inferno
The hushed-up tragedy of the ethnic Germans in Czechoslovakia
Conspiracy of Silence
he Federal Convention of Sudeten Germans has offered a prize for the best movie script written to portray the horrors of the expulsion. But will it be possible? The historical records exist: a grisly documentation, the mere reading of which is enough to cause nausea.
But nevertheless it will hardly be possible to turn it into a movie true to life. It might be possible to reconstruct death marches and mass executions, to show bodies with their noses, ears and private parts cut off, wounded being thrown out of windows, people being roasted head-down over open fires. It might be possible to portray the naked women, on their knees being whipped through the streets of Prague strewn with glass shards. It might be possible to film the thousands of women that were thrown into the rivers Moldau and Elbe together with their children and baby carriages and then raked with machine gun fire. It might be possible to use dummy dolls to represent the heads of the dead mothers and babies still sticking out of the filth of the camp latrines where they had been thrown, until they were finally covered over by the excrement of their fellow-sufferers. It might even be possible to show bloody bundles of tortured people on the ground being forced to swallow human excrement, and gags covered in such excrement being forced into their mouths.
But who would be able to recreate the screams of the Germans whose torn bodies were rubbed with hydrochloric acid, who were beaten until their private parts were reduced to bloody lumps? Who is to recreate the screams of the women, whipped bloody, who were shoved naked, rear down, onto SS daggers? Hundreds of thousands went through this hell of torture before they were beaten to death or shot. Specifically: 241,000. The number of soldiers who died in the course of this outburst of sadism is probably no less.
And that was only part of the gigantic massacre in the East and Southeast.
In his comprehensive and dispassionate work Deutscher Exodus (Seewald Verlag), Gerhard Ziemer writes:
“According to a very painstaking calculation of the Federal Statistical Office in Wiesbaden, the German civilian population lost 2,280,000 members to flight, expulsion and deportation. These people were shot or beaten to death or died of hunger and exhaustion in the labor camps of the deportation process in the East.”
“The number of victims of the expulsion never impacted on public awareness in the East or West. Even in Germany only a small minority is aware of it. It has not become a topic for journalism and the mass media like the victims of Fascism and the persecution of the Jews have.”
The statistics and documentation of these monstrosities have remained unknown. Official German authorities do not mention or publicize them even when Eastern or Southeastern countries make demands for restitution.
It would be easy to say that the events in the East and Southeast were a just and fair response to the previous National Socialist misdeeds. But were the people in Prague, Warsaw and Belgrade called to avenge the Jewish fate on innocent Germans? Was it right to speak of “liberation” and then to eradicate entire population groups? To expel 15 million people from their homes?
People utterly ignorant of history try to excuse that eruption of hatred with the suppression of Czech sovereignty. But if that were a viable argument, then the Sudeten Germans could well also have massacred the Czechs in 1938; they had been deprived of their own sovereignty and their right to self-determination for not seven, but 20 years. Nevertheless they did the Czechs no harm whatsoever in 1938.
If suppression of sovereignty were really to justify bestial genocide, then the South Tyroleans as well would have the moral “right” to slit their Italian masters’ throats. For some 60 years now they too have been deprived of their sovereignty and their right to self-determination.
The Republic of Austria was born in the throes of political unrest. 6 million Czechs forced 3.3 million Sudeten Germans, 2 million Slovaks and 700,000 Hungarians into their ethnic dungeon.
And thus it began…
Self-Determination Drowned in Blood
he tragedy of the Sudeten Germans began 60 years ago, with the collapse of the multinational Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. Millions of people were imbued with the desire for self-determination, which the American President had led them to believe was their right.
When the Monarchy collapsed and the constituent parts were struggling for a new formation, the German local government officials and mayors of the Sudetenland already took their oaths of office in allegiance to the Republic of Austria. In the last days of October 1918 the Sudeten German parliamentary representatives had already constituted the provinces of “Sudetenland” and “German Bohemia” and had annexed these directly to Austria.
In the days that followed, however, Czech troops in Austrian uniforms occupied the defenseless and totally demilitarized Sudetenland, despite vigorous protests by the entire German population. Local resistance – which sprung up despite the express wishes of the command posts of the People’s Army, stationed in Vienna, and the newly formed Sudeten German provincial government – achieved only small-scale successes and could not prevent the course of things to come. The occupation was accompanied by hostage-taking and brutally violent measures; local resistance was even quashed with artillery fire, arbitrary censorship was inflicted on the press, district councils were dissolved, and the entire Austrian state property was “expropriated”.
On March 4, 1919, the Austrian National Assembly solemnly convened its first session in Vienna. Czech troops forcibly prevented the participation of Sudeten German representatives.
In large-scale demonstrations the public now demanded freedom and democracy, and that right to self-determination which the Allies had declared to be one of their own aims of war. The Sudeten Germans congregated at these proclamations unarmed, informed by their faith in their right. But then the incomprehensible happened. On Czech orders, Czechs in uniform shot at those gathered together. The crashing of hand grenades accompanied the salvos of gunfire and the screams of those mortally wounded – 54 dead and hundreds of injured remained lying in the streets. Among the places where this happened were Arnau, Aussig, Eger, Kaaden, Mies, Karlsbad, Sternberg and Freudenthal. The 54 dead included 20 women and girls, an 80-year-old man, one youth of 16, one of 13 and one only eleven years old! This bloody event that ought to have shaken the world to its foundations remained without echo.
Later, to justify the use of armed force, it was claimed that the Czech executive powers had acted in sudden, nervous panic. They had not; they had acted on an order given by the Prague Ministry of the Interior, instructing them to prevent the proclamations with force of arms. That explains the fact that the shooting of participants in these demonstrations took place everywhere at almost exactly the same time.
In this way, demonstrations that might have attracted world attention were to be thwarted once and for all. Any attempt at exercising the right to self-determination drew immediate gunfire. After March 4, another 53 Germans fell victim to Czech bullets. More than 2,000 gravely wounded were taken to hospitals. That was the beginning of the sham democracy along the Moldau River (“Vltava”). The cries for self-determination had been drowned in blood.
Monument to the right to self-determination, Gmunden (Austria), erected in 1931, destroyed in 1945; created by Prof. Ludwig Galasek. The inscription on the front reads: “For the right to self-determination. Erected in remembrance of our homeland, and dedicated to the city of Gmunden by the Sudeten German Heimatbund, Whitsun, 1931.”
The Dead of March 4, 1919
n the following we record the names of the Sudeten Germans murdered on March 4, 1919 – shot by Czech officers for their belief in their right to self-determination.
Killed on March 4, 1919: Age Where
Anna Sachs brewery master’s wife 41 Arnau
Aloisia Baudisch laborer 16 Arnau
Franz Jarsch butcher 60 Aussig
Josef Christl student 18 Eger
Grete Reinl student 18 Eger
Franz Schneider shoemaker 52 Kaaden
Josef Wolf day laborer 51 Kaaden
Erich Benesch master spinner 30 Kaaden
Andreas Benedikt baker 46 Kaaden
Franziska Passler tanner’s wife 46 Kaaden
Anna Rott plumber’s wife 41 Kaaden
Marie Ziener seamstress 18 Kaaden
Arianne Sturm seamstress 24 Kaaden
Karl Tauber student 14 Kaaden
Ludmila Doleschal seamstress 26 Kaaden
Leopoldine Meder dressmaker 28 Kaaden
Karl Lochschmid student 11 Kaaden
Paula Schmiedl student 15 Kaaden
Wilhelm Figert room painter 22 Kaaden
Oskar Meier apprentice 16 Kaaden
Julie Schindler servant girl 17 Kaaden
Berta Meier seamstress 40 Kaaden
Aloisia Weber office assistant 20 Kaaden
Marie Stöckl laborer 23 Kaaden
Ferdinand Kumpe day laborer 15 Kaaden
Hugo Nittner electrician 18 Kaaden
Marie Loos housewife 54 Kaaden
Kath. Tschammerhöhl laborer 49 Kaaden
Theodor Romig student 17 Kaaden
Paul Pessl student 18 Kaaden
Johann Luft railwayman 28 Mies
Rosa Heller private 24 Mies
Alfred Hahn accountant 19 Karlsbad
Ferdinand Schuhmann laborer 56 Karlsbad
Josef Stöck laborer 44 Karlsbad
Michael Fischer laborer 37 Karlsbad
Wenzel Wagner bricklayer 30 Karlsbad
Wilhelm Reingold merchant 52 Karlsbad
Josefa Bolek laborer 37 Sternberg
Hermine Kirsch laborer 37 Sternberg
Amlia Neckel laborer 38 Sternberg
Otto Faulhammer locksmith 18 Sternberg
Matthias Kaindl apprentice 16 Sternberg
Alois Länger coachman 42 Sternberg
Rudolf Lehr roofer 16 Sternberg
Franz Prosser turner’s assistant 28 Sternberg
Ferdinand Pudek laborer 56 Sternberg
Ed. Sedlatschek civil servant 46 Sternberg
Josef Simak laborer 48 Sternberg
Emil Schreiber typesetter 18 Sternberg
Richard Tschauner tailor 26 Sternberg
Josef Laser retired 80 Sternberg
Franz Meier baker 36 Sternberg
Bruno Schindler laborer 68 Sternberg
Among the dead of March 4 were 20 women and girls. There was one 80-year-old, but also 16 persons aged 19 or younger, two of them were only 14, one was 13 and one as young as 11!
In the time from 1918 to 1924 another 63 Sudeten Germans lost their lives in this way. They came from Wiesa-Oberleutensdorf, Gastdorf near Leitmeritz, Brüx, Moravian Trübau, Kaplitz, Znaim, Pressburg, Freudenthal, Arnau, Oblas near Znaim, Pilsen, Pohrlitz in South Moravia, Leitmeritz, Iglau, Zuckmantel, Asch, Aussig and Graslitz.
Sudeten German Inferno
The hushed-up tragedy of the ethnic Germans in Czechoslovakia
The Karlsbad Program
xcerpts from Professor Dr. Berthold Rubin’s book War Deutschland allein schuld: Der Weg zum Zweiten Weltkrieg. Rubin was historiographer at the University of Cologne.
Page 112: Meanwhile, the “Sudeten German Party” continues to grow. The Prague government’s policy of suppression has as its result a consolidation of the Sudeten Germans, who are firmly resolved to fend off the threats to their ethnic group. At the community elections on April 22, 1938, the Party wins 91.44% of all German votes. Two days later, on April 24, the historic Party Convention takes place in Karlsbad, and Konrad Henlein announces his famous Eight Points.
“If matters in the Czechoslovak state are to progress peacefully, then it is the conviction of the Sudeten Germans that the following state and judicial order is necessary:
1. Full equality of rights and status with the Czech people.
2. Acknowledgment of the Sudeten German ethnic group as legal entity to maintain this status of equality within the state.
3. Definition and acknowledgment of the German settlement area.
4. Development of a German self-administration in the German settlement area, relevant to all aspects of public life insofar as they pertain to interests and concerns of the German ethnic group.
5. Institution of legal measures for the protection of those citizens living outside the closed settlement area of their ethnic group.
6. Elimination of the injustices inflicted on the Sudeten Germans since 1918, and rectification of the harm and damage already sustained through these injustices.
7. Acknowledgment and implementation of this matter of principle: German civil servants for the German areas.
8. Full freedom to acknowledge and maintain our German ethnicity and our German world view.”
In his commentary on these Eight Points Henlein pointed out at the Conference that Czechoslovakia’s obligations under international law followed from President Wilson’s well-known 14 Points, from the memoranda of the Czech peace delegation to the Peace Conference, and from Dr. Benes’s note of May 20, 1919, as well as from the Peace Conference’s statements in this regard, and from the national treaty of St. Germain of September 10, 1919.
It is remarkable that neither Henlein’s Karlsbad address nor any of the Eight Points make any mention of the Sudetenland’s wishing to break away from the Czechoslovak state formation. In other words, the Sudeten Germans, despite all oppression, were still resolved at this point to remain part of this state. Ought the Czech state not to have immediately seized this opportunity which the German minority of three-and-and-a-half million offered it at the last minute? The Czech leadership would have been well advised to do so, and accepting Henlein’s Eight Points would not have hurt them any. Added to this is the fact that, only a few weeks later, English and French delegations in Prague urged emphatically that the Czech state should accommodate the wishes of the German ethnic group. In this context it bears mentioning that the British Ambassador in Berlin at that time, Sir Henderson, suggests in his book Failure of a Mission (well worth reading) that the Prague government’s immediate acceptance of most of the Karlsbad Program would have been quite possible. As Erich Kordt1 remarked: “There can be no doubt that, by refusing the Karlsbad Program, the Czechoslovak government played right into Hitler’s hands.” Thanks to the course set by Prague, the return of the Sudeten Germans to the German Reich became inevitable.
Initially, Hitler exercised restraint in the Sudeten Question. On March 29, in other words before the Karlsbad Party Convention, Henlein met with Karl Hermann Frank, Dr. Kuenzel and Dr. Kreissl for discussions in the Foreign Office in Berlin. The minutes of this discussion (Pol. I 789g (IV) Secret) contain the following passage:
“It is up to the Sudeten German Party to make those demands of the Czechoslovak government whose fulfillment it considers necessary to achieve the freedoms it wishes. The Reich Minister (Ribbentrop) stated that it could not be up to the Reich government to give Konrad Henlein, the leader of the Sudeten Germans – expressly recognized, and reconfirmed as such by the Führer – detailed suggestions as to which demands might be made of the Czechoslovak government. It is necessary to draw up a best-case program whose ultimate goal is to achieve full freedom for the Sudeten Germans… The government of the Reich must decline to appear to the government at Prague, or to London or Paris, as pacemaker or representative of the Sudeten German demands. It goes without saying that in the course of the coming discussions with the Czechoslovak government the Sudeten Germans are fully in Konrad Henlein’s hands, that peace and discipline must be maintained, and that rash acts are to be avoided…
“The task of the German envoy in Prague would be to act not so much in an official capacity as in private discussions with the Czechoslovak statesmen, to support the demands of the Sudeten German Party as reasonable, without exerting any direct influence on the extent of these demands. The discussion then turned to the expediency of an alliance between the Sudeten German Party and the other minorities in Czechoslovakia, especially the Slovaks. The Reich Minister decided that the Party must be free to maintain a loose association with other minority groups whose parallel action might be advantageous.”
This protocol is interesting and historically very significant because it shows that in spring of 1938, shortly after the annexation of Austria, Hitler had no intention of uniting the Sudetenland with the Reich, but rather of leaving it in the Czechoslovak state union – albeit with the grant of far-reaching autonomy in the spirit of the Karlsbad Program. This again goes to show how very different these events would have turned out if the Czechoslovak government had been more reasonable and shown more of a statesmanlike sense of responsibility, and had accepted the Karlsbad Program, which left the Czechoslovak state wholly inviolate.
Munich Agreement – Protectorate
he 1938 annexation of the Sudeten German regions to the German Reich proper, which took place with the participation of France and England, was thus no more than the putting-right of injustices dating from 1918. Regions that had been German for almost a millennium were included in a larger German sphere. This boundary region – the later Protectorate boundary – corresponded precisely with the linguistic boundary between German and Czech, and the votes of 98.9% of the Sudeten Germans confirmed this at the plebiscite of December 4, 1938.
Not a hair of a single Czech’s head was harmed in the process. In contrast to the expulsion of the Sudeten Germans in 1945, there were also no forcible evictions. Every Czech was free to claim his right to live wherever he pleased.
In his book War Deutschland allein schuld? (Munich: DSZ-Verlag, 1987), Prof. Dr. Berthold Rubin wrote about the Munich Agreement and its consequences:
“After the Agreement has been signed by the four statesmen, England and France, in a rider clause, assume responsibility towards Czechoslovakia to guarantee her new borders, while Germany and Italy, in another rider, give the same guarantees, to take effect as soon as the matters of the Polish, Hungarian, Slovak, Carpatho-Ukrainian and Ruthenian minorities in the remainder state are settled.”
The Czechoslovak government by no means carried out its own obligations, and half a year later Slovakia suffered gross interference from the central government at Prague, and the forcible dismissal of four Ministers on March 9, 1939 – the climax of the Czech-Slovak crisis.
On page 153 of the aforementioned book we learn of Hitler’s September 26, 1938 speech in the Berlin Sportpalast, and his admonition to the central government at Prague to find a prompt and peaceful solution to Czechoslovakia’s entire minority issue:
“… and further, I have assured him [Chamberlain] that in the very instant when Czechoslovakia solves its problems – that is, when Czechoslovakia has dealt with its minorities, and peacefully so, not by oppression – in that instant I will lose all interest in the Czech state and we will guarantee its borders. We don’t want any Czechs, but we do want a full, satisfactory and final settlement of the minority question, no uneasy compromises, and absolutely no constant trouble spot at the heart of Europe!”
But the Czech government let this precious time go by unused, and could not be bothered to solve this grave minority problem, least of all as quickly as possible.
After Slovak President Josef Tiso called on Hitler on March 13, 1939 to request his aid and support in achieving independence for Slovakia, the Slovak Parliament, convened by Tiso and Dr. Durssansky, unanimously voted for independence from Prague on March 14, 1939. With that, the Czech republic fell apart and all the guarantees given by England and France lapsed, as did those promised by Germany and Italy for after the resolution of the minority problems.
Just as is the case with regard to Slovak President Tiso, it is also alleged that it was Hitler who “ordered” the March 14, 1939 visit from the then Czech President Emil Hacha. Secretary of State Otto Meissner, who was present at that discussion, stated: “The initiative for Hacha’s and his Foreign Minister Chvalkovsky’s trip to Berlin came strictly from the Czech side.” What is particularly significant about Meissner’s report is that Hacha’s and Chvalkovsky’s trip to Berlin followed an explicit decision by the Cabinet when he elected, on the evening of March 13, 1939, to request a personal discussion of the political situation via the German chargé d’affaires (p. 203). The Sudeten German Social-Democratic Representative Wenzel Jaksch commented similarly in his book Europas Weg nach Potsdam: “… in view of the ever-worsening situation on March 14, 1939, Hacha felt that it was necessary to request that discussion with Hitler.”
England acknowledged Slovakia’s separation from the Czech whole as a voluntary act of the Slovak people’s representatives. This disproves the false claims of the foreign press, that Tiso had allegedly been “ordered” to Berlin on March 12, 1939 and that Slovakia had then declared independence “under duress” from Hitler.
That same world that vented such outrage at the inclusion of seven million Czechs in the German Reich of more than 80 million had previously, and for a span of 20 years, not only tolerated the enslavement of eight million non-Czechs by seven million Czechs in the ethnic dungeon of “Czechoslovakia”, but also bore the blame for the creation of this state in the first place.
No Czechs were expelled in 1938
xcerpt from: Dr. Heinrich Wendig, Richtigstellungen zur Zeitgeschichte, issue 5, pub. Institut für deutsche Zeitgeschichte, Tübingen: Grabert, 1993.
No Czechs were expelled in 1938
The expulsion of the Sudeten Germans from their homeland after 1945 is rationalized by, among other things, the mendacious claim that following the Munich Agreement of September 28, 1938, Czechs were “expelled” from the Sudetenland, which was then annexed by the German Reich. But there was never any such expulsion, and particularly not in the time from 1938 to 1945.
The fact is that in late 1918, aside from the German minority, some 160,000 Czechs lived in those regions of Czechoslovakia that would later be affected by the Munich Agreement; in May 1939, however, official statistics place their number at approximately 320,000, i.e. fully twice as many. They had come to these regions and also to purely German towns and villages as officials or teachers, for example. Their purpose was to “Czechify” these regions – to counteract their German character and to make them Czech.
After the Sudetenland’s annexation many of these immigrants moved back into their Czech homeland, the future Protectorate. But not one of them was expelled. A number of dissidents – German functionaries and members of the German Social-Democratic Party – also left the once-again-German regions because they did not wish to live under National Socialist rule. Many of them then emigrated via Czechoslovakia to the West. They too were not expelled, but left voluntarily.
In a March 17, 1992 letter to the editor of the Prague daily paper Lidove Noviny, Stanislav Aust, a witness to those times, responded to an editorial in this paper in which “expulsions in 1938” had been mentioned: “As eyewitness, I must reject the lies that were contained in the article titled ‘Munich and the Legal Order’. Our family was very active against Henlein, and we were not forcibly expelled; we fled out of fear of potential persecution. In Czechoslovakia proper we were registered as refugees, not as expellees. Those that did not choose to leave did not have to. Many in Trautenau weathered the occupation. Our family’s house remained our possession, and the German tenant continued to pay his rent regularly. It was June 1945 before the house was taken from us, by a member of the Revolutionary Guard, and my parents had to go to great trouble to get the house back. The claim that the property of Germans who had remained loyal to the Republic was not confiscated (in 1945) is more than ridiculous.” (From the German translation in Deutscher Ost-Dienst, no. 12 of March 27, 1992.)
Soviets storm the Moravian capital city Brünn
1Diplomat in the Foreign Office since 1928; 1936, First Diplomatic Secretary to Ribbentrop in London; 1938-1941, Chief of the Ministerial Office in the Berlin Foreign Office. At the Nuremberg Tribunal he admitted having stood in active opposition to the National Socialist regime since as early as 1936. [In this context, see also our publication Worm in the Apple! -Scriptorium] …back…
Sudeten German Inferno
The hushed-up tragedy of the ethnic Germans in Czechoslovakia
Establishment of the Protectorate
n the early morning hours of March 15, 1939, the German troops moved into Czechoslovakia. There were no incidents of violence whatsoever, neither with the Czech army nor with the civilian population. The Czechs received the German soldiers in silence, but without resistance, while the German inhabitants in Prague, Brünn and other cities with a sizable German minority greeted their fellow-countrymen with cheers of joy. The next day, on March 16, 1939, the “Decree Regarding the Bohemian-Moravian Region’s Status Under National Law” was proclaimed.
The degree of freedom and independent existence which the German Reich allowed the Czechs in the Protectorate becomes evident from “Neues Staatsrecht II”, issue 13/2, by Dr. W. Stuskart and Rolf Schiedermair, respectively the Secretary of State and the Assistant Department Head in the Reich Ministry of the Interior, on p. 90 of the 19th edition published by Verlag Kohlhammer in Leipzig in 1944:
“Administration of the Protectorate.
It is part of the National Socialist view of people, ethnicity and race, to respect the ethnicity of foreign peoples. From this view, which is fundamentally different from that of the ruling power in former Czechoslovakia, it follows that the Reich guarantees the Czech people the autonomous development of their national life in accordance with their own unique nature.
1. The Protectorate is autonomous and administers itself. Within the framework of the sovereign jurisdiction to which the Protectorate is entitled, it exercises its autonomy in accordance with the political, military and economic interests of the Reich (Article 3):
i. Besides the head of state, the Protectorate has its own government, and other branches and divisions to exercise its sovereign rights. It is also up to the members of the Protectorate to determine their form of government. The Czech people may create for themselves the form of government which best suits their national character.
ii. The Protectorate has its own flag.
iii. The autonomous administration is carried out via the Protectorate’s own authorities, with their own officials. These officials are not Reich officials: they are not sworn in with an oath of allegiance to the Führer.
iv. The Protectorate has its own legal system.
v. The Protectorate may muster its own units (7,000 men) to maintain internal security and order.”
In essence, what the Czechs in the Protectorate were legally guaranteed was exactly those rights which the leader of the Sudeten Germans, Konrad Henlein, had requested in his well-known Eight Points on April 24, 1938 in the 44-member Parliament at Prague, but had never been granted.
ll the world likes to publicize and draw attention to this major German crime of the destruction of the Czech village of Lidice near Kladno. Erich Kern, author of the book Deutschland am Abgrund, comments as follows (p. 160):
“On September 22, 1941, SS-Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich, the deputy Reich Protector of Bohemia and Moravia, had come to Prague. In an astonishingly short time he had won the Czech workers’ and peasants’ trust, and strove systematically for a complete reconciliation between the German and the Czech peoples.”
In his account of the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich, British historian Alan Burgess – who is otherwise exceedingly pro-Czech – describes the situation as follows:
“The Western powers could no longer expect that resistance would continue. With each passing day Czechoslovakia slipped further into the Nazi camp… The Czech secret service saw only one means left to it to interrupt the course of events and to show the world that Czechoslovakia was again on the side of the Allies. While the sham regime bowed and scraped before the Nazis and accepted their caresses, as it were, partisan paratroopers were to drop unnoticed from the sky and to abruptly chop off the caressing hand. Such an incredible provocation would show the Germans that they were dealing with a defensible people who were far from defeated.”
Heydrich had to die.
Jan Kubis and Joseph Gabcik were citizens-in-exile of Czechoslovakia and had fled to England. They had been trained as paratroopers, for which reason they were chosen to carry out the assassination of Heydrich in the pre-noon hours of May 27, 1942 in Prague.
A general state of emergency was declared that same day, and a curfew was imposed for the hours from 9:00 pm to 6:00 am.
Nine days after the attack, Heydrich succumbed to the injuries he had suffered from the hand grenade shrapnel. The officially recorded cause of death: anthrax???!
Lidice was chosen to be made an example of, even though neither Kubis nor Gabcik had gone into hiding there. Some of their accomplices came from Lidice, but had had nothing to do with the assassination.
In the early morning of June 10, 1942, 30 Czech gendarmes of the Prague police, acting on German orders, executed 174 men aged 16 years and up. The women and children were sent to the concentration camps of Ravensbrück and Auschwitz. In this context it is alleged time and again that Lidice was destroyed by the Waffen-SS. That is false. In fact, not so much as a single unit of the Waffen-SS was used against Lidice! (Kern, Deutschland am Abgrund, p. 165.)
Wenzel Jaksch’s Appeal to Benes
n June 22, 1942, after plans for the expulsion of the Sudeten Germans had become known, Wenzel Jaksch (a Sudeten German Social Democrat in exile) wrote the following letter to Dr. Edward Benes, the Czech President in exile in London:
“Dear Mr. President!
For reasons I hardly need spell out, I have waited until this day to convey our resolutions of June 7, 1942. Let me assure you that the recent terrible events in our homeland have greatly dismayed us as well. Nothing has changed in our feelings of friendship towards the Czech people, and we mourn their casualties as though they were our own. For this reason I ask you, Mr. President, to please take note of our protest, a transcript of which is enclosed. It was announced in a radio broadcast and is surely also made in the name of our best comrades, who have been the target of harsh persecution since October 1, 1938.
However, grave circumstances compel me to try with this letter to achieve a political clarification which can be postponed no longer. Our political resolution records the utterly negative results of all discussions held to date.
It expresses our representatives’ profound embitterment at the kind of treatment our movement has experienced since Munich. The degree of dismay which the current propaganda for a mass transfer of the Sudeten Germans has called forth in our ranks is difficult to describe, Mr. President. Naturally such measures would be directed at the population of entire regions, and thus would also affect circles that held out heroically in the conflict with Nazi Fascism both before and after the decision at Munich.
Our people are well acquainted with struggle and hardship and they have not failed to notice the difference between the English proposal of punishment of the guilty, and the intent of Czech policy to achieve gains in national power far beyond any settlement of affairs with the Nazi criminals. Given the deep roots which our working population has in their homeland, it is clear that the evacuation of entire regions could be arranged only with brute force and against the unanimous resistance of all political forces that will be present after the collapse of Nazi rule.
Dear Mr. President! It is with a heavy heart that I must inform you of the full extent of our concerns. The sooner this is made clear, the better: the program of population transfer will be a dangerous cue for the outbreak of a civil war along the Bohemian and Moravian linguistic border. There are other ways to atone for the Nazi crimes. There will be a reckoning-up in the Sudeten region as well – our dead, and the many thousands of our best men who survived the horrors of the concentration camps, vouch for that. Settling the account with the Nazis will offer no grounds for the inevitably indiscriminate expulsion of the population of entire border regions. A population transfer would be an indiscriminate revenge, and I wish to put this to you quite openly, Mr. President: that would mean the destruction of any and all foundations for democratic cooperation for a generation to come.
In light of these dangers it is not an easy decision for us to abandon the moral legacy of a long period of national cooperation.
Many things may be forgotten today, but the annals of history show that a million Germans stood by the Czech people in the fateful years of 1937-38.
The fact that the Catholics and the Landbund Party capitulated after the collapse of Austria warrants a more lenient judgement if one considers how demoralizing the attitude of large Czech parties was to the German population. The heroism of our working people has made up for many of the weaknesses manifested in other sectors of the activist camp. Our population can face the Czech people with the clearest conscience in the world. Their casualties, and the activities they continue to pursue despite constant persecution, are points in their favor which cannot be ignored in drawing up the final account of the battle against Hitlerism. Permit me, Mr. President, to summarize these thoughts into a single argument:
We believe we may take some of the credit for the Czech democracy having fallen heroically.
In his most recent book, Dr. Hodza has admitted that as early as autumn 1937 he had offered Henlein the right to hold community council elections and thus relinquished the entire self-administration of our border regions to him. If our party had not decided to participate in local elections anyhow – virtually alone, and despite the danger of internal betrayal – the international propaganda war and the fate of Czechoslovakia would already have been lost in spring 1938. It would then have required no Runciman mission and no decision at Munich, and even the last heroic gesture of the September mobilization would have been denied the country. Any objective analysis of these tragic events will confirm that our organization still held the Sudeten region politically when the state bureaucracy had already more or less given it up.
These are the reasons, Mr. President, why my comrades are deeply embittered by the lack of response which the good will openly shown by their legitimate representatives has received abroad.
In the consciousness of duty one hundred percent fulfilled, they do not care to be discriminated against in comparison to Slovak representatives in government or in the council of state – representatives whose authority is no greater than our own. In this context, dear Mr. President, I refer to the exchange of telegrams in London on September 27 and 28, 1941, to illustrate how a token of honest good will remained unanswered and how a fund of personal trust in the hearts of worthy people was destroyed. Perhaps I may add, and not without justification, that I despair at how Czech policy is tending towards a dictatorship directed against old allies who had stood by the Czech people when they had been abandoned by all their other friends.
I may summarize this inducement to our latest resolution with the following observation:
The wholly negative position taken by the instruments of the temporary Czechoslovakian state in matters of mutual agreement, even in terms of political and economic interim solutions, deprives our attempts at rapprochement of all foundations.
The program of population transfer lies outside the principle of continuity in national law, in whose name the Czechoslovakian government has thus far claimed the loyalty of the democratic Sudeten Germans abroad.
Our resolution is an appeal to all responsible elements of Czechoslovakian government not to consider exclusively a violent solution with which they will drive those democratic Sudeten Germans who still feel ties to their homeland into a conflict that may have disastrous repercussions for both sides.
Dear Mr. President, I am well aware of the implications of this observation. Permit me to express my highest regard. I am, Mr. President, your humble servant
A transcript of the original letter is reproduced on pages 255-257 of Verheimlichte Dokumente by Erich Kern.
The bodies of murdered Germans lie in the streets of Prague.
Sudeten German Inferno
The hushed-up tragedy of the ethnic Germans in Czechoslovakia
The Czech Victims of Resistance
ccording to a statement made by the Prague Ambassador to the United States, J. Steinhart, to army officers and diplomats in Washington on December 15, 1947, the Czech victims of resistance numbered 37,000 persons (including army-in-exile in Italy, Monte Cassino, student revolt in Prague, incidents of sabotage, Lidice, and 6,456 victims of Allied bombing attacks).
In a February 6, 1990 Club II discussion on Austrian radio about the expulsion of the Sudeten Germans, the Czech participant, historian Vancura, and his fellow-countryman Klen, blithely inflated these 37,000 Czech victims to 370,000. Not one of the other participants in this debate refuted this deliberate misleading. Was it a matter of ignorance, or of cowardice? This massaging of numbers was exposed in an article in the Sudetenpost, issue 5 of March 8, 1990, signed A.J. The author of that article continued:
“This game of numbers cloaks the wish to clear the Czechs of their misdeeds. While the daily papers barely mention the German losses to war and expulsion, or minimize them deliberately for propagandistic considerations, the losses of the opposing side are emphasized and even padded with an extra zero if needed.
The endeavor is to foist on the Sudeten Germans the blame for war measures taken by others, including by the Czech government-in-exile. 241,000 Sudeten German and 250,000 German prisoners of war fell victim of the Czechs’ enormous post-War rampages of pillage and murder. Of the refugees fleeing the bombing attacks in the Reich proper and the expellees from the eastern and southeastern regions, many thousands suffered the same agonizing death.”
Because They Were German!
The Stokes Report
etter of the British Minister and MP, R. R. Stokes to the Manchester Guardian, October 1945, as excerpted from Verheimlichte Dokumente, op.cit., p. 374:
“Months ago I learned of the Czech practice of rounding up young men who, under the Decrees of Potsdam, were to be expelled for reasons of their ethnicity, and shipping them off to labor concentration camps. In fact, many Sudeten German Social Democrats who had been sent to concentration camps for their anti-National Socialist views were now committed to Czech labor camps, solely because they were German.”
The 1945 memorandum of Sudeten German Social Democrat Wilhelm Niessner to the government at Prague makes similar observations (as per Brügel, Tschechen und Deutsche, v. 2, Munich, 1974).
The same goes for the shocking letter of Wenzel Jaksch, the Sudeten German Social Democrat in exile, to Dr. Edward Benes, the Czech President-in-exile residing in London.
The Stokes Report continues: “There are 51 such camps in Czechoslovakia, in which thousands of people suffer and starve; and when I say starve, I mean that literally!”
In Account No. 300, p. 431 of the book Documents on the Expulsion of the Sudeten Germans (Munich: Arbeitsgemeinschaft zur Wahrung Sudetendeutscher Interessen, 1951, English translation 2002 by The Scriptorium), Director Pischel of Rokitnitz writes: “The men who escaped death were sent by the Czechs to hastily established concentration camps, 51 of them, where they had to do hard labor, for example underground mining, with lousy rations and constant maltreatment.”
A concentration camp inmate tells of the terrorism engaged in by the victorious Allies. (From Die Vertreibung Sudetenlands 1945/46, Bad Nauheim, 1967, p. 299.) Josef Eckert was one of those men whom the National Socialists had thrown into concentration camp Dachau and for whom liberation came on May 8, 1945. He came from Brüx, and after being released from the concentration camp he hurried home to his native city, which he had not seen for many years. Later he wrote one of his fellow-sufferers from Dachau:
“The Czechs came to our city as avengers driven by hatred. First all German signs had to be taken down. Then we had to turn in all bicycles, motorcycles, radio sets, typewriters and telephones, and harsh penalties were in store for anyone who did not obey this order. Then the Czechs proceeded to plunder our houses. They went systematically from house to house, from home to home and stole furniture and linen, clothing and jewelry, in a word, anything they liked. But the plundering was not the end of it. There were also murders. On one of these horrible days they arrested comrade Willi Seifert, from Bandau. He was accused of having hidden a roll of telephone wire. At the Czech command post in the inn ‘Gebirgshöhe’ they stood him up against a wall and murdered him from behind.”
Stigma “N” Even for Anti-Fascists
n 1945 the Sudeten German Social Democrat Wilhelm Niesser sent the following memorandum to the Prague government (quoted from Brügel, op.cit.):
Like the Jews during the Middle Ages and the NS regime, the Sudeten Germans were forced to wear an identifying mark (“N” = “Nemec” = “German”) in public.
“Even today, I, who was perhaps the oldest among those who used to be at the forefront of our movement, still receive cries for help from the most loyal of my comrades, from all parts of the Republic. The bitter suffering that speaks through their appeals distresses me to the depths of my soul. Many of my friends who share my views are still locked up in the various camps. They have lost not only their freedom, but also their homes and what little property they had.
“Socialists and anti-Fascists – among them some who are known to be long-time functionaries of the Socialist parties and who took up arms to oppose the Nazi gangs in 1938 – are being arrested, driven out of their homes right along with the Fascists, and transported off. In terms of rations, the anti-Fascists are put on a par with the Fascists, and are given only the shortened ration cards that condemn them to a life of perpetual starvation. In many places they are made to wear the same identifying mark as the Fascists, ‘N’ (Nemec = German), that stigmatizes them as defamed.
“The establishment of anti-Fascist committees had been ordered, but even now, months later, work on this has barely even begun in some places. Many of our comrades, men and women alike, have lost their lives in the camps and on the transports.” (From: Verheimlichte Dokumente, op.cit., pp. 391-92.)
the South Moravian Homeland
rom pages 59-60 of the 3rd ed. of Wie es wirklich war, the memoirs of Anna Spangl, born in Prittlach, South Moravia.
“…We were standing on the steps, lamenting our dreadful fate; all of a sudden we heard loud singing and howls of excitement outside. I looked out the gate, oh horror, there were some 100 men from Rackwitz marching along, each of them with a bludgeon in his hand – the gendarme out front, and the others behind him in rows of four. They stopped outside the inn and spread out. In pairs of twos they ran into the houses, like madmen, and drove out the inhabitants of the entire town, first herding them together in front of the inn and then to Rackwitz into a barn. Here we had to spend the night in the dirt. All night long they took random shots at the people in the barn. Early in the morning we had to set off; again they drove us along with their clubs and bludgeons. The children screamed in fear. Let no-one think that it was the just the lowest rabble that drove us out in such a barbaric manner! The doctor, government officials, teachers, right down to the common laborers – all classes were involved. We had no idea what would happen to us. We were herded on without even being able to take any of our possessions. We dragged ourselves towards the town of Kostel. High school teacher Vessely walked beside me, club in hand. He was a good acquaintance of mine, and so I dared ask him: ‘For God’s sake, what are you doing with us?’ He answered: ‘Because I like you so much, I’ll tell you. In Lundenburg you’ll be put on a wagon train and shipped off to Siberia, but I’ll give you some good advice, when the train moves out you jump off it quickly, because from there it’s not far for you to get to Austria. Your parents are already old anyhow, it’s not much loss if they are sent to Siberia.’ So that was the advice an educated man gave me! The farmer Valenta from Rackwitz acted similarly. He was wearing a Czech uniform – years ago he had used to embrace the German soldiers in our basement! My father was happy to see a friend – finally, a decent Czech! – and wanted to greet him – but evidently there was no decent Czech there after all, because Valenta put out his hand and said to my father, ‘Go on, just keep marching.’
“I can’t bear to recall what a terrible state of mind we were in, and how physically run-down. Without a home, stripped of all human dignity, lying in the ditch like mangy dogs, no refuge for us anywhere – cast out of our beloved ancestral home and shunned by society, hungry and cruelly expelled.”
In her memoirs Wie es wirklich war, Anna Spangl recalls the plundering, destruction, damage and rape and recounts on pp. 49-50 how old Frau Rebefka was shot because she had tried to protect the Ukrainian woman who had worked for her from being raped. “The women were hunted like rabbits, the best hiding places were found out, and women were raped with no regard to their age, whether they were ten or 90. My grandmother’s sister was 86 years old and almost blind, she was raped twice. Because I put up a fight with hands and feet against being raped, those sadists dragged me like an animal to the slaughter – right past my father. He cried, ‘for God’s sake, why didn’t I let her go away?’ My mother was sobbing terribly, and my tormentors took me into the neighboring house. Four men raped me there. The first one was an officer, the last a horribly ugly Asian. There was sobbing and screaming everywhere. Often the parents were forced to watch the rape of their daughters, and vice versa, the children had to watch their mothers being violated. Many women contracted venereal diseases, and I wasn’t spared that either. Some time later, all women had to go to Rackwitz for a medical exam. Those who didn’t go kept it secret because they were ashamed.”
Landskron: in some towns “Revolutionary Courts” convened prior to the mass executions.
Sudeten German Inferno
The hushed-up tragedy of the ethnic Germans in Czechoslovakia
The Mass Crimes Against the Sudeten Germans
Took Place in Public
Non-Stop Mass Murders
heresia Lindenmeier, Trotzau:
“Around June 12, 1945, partisans rounded up the entire population of Trotzau. Then the names of five people who were to be shot were read out. One of them was absent because he hadn’t yet returned from the Wehrmacht. At that, the leader of the partisans tore up the paper with the names and declared that he would instead choose 20 people from the crowd to be shot. He picked 20 men at random, and these were first beaten bloody by the attending Czech population and then riddled with bullets so that they all collapsed into one heap. A few days earlier the entire Bartl family from Trotzau, five people, had been shot. Their bodies were yanked back out of the coffins that the community had provided, and they were buried beside the cemetery instead, at the edge of a field.
“At about the same time, a farmer’s family in Krottendorf near Trotzau was shot by partisans – man, wife and their nine-month-old child. In the neighboring village the husband and brother of a peasant woman were shot. The farmer’s wife herself had to dig a grave in the vegetable garden and to bury them in it. It was forbidden, on pain of death, to speak of these things.
“I can take this testimony on my oath, and bring many witnesses to support it.”
Engineer Franz Rosch reports:
“From May 12 to 15, 1945 I was assigned to a burial commando in Wolkowitz. There I saw how thousands of German soldiers as well as civilians – women and men and even young people 10 years and up – were brutally murdered. Mostly they were clubbed to death by Czech Revolutionary Guardsmen. Often the dreadfully battered bodies were rubbed with hydrochloric acid, just to torture them. One Dr. Blume of Berlin was in charge of ascertaining the death of these people. Fingers with rings on them were torn off some people’s hands while the people still lived. The dead were buried in a mass grave in Wolkowitz, by the cemetery.
“From the work unit in Wolkowitz I was sent to the penal camp Kladno, where I saw inmates being scalded with hot tea on their bare skin, on their back and buttocks, and being beaten terribly afterwards. In the two months I spent there, I myself was beaten daily.”
Franz Kaupil tells of the Czech reign of terror in Iglau:
“On May 13, 1945 the Czech reign of terror began in Iglau. About 1,200 Germans committed suicide the following night. By Christmas there were some 2,000 dead. On May 24 and 25 partisans drove the German population out of their homes within twenty minutes and locked them into the camps Helenental and Altenburg. These camps were officially known as concentration camps. Both camps held about 6,700 people. There was not enough water, neither for drinking nor for other purposes. There were no toilet or washing facilities. For the first days there was also no food, and later only a thin watery soup and 3 1/2 ounces of bread daily. After the first eight days children were given a cup of milk. Each day several elderly people and children died. On June 8 the inmates of Helenental were robbed of even their last possessions, and the next day they were marched more than 20 miles via Teltsch to Stangern. On this death march the people were constantly urged to greater speed with whippings. 350 people lost their lives to exhaustion and hunger on this trek.”
Franz Kaupil continues: “In Stangern 3,500 people were crammed into a camp with an intended capacity of 250. Most of them had to camp outdoors, despite the rain. The next day, families – men, women and children – were quartered separately. The food was unfit for human consumption. In the course of a shooting in the women’s camp four women were killed, among them Frau Friedl and Frau Kerpes, and one woman was badly injured. Corporal punishment was the order of the day for men and women alike. There was even a separate cell for beatings.
“The camp administration rented the inmates out to the Czech farmers as workers.”
Franz Kaupil recalls further that on June 10, 1945 16 inmates from Iglau were taken from their cells and shot in the Ranzenwald forest. “Among them was the old town priest Honsik, the gentlemen Howorka, Augustin, Biskons, Brunner, Laschka, Martel, Kästler, and others whom I did not know. As late as May 1945, Krautschneider, Kaliwoda, Müller and Ruffa were shot in the court hall without any trial at all. One Hoffmann was beaten to death. Rychetzky was the warder whom everyone feared most. Factory owner Krebs was scalped. Building contractor Lang died of the effects of horrible maltreatment. 70-year-old Colonel Zobel hung himself in the cell.
“Many people had been forced with brutal abuse to give incriminating statements, and were now held for crimes they had never committed at all.
“I can take this statement on my oath, and can also produce further witnesses to these events.”
The Holocaust of Prague
xcerpt from the book Zwiespalt der Gemüter by Alexander Hoyer:
“In the night of May 4-5, 1945 the mass murders began in Prague. The most gruesome events of the Middle Ages pale in comparison to the murderous blood lust that played itself out in the streets, houses and most of all the hospitals of Prague.
After the all-out war effort had been proclaimed in 1944, medical student Ingrid Langer had signed up as Red Cross nurse. She was stationed in the Luftwaffe hospital on the right bank of the Moldau River in Prague. In the morning of May 6 a sizeable group of young Czech men and girls arrived howling and yelling at the main entrance of the hospital and, threatening with submachine guns, demanded that all Red Cross nurses, as well as all the wounded who could walk, should come out. When the doctors tried to dissuade the mob from their demands, and pointed out the regulations of the Red Cross, under whose protection the hospital was, the riotous mob roared with laughter. The armed ringleaders stormed into the hospital rooms and drove the wounded in their striped pajamas out before them.
Other heroes of this kind brought out all the nurses on duty, lined them up and selected the ten youngest and prettiest of them. Ingrid Langer was among them.
After lengthy arguments among the teenaged hoodlums as to what sorts of abuse they would engage in, they agreed to march their victims into town.
Along with a selected 10 wounded patients, the nurses had to line up in rows of two and march off, singing the German national anthem. Anyone who did not sing loudly enough, or at all, was beaten until his or her voice was audible. To either side of the street the compatriots of the wild mob stood applauding. The procession was stopped in Peter’s Square, which seemed to be the arena best suited for the planned macabre game.
A bow-legged descendant of the Awars shrieked: “Undress! Everyone undress completely!” Since the unfortunate victims made no move to take off their clothes, he gave his accomplices the sign to start beating.
The wounded and the nurses were smashed to the pavement, some beside and on top of each other, unable even to move.
“Undress or die!” the sadist kept screaming.
The wounded soldiers soon took off their hospital pajamas. Stark naked, they were at the mercy of the goggling crowd. The nurses as yet retained their underwear. No-one minded that their undressing took a little longer, for the surrounding crowd relished the sight of these half-naked German Red Cross nurses. But then the ringleader demanded that the stripping be completed.
“Undress! Finish undressing!” he roared again, “strip to the skin, you swine!” At last, when all ten finally stood stark naked in the middle of the square, hiding their faces in their hands, the Prague citizens’ merriment rose to a fever pitch. But Ingrid Langer, who had grown up in Prague, knew her Czech fellow citizens only too well. She knew that the final act of the drama staged here would be a deliberately drawn-out but all the more gruesome death. Like lightning she made a break for it, darted through a weak point in their encirclement, and dashed off towards the lower end of the square. Before the baffled bystanders realized it, she had escaped the arena of death. But at the square’s end Ingrid Langer ran right into the hands of her next tormentors!
A band of plunderers, heavily laden with rugs, paintings, furs, tableware and more, caught the naked fleeing girl in a flash. They dragged her into the house they had just left, up to the first floor, into the home they had plundered. In the hallway on the floor lay a dead woman about 25 years old. Next to her huddled a child of perhaps two, blood-bespattered and sobbing bitterly. The captured naked beauty was shoved into a bedroom to a host of obscene comments. At the sight of the pretty young girl all the plunderers had turned back, in the certain expectation of a good time. There was not one among them that did not participate in the ensuing rape. More Czechs who came running in continued their predecessors’ disgraceful deed. At last the victim mercifully lost consciousness.
Meanwhile, the macabre spectacle in Peter’s Square had continued. The nine yet surviving Red Cross nurses had been lined up opposite the injured men, naked as they were, and the nurses were ordered to tear the men’s private parts off. An unbelievably brutish idea. The victims themselves could hardly believe the perverted orders. “Rip it off! Rip it off!” And right away the entire crowd joined in, roaring and chanting and clapping their hands in rhythm. None of the German girls could be forced to even try to carry out the bestial order. They ignored the ever more threatening demands of the crowd, which was literally going wild. Not one made any move to comply, even after most of them had already collapsed, unconscious, under the blows from the rifle butts.
Never before in history had the world seen human cruelty to equal what happened here!
Theresienstadt: Germans excavating mass graves for their shot and otherwise murdered countrymen and soldiers.
Ein Buch über den “Brünner Todesmarsch”
ist durch unseren Versandbuchhandel erhältlich!
The Death March of Brünn
“Beat them, beat them, leave none alive!”
an Zizka’s Hussite War battle cry of the early 15th century, “Beat them, beat them, leave none alive!”, was echoed and turned into infernal, gruesome reality by that late-medieval Czech knight’s descendants in the death march of Brünn on Corpus Christi 1945.
Just as in those early days, the masses, inflamed by their leadership, abandoned themselves publicly and without shame or conscience to a degree of brutality and bestiality that few outsiders could have conceived of.
April 2003 – Scriptorium comments:
It is interesting that many people who truly lived through hell deal with the experience by suppressing it. Click here to read an eyewitness account of this “Sign of the Times!”
Tens of thousands of Brünn citizens – mostly women and children, but also elderly people – were ruthlessly driven from their homes, robbed of all their possessions, and hunted via Pohrlitz to the Austrian border with little more than the clothes on their backs. Whoever collapsed remained where he fell, was beaten, or shot without much ado. Old people and little children dropped like flies from thirst, hunger and exhaustion. The catastrophic sanitary conditions in the transit camp Pohrlitz following a dysentery epidemic meant a rich harvest for death there as well.
Frau Theresia Beichl, who was on this death march with her little daughter, recounts the following: “I saw a woman giving birth in a ditch. Afterwards the Czechs beat her to death and trampled the newborn until it was dead too.”
That such incredible brutishness was not an isolated case is shown by the account of Frau M.v.W. (Documents on the Expulsion of the Sudeten Germans, op.cit.), who recounts being ordered (with reference to a dead mother and child) to “throw the sow into the latrine together with her bastard!” When M.v.W., a Red Cross nurse, refused, two other women were forced to perform the abominable deed and to throw the dead mother and baby into the open latrine. Weeks later it was still possible to see the baby’s head and one of the mother’s arms sticking out of the filth.
The murders and brutality that accompanied this forced march to Austria are uncounted.
In Pohrlitz, one of the largest of all mass graves remains as silent witness to this death march, and there is hardly a town or village all the way to the border where some dead were not buried, thrown like dogs into shallow graves.
It was a 60-km crusade of Germans forcibly expelled from Brünn and tortured to the point of death.
They paid for the War: civilians, shot or beaten to death, lined the path of the expellees in the East.
Sudeten German Inferno
The hushed-up tragedy of the ethnic Germans in Czechoslovakia
The Expulsion From Brünn
(The “Death March of Brünn”)
by Theresia Beichl, Meisenweg 10, Königsbrunn;
born in Prittlach, South Moravia
t was early in the morning that someone knocked – no, pounded – on my door as hard as he could, probably with a rifle butt, and yelled: “Get out, you German swine, right away, and don’t you dare take anything with you or you will be shot.” It was an armed Czech that made his orders known in this way. And indeed I was able to take hardly any of my possessions, because I had a three-year-old son whom I still had to push in his carriage. Head over heels I hurried to stuff a tiny carriage pillow with a few things for the child. I put a light blanket into the pram and took the small knapsack, containing a bag of noodles and some dry bread, which I had always used to keep in the air raid shelter. Then I went to the assigned gathering place. When I say “go” or “went”, that means at a run and under threat of blows which landed often and well-aimed. I could no longer even cry or complain, for all the degradation, rapes, beatings and humiliation that I had already had to endure had turned my heart to stone. We weren’t allowed to cry, anyhow – crying mothers and children were silenced with cuffs and blows. Our guards – “caretakers”, as the Czechs called themselves (to me they were fiends) – waited eagerly for any such opportunity, when someone cried, to give free rein to their tyranny and rage.
It was at Corpus Christi. The gathering point in the Black Fields (suburb of Brünn) was jam-packed with people. Besides the mothers with their children, old and sick people had also been rounded up. We stood there for a very long time. Then our tormentors told us, with much roaring and yelling and many blows, to line up in rows of two to march off. Anyone who did not understand the Czech language and asked his neighbor questions in German was punished with blows to the face. Every blow and every punch was a shock for me that I still have not forgotten. Why do people so grossly maltreat others who have done no wrong? The Germans who had remained in Brünn (many had already fled from the Russians) and had weathered the war to its bitter end in their own four walls had never been on bad terms with the Czechs. On the contrary, we had always shared generously with them what little we had. I would never have believed that a Czech could be so abusive.
Under roared orders and blows from whips we were herded from the Black Fields via the Children’s Hospital to Prague Street, where we spent the night crowded together in a courtyard, standing or huddled down. That night was brutal. Time and again Russian soldiers came, the worst of them were the Mongols with their slitty eyes, and dragged women off with them, allegedly to work in the kitchen. They didn’t care what age the women were; 14- and 15-year-old girls were also taken for “kitchen duty”. Hours later they returned, raped and sobbing. And because they were crying the Czechs threw in some additional blows.
God had mercy on me that night. I had trod that path of suffering already a few days before.
At daybreak the Czech guards came – they were different ones this time, with even more rage and power behind their blows – and drove us like a herd of cattle onto the street. We had to watch captured German soldiers march by while being beaten and spat on by the Czech population. All the Germans had become fair game, and any Czech and Russian could vent whatever brutalities he wanted on us. We had to line up again, and set off on a long trek.
Dear reader, try to imagine that trek of worn-out mothers, sick children and elderly people! We had no idea where we were going. There was a rumor that Czechs wanted to ship us off to Austria, but no-one was sure of it. We covered about 50 kilometers, all on foot. It’s not called “the Death March of Brünn” for no reason. I know – I was there.
April 2003 – Scriptorium comments:
It is interesting that many people who truly lived through hell deal with the experience by suppressing it. Click here to read an eyewitness account of this “Sign of the Times!”
We were marched past the main cemetery; my thoughts were with the dead that rested there, and I envied them their eternal peaceful sleep. Then, past Raigern and on to Pohrlitz. The way was long and horrible. We traveled all day. The line of people grew ever longer, because more and more were added from the various suburbs we passed. someone was always screaming and landing random blows on the suffering people. Whoever was not strong enough to continue stayed were he fell. Usually these wasted people were shoved into the ditch, kicked a few times, and left lying there. Helping each other was forbidden, and to try it would have meant death. It was deeply painful to me to see my old biology teacher, Dr. Massl, collapsed by the wayside, totally exhausted and weakened. His daughter was not allowed to help him either, and had to continue on that stony path without her father. Dr. Massl’s fate was shared by many old and fragile people who lay along the road exhausted, debilitated and disheartened, but ever prodded on by the Czechs until they finally collapsed totally. To this day I can still hear the screams of these beaten old people. I prayed fervently to God to give me the strength, courage and endurance to take my child to safety from these thugs.
My hatred for our tormentors grew by the hour. When a mother nurses her baby by the side of the road, or another has warmed some milk for her child over a candle flame, and they have to suffer beatings for it, who could not harbor feelings of hate at such treatment? The most horrible thing I saw was when a young woman lay on a meadow and had just given birth. She screamed and cried, but both she and her newborn were beaten and kicked until they lay dead. They were left there, and I heard our “escort” say: “Let them croak, they’re just Germans.” I had a fair command of the Czech language and so I was able to understand everything they said.
For a while I was close to collapsing, but I had a child – a hungry, thirsty and frightened child. The incident with the poor mother and newborn had shocked me deeply again, but on the other hand it strengthened my resolve to save my own child.
The march to Pohrlitz slowed down more and more as we were not able to go on further. The roars and beatings from our Czechs increased in number and severity. The dead that lined the road – we lost count of them. Many were beaten or trampled to death.
Where had these tormentors come from, that acted worse than wild animals?!
To keep moving was all I could think of – mute and exhausted, the child in its carriage no less so. We were all so hungry and thirsty but we were forbidden to eat or drink. Furtively I gave my son some of the bread that I had with me, and told him to make it last as long as he could, and if one of these thugs with the whips were to come by, he should take care not to move his mouth. God, what conditions for a bite of bread!
Halfway to Pohrlitz a thunderstorm surprised us, with a heavy downpour that drenched us to the skin. No-one was allowed to seek shelter under one of the trees by the road. I covered my child with the blanket I had taken along, but the rain soaked it and made it so heavy that I had to throw it away. Many Czech inhabitants from the surrounding villages took everything from us that they could get their hands on. A frightened, trembling old man was carrying a small back pack, and suddenly he was yanked out of the line, beaten with a rubber hose, his back pack was searched and when they found an old alarm clock in it he was dragged to the side of the road and beaten until he could no longer move. After all, before starting on this death march we had had to guarantee that we had not taken any valuables from our homes. To the Czechs that old alarm clock was a valuable.
Oh human being, what is left of you! A beaten, outcast, spat-on, violated creature, driven out and tortured to death!
I grew ever more wretched. Only a few days earlier I had been at the height of a bout of purulent tonsillitis and had been tormented and raped by the Russians, who descended like wild animals on us women only when they were drunk. My child was ever a source of strength to me, and I had only one thought – to take him to safety or else die together with him. Sometimes I wonder how a human body was able to survive the strain that this martyrdom inflicted.
It was evening, and we arrived in Pohrlitz at the end of our last ounce of strength. All I remember is that our first lodging must have been a fabric store at one time. The furnishings consisted of nothing but massive shelves, and I laid my tired child and myself on one of those bare boards. The people’s faces were puffed up beyond recognition from the many blows they had received, and other body parts such as arms and legs were covered with welts. No end to this torture and no ray of hope were in sight. That night was another night of horror – there was no sleep for us women, only fear of the Russians who of course came to fetch us to “peel potatoes” (that’s what they called their atrocities here too).
The Czechs beat us, the Russians raped us. Dear reader, why don’t you ask if we couldn’t defend ourselves, put up some resistance to all these misdeeds? No, for you see, we were not asked for these services – we were forced at gunpoint. Refusal would have meant certain death.
We spent the next days and nights in a warehouse. The floor was covered with straw, as is usual in stables. Some of us were put into grain silos, where we had to sleep on the bare concrete floor. We lay squeezed together like herrings in a can, the air was bad, there were no sanitary facilities, and illness and disease flourished. Doctors? Medication? None!
We were not “allowed” to be hungry. Every now and then we were given some soup of watered-down roasted flour. Festering feet, the result of our long march, were the order of the day. The worst was diarrhea, dysentery and typhus. As I’ve said before, there were no sanitary facilities – only a latrine, but the sick people couldn’t use that because they were too weak to walk there to relieve themselves. There were two toilets, but only the Czech guard personnel were allowed to use them. An old, beaten-up man always had to clean these toilets, but with his bare hands. The fine gentlemen that could use them to answer their calls of nature did not do so into the toilet bowls, but rather beside them, and deliberately so. One day we found the old man beaten into a dreadful shape, lying dead in front of the toilet door. People were dying like flies in Pohrlitz.
In my desperation – or perhaps it was a message from my guardian angel (I never lost my faith throughout all of this) – I remembered that an aunt of mine, actually a very distant relative, lived in Pohrlitz. Surreptitiously, always in fear of being discovered, I managed to contact her. We prisoners went to a little stream each day to wash ourselves, and on one of these opportunities I went to her and gave her a brief account of my situation. Even though she was a German herself, she was yet allowed to stay in her house, because she worked for a Czech. Through a hole in the fence, her daughter, then eight years old, brought me a bit of warm soup and some nut spirits for the diarrhea.
Dear Mitzi, you live in Vienna today and I am still grateful to you from the bottom of my heart.
Of course our arrangement was found out, and we were threatened that if we dared meet again we would be shot.
We had been in this camp for about fourteen days when we were told that whoever wanted to go on to Austria could walk there – under guard again, of course. I wanted to go; Austria was a ray of hope to me. The trek we started on was just as harsh and difficult as before.
In Nikolsburg we were herded up the Muscherlberg mountain (there was supposed to be a prison at the top). It was a very hot day and the people were parched and begged on their knees for a drop of water. There were wells, and water in them, but we were told that the water was contaminated and not fit to drink, as typhus had broken out everywhere. My child and I could only moan, for we were just as hungry and thirsty as everyone else. Our lips were cracked from the heat and our bodies were drying out. Wretched, abused figures tottered around crying for water. And again many died. I huddled in a corner by the wall with my child and sobbed quietly to myself. Some of our guards had vanished, and we were left to ourselves.
And again a saving grace found me at the last minute. A young man wearing a Czech uniform walked over to us, gave us a canteen with water, looked at us and said in German: “Don’t drink, just rinse your mouth!” He left again. We knew each other – in 1941 my husband and I had attended a course in Italian at the adult education center in Brünn, and that young man had had the seat next to ours. I didn’t know his name, we had spoken to each other in German in those days and I had been sure that he was a German. But how did he come to wear a Czech uniform? It will be a mystery to me forever, but I owe him the water that saved my life.
We were told that we could now cross the Austrian border, which was very close. The Red Cross was waiting for us, we were told, and we would be fed and taken care of there. Finally, the light at the end of the tunnel! We went to the border en masse, but when I saw that the Austrian border guards turned our multitudes back again, I set off on a detour on my own. Red Cross – that had been a filthy, dirty lie, invented out of thin air by the Czechs! There was no Red Cross there, and nobody wanted us. My decision to continue on my own had been the right one, otherwise I would have had to return to one of the Czech mass camps, and would have perished there like so many others.
Drasenhofen was the first village on Austrian soil that I reached. On the roads and streets I met many mothers with their children wh had also broken out of the marching column and struck out on their own. Old people were fewer and farther between; they had all died. Everyone’s goal was to reach Vienna. It was already a pleasure for me to be on Austrian soil and to be able to speak German again. An older woman who lived in a single-story yellow house in Drasenhofen took us in for the night. We got a bit of bread to eat, and a bed was readied for us in a chamber. I was happy. Just once I would have a peaceful night’s rest. But in the middle of the night there was a pounding on my door, and in came four stone-drunk, dirty Russians, pulled me out of bed like a piece of meat and dragged me into another room, where all four of them victimized me. I should have known that this area was occupied by Russians, and that every Red soldier was under orders from Stalin to rape the German women wherever and however they could. [In his three volumes War, 1942-1943, Soviet propaganda minister Ilya Ehrenburg exhorted the Red soldiers:] “The Germans are not human beings. For us there is nothing more amusing than German corpses.” (The original of this appeal for extermination is held at the Political Archives of the Foreign Office in Bonn.) (cf. Erich Kern, Verheimlichte Dokumente: Was den Deutschen verschwiegen wird, p. 354.)
I had believed myself safe on Austrian soil too soon. Now I was totally at the end of my tether, I was sicker than ever and could hardly walk a step anymore. But I wanted to get to Vienna, I wanted to take my child to safety and Vienna was still so far off.
I wandered from one village to the next, avoiding the Russian camps, to which the Austrians alerted me, I knocked everywhere but hardly a door was opened to me. “We’re full up with refugees from South Moravia,” I was always told. (Refugees is not the correct term, since we were all expellees.) I believed it, because all of South Moravia, which was after all a German region, had been going to Austria. We all had relatives and acquaintances there. I constantly hoped to meet up with my parents along my way, which they had probably also gone. Hunger and thirst were our constant companions. The most crushing reply I would get was “we don’t take women with children.” When anyone felt sorry for us, they would send us to the goat shed, gave us a bundle of straw, and we could rest our weary heads there. We were also relatively safe from the Russians there. We were no longer beaten, but the Russian soldiers were all the more terrible in their rage. In the village of Schrick, where we were allowed to stay the night in the goat shed, we were also given a glass of goat’s milk in the morning, but we vomited it up again right away because our starved stomachs could not handle the rich milk. On we went towards Vienna, but not on the roads, rather, across the fields, so that the Russians would not see us. The streets were overcrowded anyhow with droves of people who all wanted to move on and on. In every town many had to stay behind because they were simply not able to travel further. They died of exhaustion and diseases. There is not a village or town along the way from Drasenhofen to Vienna that does not have a memorial plaque in its cemetery, stating how many expellees lie in the mass graves there.
My shoes had worn out, the soles were falling off, and so I trekked on barefoot. I went on for a week, trudging from town to town like a beggarwoman. Most of the places we passed through were farming villages, and we would be given the occasional chunk of bread. But there were also many curse words for us, from trash to tramp to Nazi swine. And this was in Austria!
Finally we arrived in the town of Wolkersdorf. The baby carriage had also broken in the meantime and I pushed it on three wheels for the last few miles. On the way there I already learned from native villagers that my parents were in Wolkersdorf, working for a farmer and terribly worried about me. They had also been expelled from their house and home in Prittlach, South Moravia. I, on the other hand, had studied in Brünn, married in Brünn, lived in Brünn, and thus my odyssey of suffering had also begun in Brünn.
I found my parents, but they barely recognized me, as emaciated, sick and tired as I was. The same went for my child. We fell into each other’s arms, all of us wept bitterly, but there was no real joy. The farmer took me in with great displeasure, but I had to promise to be on my way again in a week. I was just grateful to be able to spend a few days in safety and security.
My greatest wish is that the future will never permit such disgraceful happenings again!
Sudeten German Inferno
The hushed-up tragedy of the ethnic Germans in Czechoslovakia
Acts of Violence During the 1945 Expulsion.
Sudeten Mountains: Murders of Sudeten Germans
Excerpts from “Riesengebirgs-Heimat
ermannseifen: by verdict of the Commander of Arnau, executed publicly before the entire community on June 29, 1945: Andreas Pohl, butcher; Franz Pohl (his son); Josef Gaber, baker; Josef Stransky, barber; Alois Struchlik, laborer; Frau Pohl subsequently hanged herself.
Marstig: executed in June 1945 by Czech soldiers from Arnau and the Narodni Vybor, before the entire community: Nittner (Hohenelbe), Stefan Rzehak, mayor; Josef Gall, master spinner; Josef Tauchmann, company representative of factory Mandl; Anton Jochmann, railwayman.
Vordermastig: May 1945: Josef Schröfel, innkeeper, hanged himself. His wife took poison when his estate was plundered during the occupation.
Keilbaude: Braun, innkeeper, murdered.
Schüsselbauden: Raimund Kraus and Johann Hollmann, shot by partisans.
Hütten-Witkowitz: Rudolf Schier, died in the Jitschin prison.
Theresiental: June 1945: Alois Baruschka, abused, then shot.
Jablonetz: September 8, 1945: Schimmer, died following abuse in Karthaus-Jitschin.
Mastig: May 1945: Alfred Kuhn, beaten to death near Jitschin.
Spindlermühle: Alfred Fischer, senior primary school teacher, murdered in May 1945. Hans Buchberger and his mother, murdered in Trautenau in May 1945.
Arnau: Heinz Soukop, Eichmann’s procurator, shot by a firing squad on June 10, 1945. Erich Kowarsch, brewery employee, beaten to death in early June 1945; Josef Rummler and his wife Marie, n‚e Petrik, were brutishly abused and then shot on June 18, 1945. Many poisoned themselves (Iwonsky, family Schenk, Melichar).
Klein-Borowitz: June 18, 1945: Linhart and his wife, Müller, arrested in Arnau, beaten and tortured in the Eichmann Basement, then taken to Mastig on June 21, 1945 and shot on the orders and in the presence of the Czech Commander of Arnau, Captain Wurm from Horoschitz.
Ponikla: mayor Knappe executed in Starkenbach.
Rochlitz: Fritz Sedel of Oberrochlitz, arrested in May 1945, sent to Starkenbach in January 1946, then to the concentration camp Hrabatschow; has been missing ever since.
Zittau-Neuhammer: along this stretch of road some 60 to 80 German prisoners of war, among them many Sudeten Germans from Lauban, were butchered because they could not keep up the pace of this death march. Final stopover via Sagan was the camp Jaworczno near Auschwitz, where everyone had to work in the mine and 18 died, 1 suicide, and some were shot trying to escape; among them were many from the Sudeten Mountains.
Kukus: mid-May 1945: Ginzkey, teacher from Reichenberg, brutally beaten, then died; Petran, teacher from Seidenschwanz, and Karl Schneider, gardener from Gradlitz, beaten and shot behind the railway yard; Alois Slaboch, senior civil servant, and Eusebius Areyczuk, Ukrainian greengrocer, both beaten and then shot in the Stangendorf quarry. Frau Slaboch cut her throat.
Gutsmuts-Arnau: Wilhelm Pradler, construction master, and his wife Maria, shot in Proschwitz in front of the Elb mill on April 23, 1945; slandered and betrayed by: Amler, Nossek and Schiefert, as well as a Czech from Proschwitz.
Schwarzenthal: Hubert Wawra, administrator, murdered at Mencik near Hohenelbe. A total of 17 inhabitants disappeared; 14 of them were: Franz Munser, master dyer; Franz Kröhn, farmer near Mencik; Josef Ettrich, coachman; Franz Seidel, carpenter; Wenzel Seidel, mailman; Maiwald, master saddler; Johann Kraus, master dyer; Josef Kraus, near Mencik; Oswald Renner, telephonist; Wonka, farmer; Josef Schneider, quarry laborer; Josef Langer, office employee; Edi Klust, master weaver.
Lauterwasser: January 24, 1945: Johann Zirm, policeman, hung in Jitschin.
Murder Gang Kokoff
The Night of Horror at the Glassworks (June 1945)
fter the gruesome excesses on the Jahn Sports Field in Komotau, the other victims were herded out of the city. In rows of six they were marched up the Weinberg mountain. All the windows in the city and the villages were shut, and people were nowhere to be seen; and where a frightened face did peer out behind the curtains, shots were fired at it without mercy. The column seemed endless, some 6,000 to 8,000, including many elderly and ill.
The guard had been reinforced. Every 10 to 15 meters a soldier walked along, with submachine gun at the ready, and at the end of the column drove a truck with a machine gun set up on it. Everyone wondered silently, “what new devilry are they up to now?”
Soon we passed Lake Alaun, through Udwitz and Görkau and to Rottenhaus. Yes, we had always seen you with a glad heart before, beloved homeland, we hiked through and explored your nooks and crannies. Hide your face and weep with your sons, herded along here now like animals towards an uncertain fate!
Time and again we were ordered to run, and rifle butts and whips urged us on. A political leader in uniform was ordered to run around the column of people, a picture of Hitler in his hand. He didn’t last long. Soon afterwards I saw others drop out of the rows and collapse in exhaustion at the side of the road (Willomitzer). And now the terrible happened. The Czechs had posted a follow-up commando, whose task it was to finish off – with a bullet into the back of the neck – anyone who dropped behind. The shots rang out behind us with ever-increasing frequency as the murderers were kept busy. The Czechs urged us to greater and greater speed, and the shooting became constant. 175 people were left dead.
Then came the first houses of Gebirgsneudorf, where we were ordered to “STOP!” Here and there, some of us began to “eat” grass for lack of real food. In the morning of the third day we had to get back on the road. We were taken back to the coal basin of Brüx, to the large hydrogenation works at Maltheuern. The Czechs needed slave labor. We were to be it. A new stage on our journey of suffering awaited us.
The “Glashütte”, the old glassworks which had been set up as first temporary concentration camp primarily with the aid of immense quantities of barbed wire, was an ideal site for assembly-line-style murder. It was in an isolated location far outside the city. Here there were no unwanted witnesses to the events of those days; here none saw Death, with whip and pistol, stalking the darkness of the old factory premises, flogging and murdering as he went; here no-one heard the screams, the moans, and the report of the gunshots which often put an end, at long last, to protracted torture. No-one, except the unfortunate inmates themselves. And they would be silenced somehow, if they even survived at all.
Some 250 prisoners were already confined in this camp in the very first days. Among them were several women, and boys hardly past school-age. Just like the men, the women were shaved bald, abused and kicked. It choked my heart to hear their screams and sobs; I will never forget these impressions, nor the many others for which the term “inhuman” is hardly adequate to express the criminally despicable nature of these excesses.
But I shall speak about Kokoff. That is what one of our people who knew him called him. He was the instigator of the “great roll call” that led up to the mass shootings in the night of June 7, 1945. And he was himself the most active in this gang of murderers. Almost to a man, the camp guards had a passion for intimidating people, and it only took one look to recognize them as bullies. And each sought to outdo the others. Our agony was their delight. The night-time roll calls were particularly feared, since the camp guards often wanted to provide not only themselves but also visitors to the camp with satanic entertainment. Especially the Czech women did themselves proud in this – in spitting, beating and rabble-rousing in general – and the guards were only too happy to jump into action. The nightly “roll calls” usually ended in gross floggings of selected unfortunates in the Beating Cell, whence the bloodcurdling screams of the tortured often rang out for hours until they finally dwindled to groans or death-rattles or, as in one case, changed to inarticulate singing because the victim had lost his mind from all the pain and fear – until the tiny spark of his life ultimately gave out altogether, to a bullet.
When we were flogged awake in the night of June 7, 1945, we were expecting one of the usual “roll calls”. But when we saw a group of uniformed and armed strangers crowding into the room, led by the infamous Kokoff now in the role of partisan leader, we were immediately filled with dark presentiments. Kokoff, a typical Balkanese – striking face, dark skin, a not entirely pure-blooded Czech, as they say – was clearly in charge. And that night Kokoff, with his cap at a rakish angle, a cigarette dangling carelessly from a corner of his mouth, and swinging his gun, called loudly: “SS and SA, step outside!” After the men assembled in the brightly lit yard, a night-time sport of an unusual kind began. We saw it all from the window of our cell, and heard the orders, given in Czech: “Down! Up! Squats!”
And then, horrified, we saw how they herded one man after the other at pistol-point into an open space. Shots fell, more and ever more. That night Kokoff kept a careful count of those who had to face his gun. After that act of the tragedy was over, he bragged about having shot 17 himself. The next morning the guards called for volunteers to load up the dead bodies. A large Wehrmacht truck with a hood pulled up on the lawn to take up the dead. And this happened night after night in the concentration camp Glassworks near Komotau.
In the insane explosion of sadism, German privates were strung up from lamp posts. This fate struck primarily the wounded who were recovering in Prague hospitals and were able to go out already.
Hounded to Death!
eport of Karl K., teacher and former registrar of the South Moravian market community Grusbach:
“In the evening hours of May 17, 1945, partisans from out-of-town got me out of bed and took me to the gendarmerie command post. There, my pockets were emptied, they even took my eyeglasses, I was beaten up and then thrown into a detention cell, where I found some companions in misfortune. We stayed there until May 21, 1945, on which day we were herded on foot to Znaim, accompanied by armed partisans. This march took us through Grafendorf, Höflein, Gross Tayax, Erdberg, Joslowitz, Zulb, Rausenbruck and Hödnitz. There we had a brief stop-over at the gendarmerie quarters. Josef E. and Josef D. had to report to the office. They returned looking agitated. Josef E. had an “SS” painted on the back of his jacket in blue paint, and Josef D. a double “++”. Then we trekked on to Znaim, where we arrived in the evening and were taken to the Robotarna prison. In one of the basement rooms we had to take our shirts off and lie down on the ground with bare upper body and buttocks. Four partisans flogged us mercilessly with whips and straps. For hours all one could hear was the brute cursing of the partisans and the whimpering and cries of the tortured. Men had also been brought in from other parts of South Moravia, and they fared no better than we did. Our countryman Josef D. must have received the greatest part of the beatings. When he was thrown into our cell as the thirteenth of us, there was no part of his body that was not covered with welts (back, buttocks, chest, abdomen). He moaned pitifully without cease and died several hours later that same night. Our torturers ordered his body taken into a different cell. The next day he was probably thrown into the pit that already held the bodies of other victims who had been beaten to death or shot. The following day (May 22, 1945) the rest of us men were taken under heavy guard to the concentration camp Mannsberg. For two weeks Josef D.’s name was still read out at the daily roll call, even though they knew perfectly well that he had been tortured to death in the Robotarna prison.
“Josef E. was also among the men who had been beaten in the Robotarna prison and had spent the night in darkness detention. Twice he tried to commit suicide to spare himself further torture, but his fellow prisoners managed to prevent it at the last minute. Josef E. was then also sent to the concentration camp Mannsberg and was assigned to outdoor labor at the Ditmar earthenwares factory. In late July 1945, due to renewed abuse by the Czechs, he made a third, successful attempt at ending his life.”
One of the many dead from among the millions of expellees.
Sudeten German Inferno
The hushed-up tragedy of the ethnic Germans in Czechoslovakia
If You Make Yourself a Lamb,
Don’t Be Surprised When The Wolves Eat You
t was in Prague during the days of the Protectorate that a very high-ranking state official of North German extraction said to me, verbatim: “I don’t understand you Sudeten Germans, how you couldn’t get along with the Czechs. They’re thoroughly cozy, friendly people!”
I replied: “Well yes, Mr. Assistant Secretary of State, you know the Czechs from the beer tables or even from lavish banquets. We have known them since the Hussite Wars and earlier, from their real side, from the innermost of their complex-laden national soul whose bloodthirsty chauvinism is capable of inconceivable bestiality.”
He answered, “Oh bosh, my good man, that slander was discredited a long time ago.”
Not two years later, in May 1945, that Assistant Secretary of State died on Wenzel Square in Prague, tied to a truck and dragged to death – a victim of “cozy Czech friendliness”.
Concentration Camp Inmate Sandor Kovac,
on the Czechs in 1945
itness statement of the Hungarian half-Jew Sandor Kovac, who was in a concentration camp shortly before the end of the War and passed through Prague on his way home:
“In Hitler’s concentration camp I saw things I would not have believed possible, that people would do to other people. But in May 1945, when I was traveling homeward, I was caught unawares in the outburst of Czech insanity in Prague, and I witnessed an inferno of human depravity and moral baseness compared to which my concentration camp days had almost been a holiday. Women and children were doused alive with petroleum and set on fire, men were murdered under inconceivable tortures. And I must make it an emphatic point that it was the entire population that participated in these crimes, not just the usual rabble. I saw stylish, elegant young Czech ladies, who had perhaps flirted with the German officers not too long before, now walking the streets with guns and dog whips and torturing and murdering people, and I saw Czech officials, evidently of higher rank, raping women together with the howling Czech street mob and then killing them as painfully as they possibly could. I feared a German reawakening, for what was done to the Germans defies description!”
Forget Their Christian Brotherly Love
“What ye have done,
inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren,
ye have done it unto me!”
n 1945 many Czech clergymen failed miserably to live up to this well-known Biblical teaching of our Lord Jesus where their desperate German co-religionists were concerned. Unbridled, chauvinistic Czech nationalism took precedence over the dissemination of the Catholic faith and teachings as ordered by the Church. They maintained this attitude towards their German co-religionists, as the following witness accounts show. Even the Ten Commandments were grossly violated.
In his book Rache nicht, Gerechtigkeit: Geschichte und Leidensweg der Sudetendeutschen. Eine Dokumentation (Stronsdorf: KFM, 1989) the editor, fellow-countryman Fritz Schattauer, recounts on page 174: “In Jamnitz several SS men trying to flee to Austria were killed; the chaplain of Jamnitz bragged about having done that deed himself, and he went about his pastoral duties in Alt-Hart armed with a submachine gun.” Five pages further, on p. 179, we read the account of Captain Bruno Knösel, a Sudeten German homecomer: “There I saw unbridled, wild nationalism visit unutterable suffering on innocent women, children, elderly and soldiers. To this day I see these victims expelled from their homeland. The terrible guilt, where not even the Czech priests shied back from soiling their sacred vestments with blood…”
Anton Beck, who arrived in his hometown Cernosín, in Mies District, on June 12, 1945 and was thrown into prison there following gross abuse by Czech partisans, tells of being denied spiritual aid (p. 189):
“Many of those imprisoned asked for a clergyman. A Czech priest came. He stood by the cell door and asked what they wanted from him. Those that were critically ill and already marked by Death lifted up their arms and asked him to take their confession, or asked for a rosary or prayer book. But the priest said cynically, ‘that’s forbidden for Germans…’, turned away and left.”
In reports of the Church Auxiliary in Frankfurt-am-Main we read: “Unfortunately even Church organs, even clergymen, make no exception to their chauvinistic attitude towards the Germans.”
At a public assembly on June 24, 1945 in Libenec, Msgr. Stasek, who had already been an active member in the First Republic’s “Lidova Strana”, the Czech People’s Party, proclaimed: “The precept of brotherly love is void where Germans are concerned!” And Oliva – a clergyman and Director of Charitable Works – was a member of the People’s Court and frequently contributed to unjust verdicts!
Priest Hermann Schubert of Trautenau published his diary from those days, and under the date of August 7, 1945 we read: “The first publication from the Bishop’s Palace in Königgrätz has arrived together with a pastoral of the Czech diocesan bishop Mauritius Picha. One day this publication may stand as official document of the failure of Czech Catholicism in the time of greatest need. An extravagant nationalism has gripped the Czech people, right up to the highest ecclesiastical circles. […]
“It is depressing that particularly Catholic priests and Catholic laity participate in and approve of the activities of the Czech Bolshevists. The Czech catechist Janecek in Eipel, for example, is on the city’s expulsion committee. Newspapers (Lidova demokratie) and periodicals (Novy narod) that claim to be Christian in nature are proud to stand at the vanguard of the incitement against all things German. It is a disgrace that cries to heaven, that two Catholic priests are Ministers in the Bolshevist Czech government and take their full share of responsibility for the government’s measures against the Germans. Msgr. Sramek is deputy prime minister, Msrg. Hala is postmaster general. […]
“The measures being taken against the Germans are clearly and wholly against natural law, against the Divine Laws, and against all humanity and culture. The fact that Czech priests in leading positions give their approval to the dreadful brutalities of the Czech Revolution is one of the saddest aspects of Czech history.”
Diary entry of August 14, 1945: “Our Czech Commissar has arrived: Chaplain Josef Novak, about 27 years of age, till now chaplain in Eipel. We soon realized that this young priest seeks to make up for his lack of decency and education with arrogance. Whenever he is suddenly seized with another bout of Czech fanaticism, he forgets his office and his dignity.”
August 25, 1945: “Tomorrow there will be a Czech celebration in the city. The Czech chaplain wants to hoist the national flag as well as the Soviet flag over the church. I had a heated quarrel with him – the Soviet flags stays down. At night the rowdy mob ran the streets, singing old Czech songs of pilgrimage.”
August 27, 1945: “We have just learned that Dean Cölestin Baier, priest of Merkelsdorf, was shot some time ago by Czech soldiers. It is said that he was made to dig his own grave. When his housekeeper and two other persons, who were also to be shot, wept and did not want to go along, he said: ‘Come along, be calm, we’re just going home.’ Not until later did we find out that on Aug. 24, 1945, in the evening, two Padres from the Benedictine monastery at Braunau were murdered by Czech soldiers: P. Ansgard OSB and P. Alban OSB. They were led from the Schönau parish out into the woods, shot, and thrown into a shallow grave.” (Report No. 50, authenticated reports of German expellees, Dokumentation der Vertreibung der Deutschen aus Ost-Mitteleuropa, ed. Bundesministerium für Vertriebene, Flüchtlinge und Kriegsgeschädigte, Munich: dtv, 1984, reprint of 1957 ed., p. 266-268.)
In an article in the Sudeten-Post, issue 19 of October 1, 1992, our late fellow-countryman Dr. Franz Prachner wrote about the Prague Cardinal Tomasek (see also next section): “Let’s stay with the facts! At the passing of Cardinal Tomasek I shall permit myself to correct the going account. For one thing, this late prince of the Church kept a low profile with regard to the Communist rulers, and kept more or less out of sight until the end of Communist rule, unlike his predecessor, Cardinal Beranek, who courageously opposed the dictators’ wishes. Cardinal Tomasek’s words about the unjust expulsion of the Sudeten Germans were merely a belated face-saving, made after his initial statement that ‘there is no cause for an apology’ had drawn uncomfortable attention. The old maxim of not speaking ill of the dead must not lead to an inversion of the facts. Ultimately, history stands guard that truth shall remain truth.”
The Conduct of Czech and German Clergy
During the Expulsion of the Sudeten Germans
fter the First World War, but already under the Monarchy as well, the Czech clergy exhibited markedly nationalist, chauvinist conduct, whereas the German clergy acted instead in an ecclesiastically international manner.
In her book Wie es wirklich war, Frau Anna Spangl of Reinthal, Lower Austria, recounts on page 6: “Since I’m already writing of our priest Siegmund, I shall also mention his predecessor, priest Vesely, a Czech. During the First World War a bell was removed from the church bell tower and turned into cannons. After the war the district councillors decided to have a new bell cast in Brünn. But our worthy Pastor Vesely refused to consecrate it, because the inscription on the bell was in German. So it was blessed by a pater in Brünn instead, and then driven to Prittlach. For this reason we could not hold a consecration, just a bell festival.”
On page 70 of the same book Frau Spangl recalls the “Christian comfort” given her by a Czech nun: “One time, during my stay at the hospital, my Mother Superior came from the boarding school in Grillowitz to visit someone in the hospital. I greeted her and told her in tears that my father was here, half beaten to death, and my mother and all the people from my home town were in the camp and had to endure terrible things. And this ‘worthy’ nun, called by God to her holy office, answered me: ‘It serves you right, you’ve been asking for it’!!!”
On January 11, 1990, the Vienna newspaper Kurier wrote on page 5: “92-year-old Frantisek Tomasek also sees no need for an apology. The resettlement of the Germans, who had incurred guilt towards us, was justified.”!
Clergymen were also represented in the first Czech government after the Second World War, namely: Msgr. Dr. Jan Sramek as deputy prime minister and Msgr. Frantisek Hala as postmaster general. Both bear full responsibility for the brutal expulsion of innocent and defenseless Germans. Both approved the laws in question with their signatures. It is a grave error to believe that the Czech Communists alone can be held responsible for the expulsion with all its terrible consequences. They were not able to wield absolute power until after the putsch of 1948.
Two accounts speak eloquently of the attitude and actions of the Czechs of those days:
“One of our countrymen who had been sentenced to several years’ imprisonment had to do slave labor in the quarry of Waltrowitz (Valtrovice). The supervisor there said: ‘Our bishop of Prague, Beranek, recently declared: if a Czech comes to me and confesses to having killed a German, I absolve him immediately!!!!’
“A woman from a South Moravian market community told me, after having returned from the upheavals of the war, that her parish priest had said to her, verbatim: ‘Frau G., you’ll never see your husband again, he’s already in Siberia!’ (Solace offered by the Church…)
“I can take both statements on my oath. To protect family members still living, full names have not been given here.”
Wounded as Living Torches
n his book Das Ende an der Elbe, Jürgen Thorwald summarizes the situation thus:
In the first days of May 1945 a deceptive calm pervaded the region of the Protectorate. All the streets were jammed with the wretched columns of refugees from the East. Tens of thousands of wounded were squeezed by train or truck columns into this region which still appeared to be a last safe haven.
As early as the time when the German Eastern front had collapsed outside Berlin and along the Oder River, the German state minister in Bohemia and Moravia, SS-Obergruppenführer Frank, had considered turning power over to a Czech national government, but Hitler had forbidden it. Now the rapid advance of the Americans offered the Sudeten Germans significant hope. The people feared the Russians; no-one thought that the dreadful fate which awaited the Sudeten Germans would not even emanate from the Soviets at all.
Even those Germans that knew the dark, unpredictable, strange and explosive Czech character never dreamed that anything worse would happen to them than having to live under Czech rule again. Since not so much as one single Czech had been expelled or expropriated during the years of the Protectorate, no-one expected a storm of vengeance.
And in fact nothing did happen – until May 5, 1945. But the Americans in their utter blindness let the Soviets persuade them to halt at the Karlsbad-Pilsen-Budweis line and to leave the “liberation” of Czechoslovakia to the Bolsheviks.
But even if the Americans had marched on, they would have afforded the Sudeten Germans no protection. In those areas where the Americans did later occupy the land, they did not so much as lift a finger to prevent the torrent of bestiality vented on the Sudeten Germans. The majority of the GIs watched the mass murder with equanimity. These soldiers, propagandized into a gross hatred of all things German, regarded the physical extermination of the Sudeten Germans as an act of just punishment: let’s get rid of these damned Germans once and for all.
On May 5, while the units of Field Marshal Ferdinand Schörner still stemmed the tide of the Soviet advance in eastern Czechoslovakia, the Communists in Prague proceeded to get the masses moving. In the morning hours they started the rumor that American tanks were already standing at the western outskirts of Prague. It was a bluff, of course; after all, the duped Americans had halted a hundred kilometers farther east. But the rumor was all it took to unleash pandemonium. Immediately, Czech and Red flags appeared in the windows, and the citizens of Prague rushed into the streets to greet the Americans. Songs of nationalism burst forth.
At first the German soldiers and the police watched helplessly. But then something possessed Frank to order the streets cleared and noncompliant persons shot. A mad order, it may seem today. But one must consider that Schörner’s units yet fought in the east of Prague and that their rear field was to be kept clear.
Only some of the German troops obeyed Frank’s orders. But it sufficed to clear the streets in some parts of the city, and to ready artillery and machine guns; the Czech masses, believing the American tanks to be at the ready behind them, suddenly went on the offensive after Communist combat groups seized power. Every German soldier found in the streets was lynched. Smaller German offices were stormed and their staff butchered. German homes were plundered, their owners abused, beaten to death or thrown out the windows. Piles of bodies lined the streets. Armed Communists had killed the small guard posted at the radio station, and now began to broadcast an orgy of hatred into the ether. Accounts of murders allegedly committed by German soldiers were broadcast incessantly, peppered with calls for revenge and pay-back. The danse macabre of Prague began. In Wenzel Square, wounded German soldiers were hung from lamp posts, and fires were lit beneath these unfortunates so that they died a gruesome death as living torches.
Sudeten German Inferno
The hushed-up tragedy of the ethnic Germans in Czechoslovakia
The Danse Macabre Began in Prague
y the afternoon of May 5, most of the minimally staffed German offices in Prague had been stormed. Larger Wehrmacht offices and the barracks were the only ones that could still hold their own. A group of German soldiers, gathered together by a resolute Captain, defended Masaryk Train Station where thousands of German refugees and wounded had taken cover.
A gruesome fate caught up with thousands of wounded in several hospitals. After these hospitals were stormed by the mob, the bed-ridden wounded were shot in their beds. But even those who were able to walk, and who had gone out that day, were lost. Any soldier found by himself was beaten to death or hung. Thousands of wounded who had been rounded up from various hospitals were gathered together at the Scharnhorst barracks, and mowed down by submachine gun fire.
In the night of May 5-6 posters were hung on buildings and advertising columns: “Nemcum smrt!” Death to the Germans! At the same time the radio station ceaselessly exhorted the Czechs to wipe out the Germans. Their homes were systematically plundered. Many inhabitants were thrown out the windows or beaten to death, but thousands more were crowded into basements and improvised prisons and abused horribly.
With tanks and raiding parties, the centers of German resistance attempted to prevent the massacres of the German civilians, at least in their immediate vicinity. However, the Czechs thwarted these efforts to stop their advance by herding naked German women and girls ahead of them as living “anti-tank obstacles”.
In countless places in the city women had been herded through the streets wholly unclothed, urged on with clubbings and whip lashings. They were forced to tear down barricades and to gather up dead bodies to be transported off. Often these violated women had to throw their own relatives into mass graves. The rounding-up of the Germans proceeded systematically, in that the landlords were required to report all German tenants, who had been declared outlawed.
The Germans of Prague who were already rounded up on this May 5th already got their first taste of the tortures in store for them on their way to the movie theaters and schools where they were to be interned. Gatherings of Czechs from all social classes were waiting for them in the streets. The arrested Germans – men, women and children alike – had to run the gauntlet through the streets. They were attacked with stones, canes, umbrellas and even with boiling water. Arms raised, they staggered on. Women were yanked out of the groups they were in and dragged into the nearest houses and other buildings. Whoever wanted to could rape them. Nurses were stripped naked and publicly violated. The women’s heads were shorn bald with paper scissors. Their faces were painted. Their clothes were torn off their bodies, and swastikas were painted on their backs and breasts. They were raped by the thousands. Many were forced to open their mouths so that their torturers could urinate into them.
Elsewhere one could see naked women being forced to wipe up the pavement on their knees. Hundreds of Germans were driven into the underground sewers of Wenzel Square, where they stood crowded so tightly together that none could even move their arms.
But these torments were harmless compared with what was yet to come. The worst fate struck those uniformed soldiers who fell into Czech hands alone outside Prague. Those who were simply shot were the lucky ones. Many were tortured to death, hanged, drowned in cesspools and rolled to death in barrels. In Prague itself, this day saw the first mass execution of civilians, in which an ever-growing part of the population participated either actively or as spectators. These were the same people who up till then had been the most servile lackeys of the German machinery of war. But all that was only the beginning of the apocalypse of horror that descended upon the Germans of the Sudetenland.
Pankraz prison near Prague was to become the torture hell of death for countless Germans.
Russians Came in German Uniforms
n May 6 the tempest was interrupted. The radio had announced that General Vlasov’s troops, stationed near Prague, would beat the Germans down in Prague. It was known that in 1943 Vlasov had recruited an army of Russian prisoners-of-war in order to fight against the Soviet regime. He now knew himself lost, and came to a fateful decision.
As early as March 1945 Vlasov had sent trusted officers on secret missions to the British and the Americans. They were suppose to make them understand that the hundred thousand Russians who fought on the German side were no Fascists, no slaves to the Germans, no vassals, but rebels against Soviet tyranny. Most of all, they were to warn the Western powers of Moscow’s unchanged goals, which were still geared towards world domination.
But their message fell on deaf ears. Vlasov’s envoys were not even granted an audience. They were arrested and later handed over to the Soviet executors. After all, the war was not in fact fought for the cause of human rights. Only the Germans were to be wiped out.
But Vlasov did not know that. He, like many millions in Germany, indulged in the illusion that the Western democracies crusading against the National Socialists would not permit the mass murderer Stalin and the Bolshevist movement to advance their power right to the heart of Europe after Germany was destroyed. Vlasov was firmly convinced that a confrontation between East and West must be in the offing. And that was the battle in which he intended to deploy his units, who had nothing on Earth left to lose. He hoped that the Western powers would give him the backing which he had failed to gain from the Germans, who were no longer in a position to equip the one million Russian soldiers whom Vlasov wanted to lead against the Bolshevists.
And thus, on May 6, 1945, he marched his First Division into Prague, where they were to join the fighting on the Czech side and to reestablish order in Prague.
The division marched into Prague in German uniforms, in German steel helmets, and wearing St. Andrew’s cross on their sleeves. And the Czechs, pausing for a moment in their blood frenzy, virtually swamped them with flowers, while the streets everywhere were yet littered with the bodies of the Germans they had murdered. And in part Vlasov’s men did not disappoint the Czechs. The Russians fought, grimly and cruelly at times, against the SS, who in turn were fighting for their lives. But in part they also helped wherever they could. They helped many of their German prisoners to escape.
One tragedy was the fate of the young SS members who fell to the last man in Prague – butchered or hanged from lamp posts. Most of them were young ethnic Germans from the south-east who had been conscripted into the units of the Waffen-SS. Now they reluctantly wore, and died in, the uniform in which they could expect no mercy, however blameless they were. The intervention of Vlasov’s troops no doubt hastened the smothering of German resistance in Prague. Vlasov had hoped that his intervention would preserve Prague from protracted battles and great destruction. With his show of good will he wanted to establish a liaison with the Western Allies, whom he believed to be even then marching on Prague.
A tragic mistake. Americans did come, but it was only a reconnaissance unit that immediately withdrew again to Pilsen when it saw that the situation of the Germans in Prague was already hopeless. Before his departure the American commanding officer told the commander of Vlasov’s division that he should just await the arrival of the Soviet army, and keep the peace in Prague until then.
This “recommendation of suicide” exemplifies the shocking political naiveté that determined the Americans’ course of action with regard to the Soviets in those days.
A cheering crowd greets the Americans in Pilsen.
At their feet in the gutter – a murdered German.
The “Crusaders” as Mass Murderers
hen General Bunichenko, the commanding officer of Vlasov’s troops, realized that the Americans had no intention of occupying Prague, he knew that this was the death sentence for the anti-Communist Russian army of liberation. In the morning of May 7 he and his regiments left Prague for Beraun. The division had sustained many losses and many wounded, and was now caught in the maelstrom of the retreat of Vlasov’s army. On learning that Soviet tank units had broken through Schörner’s front and were advancing on Prague from the north-east, Vlasov immediately departed westward.
On their way, three Generals traveling alone had been stopped and arrested by the Czechs. They were handed over to the Soviets some few days later. The bulk of the troops, however, reached the American lines – and now there began an infernal game of treacherousness and American inhumanity. The anti-Communist troops were disarmed, and left in the belief that they were now in safety with these “crusaders for democracy”. But then they were encircled by American tanks, and at 11:00 a.m. on May 13th American officers informed General Bunichenko that he and his regiments had until 3:00 p.m. to march off to the East.
The Russians knew what that meant. They tried to break out on all sides, but the Americans had formed an iron ring of tanks around the Russian freedom fighters and ensured, by means of a terrible manhunt, that the bulk of these unfortunates were herded towards the Soviets, who were already waiting for their prey.
The Americans rounded up the members of the Russian officers’ school and the reserves in Southern Germany and Austria and drove them together in the camps Plattling, Füssen, Kempten and Linz. There were mass suicides and indescribable scenes of despair, but the “crusaders” handed all of them, to the last man, over to the Soviets.
Treachery was also used to put General Vlasov’s head on the block. He had first been taken to Castle Schlüsselberg, where American officers interrogated him for days. He found new hope, described to the Americans the satanic system of Communism, and told them what would happen if Moscow were to succeed in making half of Europe Communist. He told the Americans that Bolshevik imperialism was much more dangerous than the might of the Germans whom they had just destroyed.
But evidently this did not impress the officers, and if it did, it was useless, for it was the insiders in Washington and the Roosevelt Administration that determined the overall line taken.
In the second half of May Vlasov was asked to come attend a discussion. The Americans had rigged the whole thing with the Soviets. On their way to the “discussion”, Vlasov and his 15 officers suddenly found themselves facing the muzzles of NKVD submachine guns.
Vlasov and twelve of his officers were publicly hanged on Red Square in Moscow in 1946.
Vlasov’s troops were not the only anti-Communist fighters that were delivered to the Soviet knife. In Austria the Cossack troops were driven to death. In England 33,000 Russians who had been volunteers with the Organization Todt and were captured during the invasion were forcibly “repatriated” to the Soviet Union, there to be hanged.
What was it that Eisenhower had called the Americans: “crusaders”? “Christian soldiers” was Churchill’s term for the armies that fought against Germany. In fact they were accomplices of the Antichrist, of Stalin the Butcher.
Sudeten German Inferno
The hushed-up tragedy of the ethnic Germans in Czechoslovakia
A Million Men Sent Into Hell
ut the Russians were not the only ones to be delivered to the knife. While Prague was already the site of shootings, lynchings and torture, the three armies of Schörner’s unit still fought in the east of Czechoslovakia. In the evening of May 8, 1945, the First Armored Unit – bled white, but still fighting valiantly on – halted along the Brünn-Olmütz-Mährisch Schönberg line.
When the divisions learned that an armistice had been ordered, they turned west to try to put distance between themselves and the Soviets.
200 kilometers lay between the German rearguard on the March River and the Bohemian Forest, where the Americans stood; 200 kilometers separated them from the troops which, in their view, were not the enemy. The German soldiers coming from the East hoped that a certain common ground among western civilized peoples would unite them against Bolshevik barbarism, whose horrors they had come to know up close. At the very least, the armies that had thrown themselves as bulwark against the deadly avalanche from the East right to the final hour hoped that the Americans would take them prisoner, which was still to be preferred to Soviet captivity.
Fully a million soldiers clung to this last hope while pouring westward through the chaotic land, pursued by the Soviets and ambushed by Czech snipers. Time and again the rearguard columns were overrun by Soviet tanks advancing from behind. But the others who escaped the tanks of the Red Army ultimately also marched into disaster. Ahead of them in the West, the American lines were closed to them in a hostile wall. Wherever the privates encountered the Americans they were generally given a hostile reception. In fact they were frequently received with open hatred, and with scornful jeering that the Nazis would not manage to escape from the scene of their “crimes”. Once again America propaganda had made the Germans seem to be monsters without exception. Generals who tried to make contact with American staffs met with a cold lack of understanding. The commanding officers were under orders to use whatever means it took, even armed force, to prevent any westward march of the German army. And they did so with terrible precision.
In this way the Americans sent almost one million into the hell of Soviet captivity. It is impossible to describe the fate of the young women assistants to the armed forces, the Red Cross nurses, and the Luftwaffe assistants. Many of them were raped to death.
The only privates to escape were those who managed to slip through loopholes alone or in small groups, and fled through the woods into the West. But only a few thousand really got away. Most of them fell into the hands of dehumanized Czechs and were tortured to death. Those who were beaten to death quickly, or even handed over to the Soviets, were the lucky ones. Thousands upon thousands vanished without a trace in those days and weeks. Their murderers still live – they were all young people in those days – but their conscience is dead.
Entire divisions were massacred, and no-one knows of their fate. The end of the heavy mortar division 534 is known only because one single man escaped. Ludwig Breyer: “We were on our way to the Americans. At Melnik Bridge a ‘friendly’ Czech major promised us safe-conduct if we would lay down our arms. We trusted him, and did so. There were 318 of us, and now we also had to hand over all our valuables and march to the town Liebeznice in rows of five. Once the entire column was on the main street, gunfire burst from all the houses. I got away because I was at the end of the column. The dead had fallen in heaps in the street. I have heard that all the wounded were later murdered, with bullets into the back of the neck.
“This mass murder must have been carefully planned. Our marching column had obviously been announced before we arrived. The major had only had the task of deceiving us and persuading us to give up our weapons.”
Germans are expelled on foot after the end of the war.
Prague: Sea of Inhumanity
eanwhile, hell began for the Germans in Prague.
Jürgen Thorwald wrote: “When the Germans who had been herded into the Ruzyn prison in Prague on May 6 and 7 gathered their children up from the floor where they had collapsed from exhaustion, and were led outside in the morning of May 9, they did not know that they had not yet passed through even the outer reaches of the hell to come.
“Nevertheless many of them were already so exhausted that they wished for their tormentors to simply pull the triggers of those pistols with which they had already been beaten and threatened so often. Now they were supposed to go into the city to tear down barricades.
“But even before they were lined up to be marched off, some of those who happened to stand near the gates got a taste of what lay in store for them. Trucks loaded with wounded German soldiers suddenly drove into the yard. Wretched figures were among the human cargo, pictures of human suffering and forlornness. They still wore blood-soaked bandages. And the faces of the doctors and nurses accompanying them showed such a degree of horror that the Germans in the yard shuddered. They did not know what was happening even then in many hospitals. They did not know that Czech men and women were throwing wounded out of their beds, beating to death and throttling helpless victims, castrating them or drowning them in their wash bowls. Or that they were throwing them into sheds or garages or loading them onto trucks, and in some places were even laying them on the street so that mounted soldiers could ride over them.
“While the wounded were still standing pale and frightened beside the truck they had come in, a group of rioters that had been lurking in the yard pounced on them, snatched away their crutches, canes and bandages, beat them to the ground and proceeded to pound away at them with clubs, rails and hammers until they lay unmoving in their blood.
“Were they still human, those beings on Wenzel and Karls Square and in the Rittergasse who on May 9 doused Germans with gasoline, hung them by their feet from poles and lamp posts and set them on fire, and then laughed and howled and cheered to their agony, which lasted all the longer because the victims had been deliberately hung head-down so the rising smoke could not suffocate them? Were they still human, those beings who took German soldiers, but also civilians and women, tied them together with barbed wire, shot them and then threw the bundles of people into the Moldau River? Were they still human, those beings who drowned German children in the tubs of water intended for putting out fires, and who pitched women and children out the windows into the streets? They had human faces. But they were no longer human.
“They were not human, those beings who indiscriminately bludgeoned any and every German they got hold of until he or she collapsed. They were not human, those beings who forced naked German women to clear out rocks, who cut their Achilles tendons and reveled in their helplessness. No, they were no longer human, those beings who dragged the Germans out of the underground sewers of Wenzel Square, clubbed them to the ground and literally trampled them to death, and they were not humans who took the German girls, the Wehrmacht assistants who had fallen into their hands, stripped them of their clothes, and herded them through Fachoba Street towards the Wolschaner cemetery, where they machine-gunned them, or clubbed and stabbed others so that they sought refuge in piles of hay, which the howling torturers promptly set on fire.
“And these were only a few high points in the sea of inhumanity in which a simple shooting – even if it was the shooting of hundreds of students in Prague’s Adolf Hitler School – seemed merciful.”
We Kissed the Rotting Corpses
ot all Sudeten Germans went through the inferno of unbridled brutality. The pandemonium was localized. After the first outburst of blood thirst, it was the concentration camps that became hell on earth. The book Documents on the Expulsion of the Sudeten Germans represents a sober record of the statements given by survivors of these camps. The following are some highlights – screams from hell.
Hilde Hurtinger (Prague): “On May 5, 1945 a Czech mob took me from my home and, beating and clubbing me all the while, dragged me by the hair some 500 meters into the Scharnhorst School, where I was grossly abused.
“The following night all the prisoners there were repeatedly called into the yard. After that, random groups of ten women, men and children each were assembled and shot. I watched my two brothers and one of their children die like that. The child was only five months old.
“Then we had to dig graves, undress the bodies and bury them. Random shots were taken at the prisoners at other times as well, day and night. One such time a bullet grazed my neck. I stayed where I lay under the corpses for a whole day and night because I did not dare get up. Then Revolutionary Guardsmen stepped over the bodies and blindly stabbed any who still lived with their bayonets. My left hand was impaled in the process.
“In separation we got nothing at all to eat. Children were given spittoons as ‘meals’.
“Armed Czech women dragged pregnant prisoners from the cells and out into the yard, where they stripped and beat them, then stuffed them into latrines and beat them until their bellies burst. I myself had to help carry off the bodies of the women who had died that way. During the day groups of six to eight women were taken to work in St. Gotthard Church. There we had to kiss the dead bodies that were already rotting, pile them up, and clean the church floor of the blood that ran there by getting down on our knees and licking it up by mouth. A Czech mob supervised this work and beat us. On May 20 we were led into Wenzel Square where German boys and girls, and soldiers too, were hung alive by their feet from lamp posts and trees and, in front of our very eyes, were doused with petroleum and set on fire.”
Germans are led to run the gauntlet. Note that the Czech “RG” (Revolutionary Guard) are wearing German helmets.
Physicist Dr. K. F., who was beaten half to death and imprisoned in a basement, recalls: “The afternoon of May 10 brought me what was perhaps the most gruesome experience of all those days. A troop of armed men came in and selected the six youngest and strongest of us. I was one of them. After they had promised our guard that they would bring us back alive if possible, they led us to Wenzel Square. It was packed with a roaring, howling crowd and they had to clear a way for us first.
“Thus we arrived at the junction of Wassergasse street, where we saw the job that awaited us: from the large advertising billboard at this corner hung three naked corpses, suspended from the feet and burned with gasoline. The faces were mutilated beyond recognition, all the teeth knocked out, the mouths just bloody holes. The roasted skin stuck to our hands. We had to carry them into Stefansgasse street, and drag them when we could no longer carry. A passer-by tried to photograph our procession, but he was seen and beaten half to death.
“When we had put the bodies down we were forced to kiss them on the mouth. We were told, ‘To jsou prece vasi bratri, ted’ je polibejte!’ (‘They’re your brothers, now kiss them!’) I still hear these words as though they had been said today. No matter how revolting it was, staying alive was more important, and so we squeezed our lips together and pressed them into the bloody ooze that represented their mouths. To this day I can feel the ice-cold heads in my hands.
“The following night, the five men who had been on Wenzel Square with me were shot. Only dead men could tell no tales. I owe my life to one Czech who let me get away.”
Sudeten German Inferno
The hushed-up tragedy of the ethnic Germans in Czechoslovakia
By Women With Submachine Guns
erman privates were also shot and beaten to death en masse in those days. One homecomer, Eduard Flach, reports:
“On August 9, 1945, 18 men in our camp were discovered to have been marked with the ‘SS rune’. They had not been volunteer SS men, but ethnic Germans who had been drafted into the SS. All of them were very young fellows.
“These eighteen prisoners-of-war now had to stand up, one beside the other, with their faces towards a wooden barracks. The Czech guards and soldiers now beat them on their bare backs with iron bars and rifle butts until they collapsed into bleeding heaps. As the prisoners lay moaning on the ground, the Czechs pulled them up again and threw cold water on them. To this day I still see vividly how the fingers of several prisoners were smashed with heavy cudgel blows. This abuse of unparalleled brutality went on for about two hours, until darkness fell. At that point we were allowed to go, and the unconscious prisoners were dragged into the soldier camp – which was separated from the actual prison camp by a barbed wire fence – and there the beating continued. They could no longer even scream, only whimper. Again they were revived with water, and only then did the Czechs put them out of their misery with a bullet.”
Another private, Hans Freund, recalls:
“I myself witnessed the following scene on Sparta Square in Prague. We were marched past the sports field, and after the order to ‘halt’ we were told to surrender our German military passbooks. About 50 men handed their passbooks over; about 300 men, including myself, did not. The 50 who had obeyed were herded onto the sports field and lined up facing a wall. The gates were closed, and the 50 men were mowed down from two sides with submachine guns operated by two women.
“When the prisoners were transferred into the custody of the Russian military, one Czech lieutenant, Jara Prochazka, was shot by a Soviet officer for wanting to maltreat us.”
A Carinthian police officer who had served in the Estonian Legion reports:
“Together with eleven comrades I attempted to escape from Czechoslovakia via Hirschberg. But some Czechs caught us. It was not the usual practice to take small groups prisoner. They were simply gunned down. But we were lucky to be in the immediate vicinity of a camp where more than 1,400 prisoners were already being held. We were shoved in with the rest, and then they herded us off to Prague. On the run. Anyone who could run no longer dropped in their tracks. Then we would hear a shot behind us. The first to be shot were the older comrades, the Blitzmädchen – girls who had been assistants to the Wehrmacht – and the nurses, and our group shrank and shrank. We suffered raging thirst, but anyone who tried to get near a well or fountain was shot down. Of our group of more than 1,400 people, only a few hundred made it to Prague alive, and there we were handed over to the Russians. After our release from Russian captivity we again fell into Czech hands in Bodenbach in autumn 1945.
“At the train station the Czech railway people fell on us with iron bars and spanners and beat those at the fringes of our group into a terrible state. Later, in the train station building, we were asked which of us were able to speak a foreign language. Several spoke up. They were led outside, and right away we heard the bursts of gunfire that killed them.
“The admissions procedure at Brüx consisted of having to bend over a trestle and being horribly beaten by several torturers. If someone lost control over his bowels during the beating, the rest of us had to eat his feces if we did not wish to be gunned down. Abuse was the order of the day later on as well. One night the commanding officer arrived, together with a dog. A priest and I had to crawl in a circle while the dog literally tore our buttocks to pieces.
“I went through horrible things. But to this day it still tears at my heartstrings to recall the 13- or 14-year-old boy who was murdered before our eyes with a bullet into the back of his neck because, weakened as he was by hunger and exhaustion, he had been a tiny bit late at roll call.”
Walter Fillafer of Klagenfurt recalls a scene from a Czech concentration camp:
“A tall blond Czech girl about 17 years of age was playfully swinging a submachine gun hanging over her shoulder. Suddenly she snapped the gun down, pulled the trigger and emptied her entire magazine into the crowd of soldiers waiting to march-off. I was unharmed and heard the order: whoever can move, gather at the edge of the woods. Anyone who tries to tend the wounded will be shot.
“Germans who were caught alone or in small groups had no chance of surviving. They were shot or beaten to death on the spot. Fusilier commandos overpowered the starved and defenseless privates and strung them from the trees.”
50,000 Watched the Executions
n Sunday, May 13, 1945, near noon, Czech President Dr. Eduard Benes arrived in Prague. Rows of German people were set on fire as living torches in his honor.
The following is from the account of Dr. Hans Wagner, physician, who – almost by a miracle – was still at liberty that day. On May 14 he too was arrested. He witnessed the following:
“In the Altstädter Ring the sooty rubble of the gutted city hall and of several private homes stood out against the sky. From the wrought-iron company signs of the ‘Usvatého Havla’, a well-known restaurant opposite the city theater, dangled the half-charred remains of German soldiers, hung feet-up. One of the bodies was missing its right arm all the way up to the armpit – he had obviously been an amputee.
“Shouting and yelling carried over from the main gate of Wilson Train Station. I saw that a blonde woman was being attacked by the crowd, even though she defended herself in Czech and without any accent. In a trice she was surrounded, the clothes were torn off her body, and already she lay naked and covered in blood on the pavement, where she was beaten further. At that point a heavy beer wagon drove past, and in a great commotion the crowd unhitched the horses. One was tied to each leg of the prostrated woman and then urged in opposite directions. The body was torn apart; the woman screamed horribly before she died.
“One Sunday afternoon the Revolutionary Guard invaded one of the double cells in our block, where 25 boys aged 14 to 16 were housed. These boys were from the Reichenberg area and were accused of having been ‘werewolves’. As we could hear from the orders given, the boys were lined up outside the door in rows of two, facing each other. First they had to enact a children’s hopping game, after which they were ordered to shout ‘Heil Hitler’ and to box each other’s ears. Both male and female spectators urged them on, and not only with rubber truncheons. This ‘game’ escalated into bloodshed; the boys then had to lick the blood off the stone floor. If one refused, he was beaten for it. Some of these children became sick to their stomachs, and the others were forced to eat their vomit. Then they were forced to strip to their skin, and one after the other had to lie on a table where they were flogged until the flesh hung in shreds from their bodies. All the while their torturers indulged in the most dirty and stupid jokes imaginable. When all the boys had been thus tortured, they were dragged into the basement, and those that still gave any sign of life were strung up on hooks on the wall, and liquidated.
“The Czech security guard Cink from the automobile and airplane factory Walter in Jinonitz near Prague lay ill in my cell. He ran a raging fever. Diagnosis: kidney disease. One night he fell out of bed, delirious, and remained lying unconscious on the floor. When I pulled the blanket off his bunk to cover him up, the toilet stench from his cot almost knocked me over. Neither urine bottle nor night pot had been provided for him, so that all his body wastes had remained where they happened to fall. Dying, he was taken to the General Hospital.
“One beautiful September evening there was a tremendous uproar on the square outside the Pankraz Palace of Justice. That part of the square which I was able to observe from my window (though I had been forbidden to do so) was jam-packed with automobiles and pedestrians, mothers came pushing their prams and even the school-age children climbed up on the roofs of the cars. Suddenly a seemingly endless torrent of applause burst out: Professor Dr. Josef Pfitzner, mayor of Prague, was being hung on the middle of three tall gallows that were set up on a black-draped podium.
“Pfitzner was followed by a number of other well-known persons. The execution show lasted for hours. 50,000 Czechs watched insatiably.”
The public execution of German university professor Dr. Josef Pfitzner of Prague on Pankraz Square on September 6, 1945 was turned into Czech public entertainment.
First Tortured, Then Shot in the Grave
ith raised hands the German men of Landskron had to appear before a Revolutionary Tribunal on May 17, 1945, recounts Julius Friedel. “The first in each row had to carry a portrait of Hitler, covered with phlegm and bloody spit, and the next in line had to lick it clean when ordered to do so.
“The last 20 to 30 steps to the Judges’ table had to be traversed by the men on their knees. Here each was told what his sentence would be. And then a terrible running of the gauntlet began; many were drowned in the firefighting pond. Karl Piffl, master carpenter, was dragged out of the pond again half-dead, and was then literally beaten to death and trampled to mush.
“Foreman Reichstädter was beaten beyond recognition, stood up against the wall of the city hall, and shot. Running out of the alley that led to the prison, driven on by howling Czechs, came engineer Josef Neugebauer, streaming with blood. He too died facing the wall of the city hall with hands raised – felled by a hail of bullets from submachine guns. Engineer Otto Dietrich died the same way. Peasant farmer Viktor Benes died there too after the top of his skull had been shot off. And those were only the people I knew personally.
“The cries of agony of the bleeding people soon drowned out everything else. The dead lay piled everywhere.
“On May 18 those who still survived were again herded together in the city square. The most horrible tortures continued. After his share of the torture, master plumber Josef Jurenka had to place the noose around his own neck, to be hung from a gas street lamp.
“Robert Schwab, an official from Ober-Johnsdorf, died similarly. The other Germans had to keep the bodies of these two hanged men constantly in swinging motion. Engineer Köhler, who was originally from Germany, was stabbed with walking-canes, to the gleeful howling of the mob. All day long the normally quite city square rang with dreadful cries and screams. After that day, mass suicides of Germans began throughout the District.”
Regarding Komotau, Ottokar Kremen reports:
“The soldiers from the SS were tortured horribly. Those who had already been beaten twice or even three times had festering wounds. The pus soaked through their shirts and jackets. The backs of these poor people were crawling with flies and stank dreadfully. They were put separately in a small room called ‘Marodka’. Once eight to ten were in ‘Marodka’, these battered people who could barely move had to dig a hole two meters deep and 60 cm wide. In the evening, when the hole was finished, they were forced to stand up beside it and the first of them had to lie down in the hole (grave), and not until he was in it was he shot from above. The second man had to lie down on the first body and was also shot from above, and in this way it continued until the grave was stacked full. One time there was still some room left over for one more, and so they got a woman, 67 years of age, whose hair had been cut off. She had been tortured, but still refused to tell where her son was. She had to lie down on top of the bodies. Then she too was killed.
“Words fail me to describe the appearance of those people who had been beaten twice. I saw a member of the Waffen-SS who had already endured two beatings. Aside from his body, which was battered to a pulp, his private parts had swollen by about 8 or 9 cm in diameter, they were wholly suffused with blood and the testicles were beginning to fester; right to the anus everything was full of pus, and he stank horribly. Every day more and more people joined the ranks of these unfortunates. The ‘Stráz bezpecnosti’ brought the people into the camp already half-dead.
“And then came the day of the mass murders in Postelberg. Large groups, up to 80 men at a time, were gathered up and marched out. The men knew what was in store for them. They strode upright and with stony faces past those who remained behind. Not one begged for his life.”
Gruesome “Czech Cocktail”
an Kouril is probably the only Czech who has been called to account for his crimes. He was recognized and arrested in 1951 in Karlsruhe, and sentenced to 15 years’ imprisonment.
The indictment stated, “Kouril was the terror of the Kaunitz camp. Beatings and tortures took place on his orders, and prisoners were forced to drink pus and urine out of buckets.” Prisoners were hauled up and down a gallows as public entertainment. Others were branded with a red-hot iron. In the interrogation room one witness was pushed face-first into a full bedpan while having to sing the German national anthem. The camp’s former gravedigger later testified that in the course of his work there he had carted off the bodies of about 1,800 Germans who had been hung or beaten to death.
And another witness, speaking of Postelberg, reports: “What took place in the large square is beyond human imagination. Here one is boxed about the ears, there another is being kicked; here a dog is set on some prisoners, there some are beaten with truncheons on their bare buttocks, and next to them, other prisoners are forced to beat each other with canes, while guards look on to make sure that the blows are not perchance too gentle.”
Senior district court judge Dr. Franz Freyer recounts this incident:
“One time five German boys had tried to escape. But they were found and brought back only a few hours later, and taken to Captain Marek. Agitated and trembling, men and boys watched the terrible scene that was now played out before their eyes. ‘One word of displeasure, just one, and we will shoot!’ Marek warned us. The five boys were led to the riding school, stripped of their pants, and the punishment began. It was disgusting to see how the Czechs crowded around, each eager to land a few blows of his own. The merciless blows with canes and whips reduced the boys to heart-rending whimpers. Blood ran down their thighs, then the Czech ‘soldiers’ dispersed. The boys remained standing with their faces to the wall. A guard posted himself beside them.
“Gradually the agitated spectators calmed down. Everyone believed that the boys’ punishment was over and done with this beating. But we were terribly mistaken.
“Half an hour later, several Czechs holding guns took up position near the boys. A guard called out: ‘Anyone else who tries to escape will be shot, just like these boys will be now.’
“At first the frightened boys looked over their shoulders, then they turned around. Two of the Czechs who stood fairly close aimed at the first boy in the line-up. Their shots rang out, and the boy sank to the ground. His blood stained the wall behind him. The other boys pleaded, ‘Captain, sir, we won’t do it again!’ The second boy in the line tried to run to the executioners to slap their rifle barrels up – but these murderers had already repeated their guns, and the second boy fell to the ground amid their fire. Mortar sprayed up, and again blood stained the wall. The remaining three boys now faced their fate heroically. The third cried out for his mother before collapsing; the fourth remained on his feet after the first salvo, looked silently into the gun barrels pointed at him anew, and sank to the ground only after the second row of shots. The fifth was also gunned down. These boys were perhaps 15 years old.
“We grown-ups had to watch the murders helplessly. There was to be no end to the mental torture that day. Those marked for death were kept in the stables along the narrow back of the yard. Punctually on the stroke of every hour, a group of Czechs armed with canes and whips went into the stables, and then, for about ten minutes, we heard the screams and whimpers of the beaten. This went on like that until evening. The shootings themselves were not as nerve-racking as this torturing of people who had been chosen for execution and who were so brutally tormented beforehand. Every day prisoners were shot and thrown into the slit trenches, which the rest of us then had to use as latrines.”
Sudeten German Inferno
The hushed-up tragedy of the ethnic Germans in Czechoslovakia
The Mass Dying in the Elbe River
n unbelievable fate struck thousands of Germans in Aussig.
Herbert Schernstein, a Communist, had been in the concentration camps Theresienstadt, Sachsenhausen and Ravensbrück from 1938 to 1945. He recounts: “On July 8 I returned from the concentration camp to Aussig, where the Czechs had just deported my mother. One day near the end of July, already past 4:00 p.m., members of the Svoboda Guard drove all the Germans from the surrounding blocks of houses out of their homes and hounded them en masse into the Elbe River. I saw women and children vanish among the waves. Czech groups with submachine guns had set up on Ferdinand Heights, whence they shot at the Germans floating in the river. I would estimate that some 2,000 Germans were killed that way. The Czechs proceeded especially severely against German anti-Fascists, who were made to wear red identifying armbands.”
Another eyewitness remembers: “The wildest groups raged near the market square and the train station. Women were thrown into the Elbe along with their babies in their prams, and the soldiers then used them for target practice, shooting at the women until they no longer surfaced. They also threw Germans into the water reservoir in the market square, and pushed them back underwater with poles whenever they tried to come up for air.”
Konrad Herbertstein saw the happenings at the Elbe bridge: “I saw hundreds of German laborers from the Schicht works being thrown into the Elbe. The Czechs also shoved women and children and even baby carriages into the river.
“It was not until about 5:00 p.m. that some Russian officers tried to stop the raging mob, and a few Czechs in uniform were helping them. The Czech mayor of Aussig at that time – his name was Vondra – had tried his best to stop the murdering mob, who had come from outside Aussig, and he was almost thrown into the Elbe himself for his efforts.”
Another account shows how the Czech military also participated in the murdering. Josef Grössl has testified:
“I was arrested, tied hand and foot, beaten unconscious three times in a row, and then thrown into a one-man bunker in the Welpert camp. Eleven men from the farming community had already been shot there by Lieutenant Anton Cerny’s unit. By a lucky coincidence I escaped the same fate, and stayed in the camp for 14 days as the lieutenant’s batman. Every day I saw people being abused, shot, or beaten to death with a hammer. The lieutenant himself saw to the shooting. I personally witnessed the executions of about 20 people. Afterwards I was forced to lick the lieutenant’s blood-spattered boots clean.”
Heinrich Michel recalls the concentration camp Lerchental: “One day – I do not remember the exact date – a father and his son, who had returned to his parents’ home from the battlefront only the evening before, were brought to the camp. Just outside the gate to the concentration camp the son tried to flee. He was mowed down with a submachine gun. The father was forced to cart the body of his murdered son into the camp in a wheelbarrow, and was brutally beaten all the while. A gruesome funeral procession.”
Elisabeth Böse attests: “On just a single day, twelve men were put to a gruesome death in Wichstadl. After their noses and ears had been cut off, they were beaten and thrown into the water, and then they were hanged from the trees surrounding the church. Among them was a Czech who had made weapons for the Volkssturm. We inhabitants of the town were not allowed to leave our houses while this tragedy was going on. One neighbor (a farmer) had to dig his own grave before being shot.”
F. Fiedler attests: “In Haida 60 prisoners, including many women, were forced to strip to the waist and take off their shoes. Then they had to kneel on the pavement of the market square and were grossly beaten on the chest and the soles of their feet by Czech tormentors until they collapsed unconscious. Cold water poured on the heads of these victims brought them to again so that the torture could be continued. This maltreatment went on until daybreak, and then these poor people who had been tortured to the brink of death were shot in the market square.”
The Baby’s Head in the Latrine
rau M. v. W.’s observation about her stay at camp Pohrlitz go also for all the other camps: the most terrible and humiliating thing of all were the constant beatings.
“Beatings were administered by fist, by whip and by rubber cable. Beatings happened day and night; no night went by without beatings, screaming, and the crack of whips and bullets. At night, Czechs from outside the camp forced their way in, and the prisoners were dragged out of their bunks and beaten until they passed out.
“Night after night the women were raped – even the sick and the elderly, even the 70-year-olds. The partisans let the soldiers in, and each of the women were abused several times a night. I once saw a soldier trying to rape a delicate eleven-year-old girl. The horrified mother tried to fight him off with the superhuman strength of desperation, and offered herself to the soldier instead, to save her child.”
An account from Modrassy:
A mother whose newborn had starved to death committed suicide. One of the gendarmes ordered: “Throw the dirty pig and her bastard into the latrine!” Three women had to throw the bodies of the mother and her dead baby into the open cesspit. Partisans then forced the inmates of the camp to use this cesspit as toilet so that “the dirty sow and her bastard disappear as fast as possible,” as they put it. This continued for days, and even weeks later the baby’s head and one of the mother’s arms could be seen sticking out of the filth.
In one barracks a young mother of four children, the youngest of which was three years old, suddenly died. The Czech physician who came to do the post-mortem barked at the dead woman’s sobbing mother: “What are you howling for, you German bitch, at least one more German pig has kicked the bucket!”
Frau Martha Wölfel reports about Klaidovka:
“In our camp all the toddlers four years old and younger died of malnutrition. There were more than 200 of them. My child died there too, on April 12, 1946, at the age of 15 months. Three or four days earlier the child had been taken to the children’s hospital ward, where even the Czechs were horrified at the shape the child was in. They notified me in the camp when the child died. But when I asked where it would be buried, one of the guards gave me such a blow to the head that I collapsed unconscious. To this day I don’t know where my child is buried. It was the same for other women.
“One pregnant woman was tortured especially badly. When a Czech soldier entered the room and spat there, she had to kneel down and lick up his spit. If she had refused, she would have been beaten to death. Sometimes she was beaten until she vomited blood, and then they forced her to eat what she had thrown up.
“Czech doctors refused to treat venereal diseases resulting from rape; the German women literally begged them for medication. Wounded German soldiers whose open abscesses were crawling with worms and who were covered all over with sores were simply left to their fate. People who did not yet have dysentery were forced to lick the soiled clothes of people who did. Anyone who refused was beaten unconscious.
“A 15-year-old boy whose father had managed to escape was beaten daily until they found his father, who was then tied by the hands and doused with boiling water. His son was also tied up, and forced to watch.
“The screams of the poor man thus tortured to death pushed many camp inmates to nervous breakdowns.
“Nervous breakdowns were the order of the day anyhow, and the Czechs regarded that as a perfectly normal condition. It is impossible to describe all that happened. I can only pick out a few examples.”
Prague, May 1945: Germans as slave-labor road crews. The forced laborers were often at the mercy of acts of violence from the vicious mob.
Crucified on the Barn Door
he affidavits about the expulsion of the Sudeten Germans were all sworn by persons living in Germany. They had been questioned by the Ministry for Displaced Persons in Bonn. All the more significant, therefore, are the statements of Austrians, which have not found their way into any published documentation.
Frau Johanna Huber of Klagenfurt is one of many. She cannot recall those days without shuddering:
Photo from the days of Wellemin.
“Together with the Russians, Czech partisans arrived in our almost entirely German town of Wellemin, near Leitmeritz. We stayed on our 125-acre estate, even though Jim, our British prisoner-of-war [farm laborer], pleaded with us to leave with them. He wanted to take us to safety. But we had a clear conscience, and besides, we had never had anything to do with the National Socialist Party. We had no idea what was in store for us. First the Czechs exercised lynch-law on the Party functionaries. One of them, a master carpenter whose name I don’t recall, was beaten half to death and then thrown into the eleven-meter-deep well. The local group leader, senior primary school teacher Kurzweil, was beaten to death in a basement together with several of his friends.
“But the orgy of hate was not directed only against Party functionaries. Very soon we realized with horror that all of us Germans, without exception and with no regard to our attitude towards the Party, had become fair game, literally overnight. We had to wear white identifying armbands, were forbidden to use the sidewalks, and were driven with beatings and clubbings to clean the latrines in public office buildings. Other women had to carry heavy grenades and shells. My 58-year-old mother suffered an abdominal rupture doing this. Through my desperate pleading I was able to obtain permission from a Russian in Milleschau to take her in a hand-cart to the hospital in Leitmeritz, 17 miles away. But once we were there they did not want to admit her, because she was German. A German senior physician had the suicidal courage to insist on her admission and to operate on her. And she was almost recovered already when all German patients and the senior physician himself were killed by Czechs. I never saw my beloved mother again.
“On my way to the Russian command post in Milleschau, I had seen with horror how Czechs dragged wounded German privates and Blitzmädchen, girls who had been assistants to the Wehrmacht, into Count Milleschau’s castle, whose cellars had been turned into day-and-night torture chambers. I still hear within myself the bloodcurdling screams that came from the depths of this building that had once been an architectural jewel of our region. As I learned later, the people were first beaten half to death and then hoses were pushed up their rectum and their intestines forcibly filled with high-pressure water. Of course the Count himself had been the first to be killed.
“The road from Milleschau to Wellemin was a highway of horror. The dreadfully battered bodies of German soldiers lay everywhere. Many of them still wore dirty, bloody bandages – they must have been wounded who had tried in vain to crawl for their lives. I was unspeakably afraid for my 14-year-old daughter Marlene, who had hidden herself and a friend in the working quarters of the neighboring house, where a Russian officer was quartered. That way the house was safe from the Czechs.
“But Marlene suffered weeks of psychologically devastating terror in her hiding place.
“Three days after my mother was admitted to the hospital, all the young women in Wellemin were rounded up. In groups we were led into the basement of the town hall. Wooden blocks had been set up there. Under the greedy eyes of ‘Revolutionary Guardsman’ we had to undress and lie down on the blocks.
“Then the young Czechs stepped up one after the other and beat us with wooden bludgeons on our backs, buttocks and thighs, but especially on the kidney area. The weakest among us did not survive this torture. Those who had proved to be the toughest were then also raped, even though they were only semiconscious and whimpering in pain.
“I was locked up, alone, in the dark bathroom of the town hall. For hours I still heard the gruesome screams of the tortured women in the basement. In my despair all I wished for was a quick death.”
Johanna Huber recalls that news of further horrors arrived frequently from the surrounding villages. In Katzauer the farmer Malik was nailed head-down onto the door of his barn. Then wooden matches were driven under his fingernails, and lit.
Sudeten German Inferno
The hushed-up tragedy of the ethnic Germans in Czechoslovakia
“Cesarean Section”, Czech-Style
ohanna Huber continues:
“But the most gruesome death of all was reserved for my pregnant neighbor, Frau Kosnarsch. Her amputee husband (he had lost a leg), both her parents, and her daughter were brutally beaten to death in the house. The pregnant woman’s stomach had been trampled or cut open; it was one huge, gruesome, horrible, dreadful wound. The umbilical cord was wrapped around the dead woman’s throat, and the unborn baby’s brains were splattered over the wall.
“On our estate lived 80-year-old Anna Preis. A partisan smashed her glasses with a club in such a way that the glass shards cut her eyes. The blinded woman hanged herself in despair a few days later.
“Suicide was the only way out for many people in those days. Today we know that there was a huge wave of German suicides throughout all of Czechoslovakia. We too searched the barn, in vain, for some ergot with which to poison ourselves. The pharmacist Pfeifer, a half-Jew who had been horribly abused, advised us to take razor blades and slit our wrists to escape all the horror, he said that this was the least painful death. What luck that we couldn’t find any razor blades. Fate spared our lives, even if we did lose everything that the hard work of generations had wrought.”
In May and June the wave of suicides that struck many towns and villages of the Sudetenland claimed the lives of older people in particular. By law the Germans no longer had any rights whatsoever. If they even had a home left at all, they were forced to keep it open to plunderers at all times. They had to hand in all their valuables, from jewelry to cameras.
Germans were forbidden to use public transit. They were forbidden to leave their homes, except on orders or at specific times. Letter-writing was also forbidden, as was entering a public inn, a train station or a post office. They usually received no ration cards at all, and if they did, these included no stamps for meat, eggs, milk, cheese or fruit – which meant the death sentence for many children.
Insofar as they were not already locked up in the concentration camps, the Germans were obligated to forced labor without pay. In many places, the people were ordered to assemble at certain locations, whence they were transported off as labor slaves to work in agriculture, mining or industry. The German clergy was also not spared the orgy of hate. Cistercian abbot Eberhard Harzer of Ossegg recounts:
“At every other step on my return to the cell I had to step over a dead or half-dead person. Back in the barracks I heard the old German men of Maria-Ratschitz being shot down behind the barracks wall. They included almost all the old Christian-Socialist party members. The women were beaten horribly, to the point where they could barely see through the swelling. All women had been raped, and many had severe internal injuries and were infected with syphilis.
“When the ‘Svobodici’ could rape no more, they resorted to bottle necks with which they continued torturing the women. When I left this camp in October, many of these women were still lying badly injured in the sick-rooms.”
The abbot had been repeatedly arrested, abused and released again.
On November 29, 1945, he writes, “I was arrested again and taken to the concentration camp in Dux. There were some fellow-prisoners there who had endured that terrible day in Bilin. Men and women from the environs of Bilin were herded together in the market square where they had to strip naked and then had to march single-file past the Czech population, who beat them with whips and canes. After that, the men in particular had to crawl in a row on all fours like dogs, and were beaten until they lost control over their bowels. The ones behind then had to lick it off the ones in front of them. This torture continued until many had been beaten to death; the priest of Radowesitz was among these. What was done to the women there is simply beyond description – the sadistic monstrosity of it all is too much.”
Father lay in the Pile of Corpses
he women suffered terrible things in those days. Frau Hermine Weissmann of Klagenfurt recounts:
“To this day the memories make me tremble.”
“My experiences still weigh on my mind so much that I start to tremble whenever I so much as speak about them. I was 17 years old at the time – at that age a person retains things very vividly. I am from Southern Moravia. My home town, Schaffa, is one kilometer away from the Austrian border. In our town there were never any Czechs – only servants – and then the gendarmerie.
“On May 5, 1945 the Czechs came to get my father. He wasn’t even given enough time to put his shoes on. They beat him half-unconscious and dragged him to a truck and threw him up like an animal – we were paralyzed with horror.
“On May 13 we were taken to a forest clearing near Stallek. Even from afar we could already smell the stench of decomposing bodies. We were forced to search through the mountain of corpses for our missing relatives. I don’t know how many dead bodies lay there, swollen and distended by the heat. All of them lay face-down, and all wore the identifying armband ‘Nemecky’. All of them had been murdered via a bullet in the neck. We recognized them by their clothes – it was truly hell. We were ‘generously’ permitted to take our dead home, at night and in a box that stood ready.
“Meanwhile the other men of the town had also been apprehended, and for two days and nights they were crowded together without food in the basement of the local school, which was flooded chest-high with water. Then they were flogged there with whips to whose ends iron nuts had been tied, and whoever passed out, drowned.
“Later the survivors were taken into the interior of Czechoslovakia. Many never returned – and for those who did, it was not until 1946, and they were broken men. My uncles Lambert Koller and Johann Mang were among them. When the Czechs went on the rampage among those of us who remained in the town, we went for help from the Russians, who were stationed in Riegersburg, Austria, three kilometers away.
“On June 4, 1945, Czechs with guns at the ready took my family and me to the Austrian border and expelled us. We were allowed to take 50 pounds of luggage, and even that was ultimately taken from us at the border.”
Frau Sylvia Schlosser, Vienna:
“We saw dreadful, inconceivable cruelties in the camp. Often we heard the screams of the tortured people all day and night long. We children were also beaten. I lost my father, a physician, to a horrible fate. From my uncle, who was in a camp in Moravian Ostrau together with my father, I learned that my father, who had had to work in the coal pits, was killed most brutally. He and other men had to stand in front of a coal cart that held red-hot coal, and guards poured that over the German men. The charred corpses were then thrown into a mass grave. Our family physician from Moravian Ostrau was hanged, his mother, more than 80 years old, was torn to pieces on a market square by tying her legs to two horses. Many innocent people shared that same fate.
“When I remember this horrible time after the war in that country, I do also recall a Czech woman who risked her own life to take some food to her former employer in the Czech concentration camp, and I recall the young Czech woman who got me out of the camp for a few weeks by persuading the Czech camp guard that she needed someone to help her with her six-month-old baby. I was not quite ten years old at that time. The woman gave me something to eat, and that was certainly not the least reason why I survived.”
Frau Therese Stonner-Ther from Bad Groß-Ullersdorf:
“In June 1945 my sister, Gertrud Guntermann, was found badly wounded in her home in Moravian Schönberg. One of her neighbors hurried to the nearest doctor and asked for help. The doctor brusquely refused any and all aid, and said, ‘A German can bloody well die!’ And so my 42-year-old sister died without even so much as a minimum of medical attention and was thrown into a pit outside the cemetery together with many other murdered Germans. My father wanted to at least buy a coffin, but that was forbidden. Similarly, the new Czech owners of my father’s drugstore would not even allow my mother to pick some flowers from the garden that had used to be ours, to take to my poor dead sister’s grave. – I would like to add that my sister had never been politically active in any way.”
The Russians as Life-Savers
rau Josefine Waimann left a large estate behind in Czechoslovakia. The scenes of horror that she witnessed in Masaryk Stadium in Prague are stamped indelibly on her memory.
Masaryk Stadium was an inferno.
“Already in late April we fled from the Russians, to the Americans, in the direction of Pilsen,” reports Frau Waimann, who today lives in Klagenfurt. “But the Americans handed us over to the Russians by the thousands, and the Russians then directed our refugee columns towards Prague.
“But the Soviets did protect us from the attacks of the Czechs. Without their escort we would have been beaten to death on the way, before we even reached Prague. In this respect the Russians made short work of the Czechs. In Königswiese near Prague I saw a Czech beating a German lieutenant. When the latter tried to defend himself, the Czech shot him. A Russian saw that, pulled out his pistol and gunned the Czech down without a word.
“Still under Russian guard, we were herded through the raging pandemonium of Prague, in whose streets horribly mutilated bodies of German privates hung from the street lamp posts everywhere, and on into Masaryk Stadium. There, we were caught up by the Czech murder machine.
“Words fail me to describe what took place in the first few days in that stadium, where by and by 40,000 Germans were crammed together, without water, almost entirely without food. Men, women, children and soldiers. My little children cried for hunger.
“Before our eyes there began a sadistic revenge against SS-men and ‘incriminated’ persons, who were tortured to death in every way imaginable. I most vividly remember a young pregnant woman; young Czechs in uniform slit her belly open, tore out the embryo and, howling with glee, stuffed a dachshund into the torn body of the woman, who was screaming horribly. We huddled in the grandstands. The butchering in the arena before our eyes was like that in ancient Rome.
“Constantly, groups of privates who had been discovered to be marked with the SS-rune were liquidated in the most horrible fashion, first they were flogged, then beaten with clubs, and finally shot. They were only ever shot after protracted torture. The screams of the agonized victims who were being skinned alive went right through us. And thousands of children had to watch all this. How many of them must have been psychologically traumatized for life! Among the doomed I saw many very young fellows, they could not yet have been 17 years old. They must have been just drafted. Now these poor boys were caught by the merciless torture of this murder machine. The bodies were dumped in deep trenches. Insofar as there was enough space, many were thrown into the latrines of the enormous stadium, and we had to relieve ourselves over the bodies – but it was only water and mucus anyhow.
“Added to the horrors of this camp were the dreadful screams that carried over to us from the city proper. A rash of suicides began, with people slitting their wrists. At night the Czechs let hundreds of drunk Russians into the stadium, probably for bribe money. They raped the German women right beside their children. It was truly hell, Masaryk Stadium was.
“However, after a few days this mass butchery came to be too much even for the Russians. A Soviet General intervened. He announced via loudspeakers that there was to be an end to all the raping. If his soldiers should come at night to get women, all of us should scream so the guards could hear us, he instructed. And that is what we did.
“At Whitsun 1945 I was separated from my husband and children and my nieces and nephews, who died in the stadium, and was deported to forced labor in Semcice. We had to work hard there, but the Czechs in the rural areas proved to be more humane than their urban brothers. German children died by the hundreds in a camp nearby. A Russian soldier from the Crimea plundered food from the farmers at submachine gunpoint and brought the provisions to us in his backpack until he was reported for his activities.
“And again I had a Russian to thank for saving my life, later on in Bunzlau, when a pack of Czech women beat me up. They might have beaten me to death if a Russian officer had not saved me. In this camp there was a priest from Linz, a true saint, who lifted us up and also helped us flee. In Schandau in the Eastern Zone we wept for joy at having escaped from hell. The inhabitants told us that the bodies of dead Germans floating down the Elbe River had been an everyday sight for weeks.”
Sudeten German Inferno
The hushed-up tragedy of the ethnic Germans in Czechoslovakia
Toddlers Buried Alive
e that hushes up a crime,” says engineer Helmut Gold of St. Georgen on the Längsee, “puts himself on the same level as the criminal and thus gives rise to the danger of repetition. A crime ever remains a crime, regardless whether it be the victor or the vanquished who committed it.
“I was a boy nine years of age when I came to know the hatred of the Czechs.
“I soon forgot the blows and kicks that I received in those days whenever I – a child identified as German by the ‘N’ (‘Nemec’ = ‘German’) on a white background, and later with a light-colored armband – encountered any Czechs… What I remember very well, however, is the constant fear that we children lived with, namely that the Czechs might kill our mother. Among my recollections of the Czechs’ cruelties there also remains the memory of their standard name for us: ‘Nemci Svinja’ (German swine). They left us nothing at all of our estate in Moravia. But we were lucky – we got off with our lives. How much more humane than this western Slavic people of the Czechs the Russians are, is shown by the fact that the Russian soldateska spared children, and mothers with many children. To protect herself from being raped by Russians, my mother would carry a toddler in her arms when she had to go outside. But the Czechs felt no stirrings of humanity at that sight either. Honek, the Czech General and parliamentarian of the First Republic, together with his daughter, reported in their publication Bloody Prague that in the first days of May 1945 several hundred German children and toddlers were locked into an underground room. The only exit was bricked up.
“Never in my life will I forget the sight of one dead child in the concentration camp in Moravian Weißkirchen (today called Chranice). We were locked up there with our mother before being transported off to Germany in cattle cars filled with 50 persons each.
“A young guard soldier had shot a toddler who had wandered near the barbed-wire fence. I will ever remember the sight of his grinning face as he continued to send burst after burst of submachine gun fire into the dead lump of flesh. The pathetic remains of what had been a child continued to jerk under the impact of the bullets that drove into the shredded body.
“In Brünn a district farmer was stripped naked, tied up with wire and locked into a cell together with some rats. He suffered for a whole week until death finally released him from his torment. It was said that the rats had chewed his belly open, and his intestines were hanging out.”
Frau E. Waller will never forget one tragic concentration camp fate: “Every day we were threatened that we would be shot. These threats suddenly ceased when we repeatedly begged them to really do it and release us from our martyrdom. One day it was announced that all Austrians should report for immediate release. Among them was a young woman, who reported immediately. She was beside herself with joy. When she had been driven from her home, her six-year-old daughter had been away, and the poor woman had worried and fretted about her child the entire time she had been in the camp. Her husband had fallen in the war, and so she had had more than her full share of troubles and we were only too happy for her release. However, some documents that she had to present were missing, since of course she didn’t have them with her, and so she was sent under guard to her home to fetch them. Unfortunately the guard found more than he had been looking for, namely various evidence that she had used to work as typist in a Wehrmacht office. From that point on her fate was sealed. The dream of release was over. What that poor soul had to endure from that day forth is simply indescribable. She had to clean dreadfully filthy latrines with her bare hands, without any tools or water; she was locked into a dark basement for days and nights on end; they smashed her head into the wall. Several weeks later, when we finally started off on our death march to the train station to be shipped off to Raudnitz, to the slave market, we tried to save her by keeping her, who could hardly even still walk, as much towards the middle of our group as possible. Someone had lent her a large sort of shawl so that she could disguise herself a bit. Nonetheless one of the henchmen recognized her, and she was beaten to death before our eyes.”
Theresienstadt: Living Corpses
n March 1979 the President of Austria placed a wreath in Theresienstadt in memory of the dead Jews. Did he also spare a thought for the Germans and Austrians who had been tortured to death there?
Very few survived the Theresienstadt camp of post-war days. Physician Dr. Emil Siegel reports: “Gassing failed to work for technical reasons, and so what remained for us was a slow torture-to-the-death. In the first weeks no-one was granted the mercy of a quick death. Already at the admission we were told that we would be slowly tortured to death. ‘No-one who comes here will get out alive.’ And that’s how it was. It was not until the Russians intervened that things got better.”
This physician is one of the few who survived that death camp. We shall not repeat all his descriptions of the gruesome torture here. But the following account of Dr. Siegel’s is representative for Theresienstadt.
When typhus broke out in the camp, he was sent to serve as doctor in the ‘sick cells’: “The ill were crowded so closely together that they could not lie on their backs, only on their sides. Among them were many who came from the last battles and who had only just been amputated; most of them were leg ie. upper-thigh amputees, some were also missing an arm. Almost all of them were young fellows aged 16 to 18 – allegedly SS-men. They lay on the bare concrete floor squeezed together like sardines, bumping into each other with their amputated stumps. The bandages were wholly soaked with pus, stank horribly and crawled with fly maggots. On some, the bandages had fallen off and the bare, pus-covered wound or bone stump showed. They begged to be bandaged, and I will never in my life forget their faces, lined with dreadful pain and endless despair, as they lay there squashed together on the floor and constantly bumped into each other’s wounds. These poor souls were the biggest joy of camp commandant Prusa and his accomplices, who reveled in their agony.
“In my role as doctor I was forbidden either to apply a bandage or to speak so much as one word to these young fellows. While checking their wounds I was restrained by the arm, and I was told that if I said even a single word to the amputees I would join them there on the floor. The martyrdom of these poor souls lasted several weeks. I saw them one more time – as dead bodies, showing evidence of having been beaten, especially on their amputated stumps. I don’t know whether they were beaten to death, or strangled ‘Theresienstadt-style’.
“Everyone in the typhus camp suffered from raging fever. In their stupor they would be forever leaving their pallet, they did not react to being spoken to, and in a very short time the entire room and the lavatory were smeared all over with diarrhea, as were the straw sacks that constituted the pallets, and the patients themselves as well. Added to this were the hordes of fleas and flies that came over from the mortuary opposite, where many corpses were often left lying around naked for days. There was no end to the bedbugs. Since there was nothing to drink the patients would totter out to the water toilets where they drank the water out of the toilet bowls.
“The commandant’s daughter, Sonja Prusova, was a sadist. I was told that she had personally helped to beat 28 people to death. She tore women’s hair out, beat them in the face or belly with her fists or feet, and flogged them; women who had suffered at her hands told me this themselves. I always knew, when I saw her running to Yard 4 with glowing eyes and greedy mouth, that now there were more people being tortured, and that blood would flow again.”
“Murder Factory” Theresienstadt
nurse who later died told Dr. Emil Siegel in the camp: “During the registration process I was beaten to the point where they knocked out one of my teeth. The wife of an SS-man was beaten together with me. I was taken away, and the SS wife was shoved rear-down onto an SS dagger. I heard her scream dreadfully as the sharp knife cut into her intestines.
“In my cell I had to strip naked in front of everyone, and was beaten again. Since I was covered all over with blood, I was given some water to wash up. Naked as I was, I had to stand on a flag all night long. The next day we were given prison clothing.
“Every day for four weeks I received 25 blows with a truncheon, cane, strap or whatever else the guard happened to get his hands on. He was a very young fellow, and he constantly tried to rape me; but because I desperately fought him off, I would always end up being flogged by him instead, until I collapsed unconscious. After these four horrible weeks I was put into a group of SS men (I was the only woman among them) and put to corpse-carrying duty. They were the bodies of typhus victims.
“I was beaten during this work, and also had to watch how SS-men were beaten until they died. Whenever I passed out from the stench of the dead bodies, a bucket of water would be poured over me, and I had to dig on. In this way I repeatedly fell into one of the mass graves, onto the bodies. On one of my feet I had a wound that became badly inflamed. They gave me a shoe, and I had to dig on. With bare hands and no protection whatsoever we had to dig these bodies out and place each into a coffin. It is beyond me how the body toxins didn’t kill us.”
Eduard Fritsch reports about Theresienstadt: “One day, I and some others were ordered to clean up the single-cells where the bodies of those lay who had been beaten to death. Clotted blood was layered several centimeters deep on the floor; cut-off ears, knocked-out teeth, chunks of skin, hair, dentures and the like lay everywhere. The stench of the blood etc. soon made it impossible for us to continue washing the cells and hallways. After two or three days many of us developed terrible swellings on our back, neck, head and arms. I was ordered to report to the sick-ward, where I saw something terrifying: patients were stripped to the skin and laid on a stretcher and the doctor then injected them with a fast-acting poison. These people died within one minute.”
Eduard Kaltofen recounts: “One day another 100 Germans were brought to the camp. First they were plundered of all their possessions (wedding rings, watches, money), and the guards descended on these things like a wild horde. Among these 100 people was a leg-amputee with crutches, a war invalid. He was beaten with his crutches until he lay dead. Some days later all inmates had to line up behind the barracks. 100 feet away from our spot there was a sand pit. Four Germans had to place their coffins at the ready there, then the first two were killed via a bullet in the neck, and then the others as well. At first we had to watch. In this way hundreds of German men were murdered by being shot in the neck. Every night we heard the shots from that sand pit. There was no end to the transport of bodies out of the camp.”
Cucumber Salad With Glass Shards
ne terrible aspect of Theresienstadt is the constant starvation. The battle for a spoonful of watery soup grows more and more embittered. Racked by hunger, an inmate one day attempts to sneak an extra scoop of the bland liquid into his bowl.
“The overseer sees him do it. He proceeds to force the prisoner to gulp down the lukewarm dishwater in such quantities that the soup runs back out of his mouth. The prisoner dies that same evening. The excessive quantity of liquid has burst his insides.
“Another inmate steals his fellow-prisoner’s daily ration of bread. That very same evening the thief is ordered to dinner by the yard commandant. There are fried potatoes with cucumber salad and glass splinters; asparagus with potatoes and minced coal; followed by a dessert containing cobbler’s nails – all of it in incredible quantities. The inmate has to eat it all. He too is a dead man later that same evening.
“The cases of famine oedema increase alarmingly. In August 1945 the mass graves dating from the German concentration camp days are discovered. We criminals from the single-cells are drawn on to make up the infamous corpse-commando. The bodies in the graves are covered with chloride of lime, black and rotting. A choking gas, a mixture of chloride of lime and decomposition gases, rises acridly from the pits that have been uncovered. Driven on with whippings and kicks, we have to retrieve the bodies from the depths with our bare hands. We lift them up carefully so that they will not burst and let the decomposed insides run out. The press is there en masse. Movie cameras whir. The entire thing is turned into a large-scale propaganda project. In the bright late-summer sun the bodies are lined up on the ground. In the evening, we inmates are forced to kiss the rows of corpses. Many subsequently die from the body toxins.
“Eventually, towards midnight, the group of guards on duty – they are drunken fellows aged 19 to 25 – make their nightly rounds to the single-cells. It is an unspoken rule that an inmate is to be whipped to death with a wire whip on these occasions. For the Czech guards this is perhaps no more than a lark to pass the time, but for the victim it is painful torture indeed. Sometimes it lasts half an hour, sometimes longer. During this time the entire single-cell block rings with the desperate screams of the tortured, with the angry barking of the dogs excited by the commotion and the smell of warm blood, with the whistling crack of the blows raining down on the inmate’s body, and finally we hear the victim’s death rattle, growing ever fainter.
“SS truck driver Matz is among the beaten every day and every night. But they don’t beat him to death – they want to force confessions from him instead. And one day they have worn him down. He makes the confessions that his tormentors want. They beat more than a hundred confessions of having murdered Czechs out of him. He had not actually participated in even one of them. Every night I hear him groaning. The concrete floor is so hard, and poor Metz doesn’t know which way best to lie on it. Flesh hangs off his back in shreds, and his sides are raw from the floggings. He is covered all over with bloody marks from blows and kicks. One morning, after a terrible night, one of his eyes is burst and drained, and the other so badly swollen that he cannot see with it.
“One of the many open wounds on his body gives rise to blood poisoning. Sepsis sets in. One morning one of his thighs is puffed up to the size of an elephant’s leg. The rest of his body is as thin as an eight-year-old’s. On their nightly visit, his tormentors discover his deformed leg. They force him to do one-hundred squats. His tortured agonized body cannot manage even one. The guards shake with laughter. Then they beat and kick him, that he flies around in his cell like some coffee bean in the grinder. Two days later, Matz is dead. One of countless many.”
Condemned German prisoners in the Theresienstadt concentration camp.
Sudeten German Inferno
The hushed-up tragedy of the ethnic Germans in Czechoslovakia
Line Up to be Shot
einz Lapczyna of Moravian Ostrau testified about Czech interrogation methods: “To extort confessions, the prisoner would be stabbed under his finger and toe nails with red-hot needles until he fainted from the pain.
“Then the people were ‘revived’ with clubbings and other kinds of abuse. Another method of extorting confessions was to beat the victim on the bare soles of his feet until the area between toes and heel was nothing more than a gaping wound. To torture the victim a bit more, he would then be forced to kneel for a few days, until he too fell over unconscious. The prison warder’s daily greeting was, ‘has no German swine croaked yet?’
“Dreadful atrocities took place in the Hanke camp in Moravian Ostrau. Groups of 20 people were crammed into a tiny room and forced to sing Fascist songs, after which they were beaten to death with fence slats, and the rest were hanged. At the Czech guards’ daily drinking bouts the young women and girls had to serve, buck-naked, and were abused and raped. The older ones were beaten to death.
“The Hodolein camp was no better. Every day inmates were beaten to death. Everyone had to constantly fear for their life. For example, the Silesian engineer Keite – or a similar name – from Schweidnitz was hanged for daring to defend himself against the usual abuse. He walked to the gallows apathetically, his head battered and swollen black. Afterwards the body was left to dangle in the yard for days, and the Czech cloth merchant Hunka and another man had to kneel before the body, later on some Germans too. The Germans all had to assemble in the yard and call, ‘We thank our Führer!'”
Executions in the camps were generally carried out in front of all the inmates. Dr. Kurt Schmidt recalls a scene in Pribans near Prague:
“One day six young boys were beaten until they could no longer get up, then doused with water (which the Germans had to fetch) and beaten on until there was no sign of life left in them. Their terribly mauled corpses were put on display for days, next to the latrines. One 14-year-old boy and his parents were shot because the boy had allegedly taken a stab at one of the Red Guardsmen with a pair of scissors.”
Another scene of arbitrary execution from the camp Totzau:
“A Czech commissar went through the rows of German men and randomly picked some until he had the number he wanted – 20 – the ones he chose were all tall, blond men and boys. First they were stripped of their shoes and boots and made to endure the worst kind of abuse under a hail of blows from whips, rifle butts etc. One 17-year-old boy collapsed unconscious. He was brought back to life with a bucket of cold water. By his hands he was yanked up off the ground. After these people had been tortured for about two hours, the commandant ordered them to line up in rows of two. And only now, before our eyes, they were mowed down with submachine gun fire.”
Adam Ehrenhard reports about a blood bath in Nachod: “On July 25, 1945, some 200 members of the SS were taken to the brewery in Nachod and put at the civilians’ disposal, to be abused. I myself witnessed how all 200 of them were brutally butchered by the civilians. Czech women, whom I know by name, distinguished themselves with particular brutality. They stabbed the SS-men with knives and daggers, beat them with clubs and rifle butts, and bodies that still showed signs of life were doused with gasoline and set on fire.
“I had to help load the bodies onto trucks and bury them in three mass graves on the Nachod castle grounds.”
Hydrochloric Acid on Sore Bodies
he proportion of women who lost their lives in the outbursts of sadism is great. Thousands of staff assistants, Blitzmädchen, nurses and housewives were plunged into the abysses of horror. Particularly in Prague.
Homecomer Walter Lohmann, an amputee missing an arm, was part of a burial commando in Prague from May 12 to 15: “I saw thousands of corpses, including boys and girls and many women. I saw bodies that had been horribly wounded and maimed. Later I heard that many grossly battered people, still living, were corroded with hydrochloric acid.”
Many women were forced to watch atrocities; Marianne Klaus reports:
“On May 9, 1945, my husband Gotthard Klaus, aged 66, was beaten to death in the police headquarters in Prague. I saw him for the last time on May 10 at 4:00 o’clock in the morning. He had fist-sized swellings on his face, his nose and mouth were one bloody mass, and his hands were swollen huge. I also saw two SS-men being whipped in the face until they collapsed, covered in blood, after which they were kicked in the stomach until blood streamed out, and then they were dragged by their feet down a flight of stairs. I saw one Wehrmacht assistant girl being stoned until she collapsed, and then she was hung from a store beam. On the Day of Revolution I saw an SS-man hung by one foot from a streetlamp post, burning from the head upwards.”
Helene Bugner remembers:
“On May 9 I was taken to tear down barricades in the streets of Prague. My labor group consisted of 20 women. We had to kneel down, and then our hair was chopped off with bayonets. We were stripped of shoes and stockings so that we had to go barefoot. At every step we took, with every move we made, we were beaten dreadfully with boards, truncheons etc. Whenever a woman fell down, she was kicked, rolled in excrement or stoned until she was dead. I passed out several times myself, but I was doused with water and had to walk on. Once when I collapsed I felt a dreadful kick in my left side which broke two of my ribs. During one of my faints someone cut a piece of flesh, about a square inch, out of the sole of one of my feet. These abuses went on for the entire afternoon. Among my group there were some highly pregnant women and nursing mothers, and they were abused just as badly.”
Human language will never suffice to express adequately what the women suffered in the inferno of those days. They were fair game in all the concentration camps. Anyone could come and pick whomever they liked, and if children screamed for their mothers they were silenced by force. The Czechs, but the Russians too of course, often did not even bother to lead the women off, but raped them in the midst of the children and in front of all the camp inmates. There is no sex crime, no matter how perverted, that was not done to them.
On the whole, it was common practice everywhere that any Czech or Russian might “borrow” a German slave. The victim had to stay several days, sometimes as long as eight, and was raped up to 15 times per night. Most of these women were later diagnosed with venereal diseases. The Russians had brought the terrible Siberian gonorrhea with them. The infected women begged in vain for medication. No German could hope for medical treatment – neither women nor men, nor even children.
Unspeakable, unutterable, unfathomable was the suffering of the mothers who had to watch their children starve in the camp, or of those who were torn from their children, to be tortured and then murdered. Devastating in the extreme was the fate of pregnant women who were caught in the vortex of hate. Just one example; Ernst Schorz of Moravian Ostrau recalls the last words of his dying friend Ernst Krischka: his wife, then eight months pregnant and imprisoned in the Hanke camp, had been forced to stand naked against a wall and was clubbed on the belly until the foetus aborted and she died herself. Krischka, who had spent a long time in the Hanke camp, also told his friend how he had witnessed a woman being hog-tied and hoisted up the wall, and then both her breasts were sliced off with a knife. She was not the only one to die that way.
The documentation Documents on the Expulsion of the Sudeten Germans, while having decidedly positive things to say about the conduct of the Russians, shows the Czech Catholic clergy in a proportionately negative light. There were local priests who forbade the Germans to attend church and refused to bless the German dead, who were dumped into a shallow pit in some obscure corner, etc….
Ears Cut Off, Tongue Torn Out
ean Johann Peschka of Oberlipka describes the events in the provincial towns. It was the usual: hours- and days-long torture, followed by execution.
On May 22, 1945 at 7:00 a.m., the Dean reports, busloads of armed partisans arrived and searched the houses. “All the men were lined up in the city square, ordered ‘hands up!’, and led off to the provincial administrative headquarters. A Czech committee set the number of blows each was to receive – from 50 to 200 blows with steel canes and whips. Many went half-mad with the pain, and took hours to crawl home covered in blood. Youth Leader Adolf Pospischil and the young soldier Ernst Pabel of Niederlipka, who had been apprehended in the street, were beaten to death. While blessing the bodies I lifted the canvas off them – their heads and upper bodies had been beaten to a bloody pulp.” The Dean then proceeded to list the names of the citizens who had been beaten to death.
The teacher’s wife – he continues – had to sing the German national anthem while digging her own grave. The partisans, who were drunk, took poor aim and the woman was hit in the abdomen; still living, she fell into the pit. She was put out of her misery with bullets from above her grave. Many of those who had been forced to watch fainted.
The execution had been preceded by a body-search of the people forced to act as spectators, and they were robbed of all watches and any jewelry they happened to wear.
All the Germans were interned in the school yard. On returning from their daily forced labor, they were led off for “evening gymnastics”, a euphemism for torture. We would hear the screams of the agonized victims, of whom almost every day one was beaten to death, until one day a Russian Major watched the goings-on from one of the school windows, and put a stop to these “evening gymnastics”.
In Eichstädt, the Dean recounts, 12 people were hanged from the linden trees beside the church, but not until after horrible tortures. Among the victims was the teacher Pischel, the mayor, community leader Hentschel, and master carpenter Safar, for having adopted a German name. Teacher Pischel’s mustache was burned off, his eyes and nose were cut off and his tongue torn out. In Bohemian Petersdorf about 15 people were also tortured to death.
Eight farmers, the Dean reports, were shot in Lipka. According to statements of their neighbors, they were stripped naked, tied up, and beaten so dreadfully that their screams could be heard from afar. Then they were shot. Shoemaker Winkler and his wife had already escaped across the border, but returned at night to get some clothes. They were seized and tortured terribly; their screams were blood-curdling. Then they were marched off to Grulich, where they were locked for eight days into the basement of the print-shop Schiller and again gruesomely abused. Inhabitants of Grulich whom they met saw their blood-shot eyes, swollen faces and half-mad looks. Afterwards they were shot outside the cemetery, together with foreman bricklayer Berthold Seifert and the peasant leader Fichard Hentschel. The entire village – eight-year-old children and up – had to watch this execution with hands raised.
In Javoricka the partisans rounded up the German inhabitants of the surrounding area, and crowded them into the forester’s lodge and the Bussau castle, where they were murdered. The children were driven into the basements of the tenant houses there, and shot in those rooms. Over these children’s bodies the murderers dumped the jam they found in the pantries there.
Homecomers, the Dean reports, were simply gunned down by the Czechs, and buried in the fields or the forest. “Two soldiers from Austria came to see me around noon one day in May 1945. I urged them to travel only at night, and to stay in hiding during the day. They probably did not take my advice. By the time I went to bless some dead at the cemetery that evening, they had already been stood against the cemetery wall and shot.”
hile the expulsion was already in full swing, the killing continued in the camps. A publication put out by President Benes’s party in summer 1945 stated: There are no good Germans, there are only bad ones, and worse. A Czech father who fails to raise his children to hate the Germans is not only a bad patriot, he is also a bad father… This hatred extended also to the German anti-Fascists.
In the documentation Documents on the Expulsion of the Sudeten Germans, Herbert Schernstein of Aussig says, for example, that “the Czechs exceeded by far the concentration camp methods of the Nazis, with which I had become more than familiar enough.”
The Socialist Sudeten Germans were, of course, also given no consideration. Following his deportation, Johann Partsch of Freudenthal testified how even left-wing radicals from the “German Revolutionary Guard” were treated:
“On June 24, 1945 we were arrested in Engelsberg by the ‘German Revolutionary Guard’, taken to the camp, and beaten there day and night by the Czechs. The beatings were repeated every half-hour six or seven times each night. All of us were disfigured beyond recognition.
“The worst day was July 4, 1945. That day the beatings already began early in the morning. Then 25 inmates had to dig a hole. They were constantly beaten while digging. All of us had to gather around the pit. Then 20 men were brought half-undressed from the barracks. Ten of them had to kneel at the pit. Ten Czechs with submachine guns shot them and threw them into the pit. Then the second group of ten followed, and thus it continued. Among those who were shot, I recognized the Engelsberg teacher Hermann Just, a very left-wing Social Democrat; radio expert Fochler of Freudenthal, an anti-Fascist who had been a member of the ‘German Revolutionary Guard’; and the farmer Zimmermann of Dürrseifen, who had been in a German concentration camp. The grave digger Gustav Riedl had been in the first group, but he had only been grazed. After three minutes he stood up in the pit and begged for another bullet. A Czech fired his submachine gun at him again. But Riedl just could not die. Another few minutes later he stood up again in the pit. They shot at him again and this time he was dead. Incidentally, in that camp I also met the people from the ‘German Revolutionary Guard’ who had arrested me.”
In this explosion of insanity, killing became a matter of whim. Sometimes in the Adelsdorf camp every sixth man in a line-up was shot, for no reason, with no regard to who he was, and regardless of his “crime”. It was simply a desire to kill.
The guards indulged in horrible kinds of “fun”. A physician who was interned in this forest camp had turned into one huge festering wound; it literally covered him from head to foot. To move, he had to crawl painfully on the ground, as he had not been able to walk any more for a long time. Others were forced to lick out his pus-filled wounds. Inmates were forced to eat excrement and had to lick each other’s genitals. One night a number of the poor souls in this camp hung themselves from the beams in the barracks; they could simply no longer take the physical and mental torture.
Excrement-covered gags were popular among the Czechs. Dr. Karl Gregor: “Whenever I screamed or groaned when they beat me, they would shove a gag covered with human excrement into my mouth.”
After being himself horribly tortured, Otto Patek witnessed the following in the Joachimsthal camp:
“In the night of June 5-6, 1945, around 10:00 p.m., eleven or twelve Czechs came to us in the dance hall. They brought a bench, and blankets with which the windows were covered up. As their first victim they grabbed the master watchmaker Johann Müller of St. Joachimsthal, laid him on the bench, cut his ears off with a knife, stabbed his eyes out, shoved a bayonet into his mouth, broke out his teeth, and broke his bones by smashing his arms over his knees and his legs over the bench. Since he still lived, they wrapped cable wire twice around his throat and dragged him around the hall until his neck had pulled out and the body showed no more signs of life. During this dragging-around a Czech stood on the body to weight it down. The body was reduced to a lump of flesh, and was wrapped in my coat and laid in the middle of the hall. In this manner six more were murdered that night, three of them Reich-German soldiers. Whenever another one was dead, we were again beaten with rubber truncheons.
“The Germans murdered in this way screamed horribly, as they were being killed fully conscious. Three inmates who had to watch this went insane. I myself suffered a nervous breakdown.”
Shot in the Neck –
Survived Thanks to Urine Cure
ather Reichenberger has mentioned, among other things, the case of a Sudeten German who had emigrated to France, joined the war on the French side in 1939, and for this reason was interned by the Germans in 1940 in the concentration camps Schirmeck (Alsace) and Kisslau. He was initially able to move freely around Prague in 1945. Here is his account.
“Many women had their babies torn from their arms, and saw their heads smashed against the wall. Women, children and men alike were hung from their feet, reels of film were lit beneath them, the people were burned alive. Others had ropes wrapped around their necks and then were tied to cars and throttled and dragged to death. Others in turn were stoned and beaten to death. The hunt was not for Nazis, just for Germans.
“At that time I also saw the Nusler School. The basement rooms were virtually flooded with blood, and on several bodies I found bullet holes in the neck. I myself was arrested in Prague District XII on May 11.
“At the police headquarters people were being shot on a continual basis. Individual men were called out of the cells and shot down in the yard, under police supervision, until a higher-up police official turned up and roared an order to the effect that all this murdering would have to cease.
“In the prison I met Lieutenant Colonel Fuhrmann, who at one time had intervened to save a Czech family from having to go to a German concentration camp. Among the inmates there was also one engineer Schenk, whom the German Special Court in Prague had sentenced in 1939 to ten years’ imprisonment and complete expropriation because he had secretly employed two Jews in his business. This Herr Schenk had spent the entire six years until his release in a large concentration camp in Germany. After being liberated by the Americans he returned to his home city, Prague, reported to the police station to register as returnee, and was arrested on the spot. I heard that he later died.
“In the prison I was together with a German soldier who had been shot in the neck. The bullet had entered the neck, exited through the mouth and smashed his entire lower jaw. Since he was still alive, he was thrown into a cell and the well-known Prague surgeon Dr. Rösler managed to save his life by washing out his wounds several times a day with urine and his handkerchief, and spoon-feeding him the thin soup he was given.”
Sudeten German Inferno
The hushed-up tragedy of the ethnic Germans in Czechoslovakia
Amnesty For All Crimes
he book Documents on the Expulsion of the Sudeten Germans is an avalanche of horror under which a reader can almost suffocate. It takes a real effort of will to read the reports of the people who survived this time of horror. Yet these reports that were collected after 1945 are actually rather subdued, compared to their reality – not only because language simply has no means to adequately reflect the bestiality of the Czechs and the torment they inflicted on their victims.
Two factors become apparent in an overall examination of these events:
1. The orgy of murder seemed to break out spontaneously, but it had been planned – not in its extent and degree of perversion, perhaps, but certainly in principle. The expulsion had been planned by Benes as early as 1942. Wenzel Jaksch, the Sudeten German Socialist leader, knew it and for that reason distanced himself from Benes in exile.
When the German defeat had become inevitable, Benes, in his radio address to the Czech people, already publicly announced the liquidation of the Germans in Czechoslovakia. As of May 5, radio broadcasts incessantly urged the Czech population to kill and plunder.
And the Czech people took this urging very seriously indeed.
2. And that is the second factor to consider in assessing these events: the participation of the widest conceivable circles of the Czech population in these mass crimes. All the survivor reports show this clearly.
The Benes Decrees provided a “legal foundation” for the genocide. Any and all crimes against Germans were sanctioned. The amnesty decree stated:
An act intended as vengeance for the actions of the occupiers and their accomplices is not unlawful, even if under other circumstances it would be a crime as per legal regulations.
So anything and everything was permissible to do to the Germans. They were less than animals for slaughter. The “green light” for the mass murder was followed by other decrees ordering the confiscation of any and all German and Magyar property, whether movable or not. This was applied to such an extent that the people remaining on their farms almost starved to death because they were not permitted even to dig the potatoes they themselves had planted.
SS-man being led to his execution.
In the towns and villages the mass torture and executions died away in June 1945, but in the concentration camps they continued even in 1946. The worst devils in human form were the usually very young “soldiers” of the Revolutionary Guard organized by Ludvik Svoboda, who later became president of Czechoslovakia. Communists and Czech National Socialists competed in inventing ever more and new torture methods.
One year after the armistice, the murdering still raged on. The Documents on the Expulsion of the Sudeten Germans reports numerous cases where mass executions in the camps still took place even in 1946. At that time, however, they were no longer being carried out before the public eye.
While it is repeatedly mentioned that the Russians often curbed the Czechs’ bestial frenzy, there are few accounts of “good deeds” by the Americans.
Frau Eleonore Hochberger of Kosolup near Pilsen reports that the Czech Revolutionary Guardsmen had behaved in a relatively restrained manner at first. It was not until they realized that they need not worry about interference from the Americans – that they might do with the Sudeten Germans as they wished – that the torture and murder began in the American-occupied parts of Czechoslovakia as well. Frau Hochberger, whose husband was tortured to death in the prison Bory, tells of her desperate attempts to obtain help from the American commandant. He did not even consent to hear her. His interpreter, however, informed her frostily: “We Americans haven’t come to help the Germans, we came to liberate the Czechs from you. We don’t care a fig what they do to you.”
The American officials and officers were aware of the massacres, and in many cases reacted cynically: don’t blame the murderer, blame the victim.
In the publication Tragedy of a People that appeared in New York in 1946, Captain Mike Short wrote: “It is terrible here in the Sudetenland. The Czech cruelties are beyond all measure. We are not permitted to intervene in any way, we are even ordered from higher-up to tolerate anything and everything the Czechs do.”
Admittedly, the atrocities in the American-occupied regions never reached the same scale as they did elsewhere in Czechoslovakia, and there are exceptions where even Americans stepped in to curb the Czech monstrosities.
The Cruel Order Came at Night
lease take a look around your home, the home which you have created with love and care. It is your world. Now imagine that a satanic order forces you to leave this paradise within ten or 15 minutes. Only with hand-luggage. No more than that! Jewelry and valuables are to be turned over to the robbers. You and your children must leave as beggars, never to return.
This unspeakably awful fate struck three million Sudeten Germans, and a total of 15 million Germans. And hardly anyone ever so much as mentions it.
The specific instructions for the expulsion varied from case to case, but the inhuman psychological cruelty was uniform. The following are some examples of the expulsion orders.
On June 14, 1945 at 10:00 p.m., after curfew for the Germans, the following order from the military commandant was announced in Bohemian Leipa, in the German and Czech languages. The sleeping populace naturally did not learn of it until the morning of June 15.
The order stated: “In the city communities of Bohemian Leipa, Alt-Leipa and Niemes, all inhabitants of German ethnicity and with no regard to age or sex are to leave their homes at 5:00 a.m. on June 15, 1945 and to march through the Kreuzgasse and Bräuhausgasse [streets] to the gathering point by the brewery in Ceske Lipe.
“Every individual to whom this expulsion order applies may take: a) food for seven days, and b) the barest necessities for personal use, in a quantity which he or she can personally carry.
“Valuables such as gold, silver and all objects made of these materials (rings, brooches etc.), gold and silver coins, bank books, insurance policies, cash with the exception of 100 RM per person, as well as cameras, are to be placed into a bag or wrapped in a paper parcel, accompanied by an exact written inventory listing of the contents.”
And here comes the threat: “I stress that every person will be closely body-searched. The contents of any luggage will also be closely examined. Any attempt to hide objects of the aforementioned nature on one’s person, whether in clothing or in shoes, or elsewhere such as in hand-luggage, is futile and will be punished by death.”
And indeed, men, women and children were searched down to their bare skin. These inspections often lasted days and nights on end.
The order saw to everything: pets shall remain where they are, the order continues, and a list of the animals is to be included with the identifying address and house keys that must be handed in at the gathering point.
And then, the main point for the state that lusted after the expellees’ wealth: non-movable property and assets, such as machinery, agricultural equipment and tools, are to remain where they are. Any damage inflicted intentionally on such property or assets will be severely punished. Similarly, any transfer of the items mentioned to other persons for purposes of safe-keeping will be punished.
The expulsion order of Kraslice, for example, stated: Persons who are to be transported shall leave their homes in perfect order. Permitted: hand-luggage of at most 10 kilograms. All remaining items are to be left in their proper places in the home. The luggage may not be bundled in carpets or slipcovers.
The order then announced inspections, and severe penalties. As a particular nicety for the expelled housewives, the order stipulated that beds were to be left with freshly changed sheets to welcome the robbers.
The Flood of Degeneracy
t will never be possible to describe fully what happened in the course of this sadistic dance of death in Czechoslovakia, for added to these events that exceed the bounds of all human measure there is the “dilution effect” of an inadequate frame of reference.
When a brute commits murder with a knife or gun, his action can be expressed and fully exposed in the spotlight of public attention. However, a monster in human form that tortures and kills so cruelly that even to write about it curdles the ink in one’s pen – the details of such a person’s deeds remain in semi-dark. The real extent of his crime can never be illumined because it is simply inconceivable to imagine it in anything but a watered-down form.
To date, Czech history has profited from this “dilution effect”.
This book has dispensed with emotionalism in its accounts, and deliberately retained the simple, almost monotonous wording of the witness statements and transcripts. After all, who could possibly describe realistically the screaming of tortured people, or what battered lumps of flesh must have felt as they had to dig their own graves before the submachine guns of their murderers? One’s breath catches at the thought of the agony of the mothers whose children were nailed to poster boards in Prague.
But the horror need not even be bloody. What kind of degenerate humanity is it that “fed” the German wounded from buckets full of human excrement before beating them to death – as happened in Wilson Train Station in Prague?
All this is so unspeakably gruesome – but is it right that this flood of degeneracy and cruelty should be graciously covered up with the mantle of silence because the crime is too terrible to be faced?
And what this book describes is only a drop in the ocean of death and agony and perverted madness!
The bottom line is that, in that year of the “Final Solution” in Czechoslovakia, 241,000 Sudeten Germans died a violent death or succumbed to starvation-induced typhus. There is hardly a Sudeten German family that has not lost at least one relative to these events. The number of murdered Blitzmädchen, nurses, and Wehrmacht members (wounded or not) who fell into the hands of the Czech murderers will never be precisely known. 200,000 is a conservative estimate.
The books of Father Emanuel Reichenberger – especially Europa in Trümmern, which already appeared in the first post-War years, published by Stocker-Verlag – reveal a kaleidoscope of horror. Father Reichenberger, whom the National Socialists had forced to emigrate to the United States, became the expellees’ foremost spokesman. The famous Sudeten German author Bruno Brehm wrote of this emigrant who tried to make the victors’ world face their post-War crimes: “He began to shout into the world’s ears, which it covered with both hands, for though it had listened so eagerly for atrocities committed by the Germans, it now cared not to hear about the heinous atrocities committed against them.”
Bruno Brehm wrote these words in 1953! Almost half a century later, little has changed.
The mass media remain silent. The “White Book” compiled under the Adenauer Administration and documenting the crimes in Poland, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia has been placed under lock and key by our current Socialist government at Bonn. Its publication is prohibited!
The Austrian Federal President traveled to Prague, and one Austrian newspaper lauded him as “courageous President”. What for? Because he had visited the Archbishop? Does that take courage? The expellees might justly have expected some other sign of courage from him. But such a sign has not yet come – neither from Vienna nor from Bonn.
The Ominous “Yes” to Genocide
ow is it possible that the world judges mass outbreaks of man’s inhumanity to man by such divergent standards? How is it that Germany’s own citizens are horrified only by Auschwitz but not by Aussig, or that the Federal President visiting Theresienstadt remembers only the victims of the Nazis, but not (or at least not visibly) the Sudeten Germans tortured to death there?
The incomprehensible already begins with the eerie alliance between Western Democracy and Bolshevism. Regarding their cooperation in the expulsion and butchery of 18 million Germans, Father Reichenberger observed: no democrat was bothered by the concurrence with Stalin’s bloody dictatorship and no Christian by the collaboration with the Antichrist. Roosevelt strove to gain Stalin’s unreserved trust. Father Reichenberger had already realized the reason for this during his exile in London, and later in the United States. As Brehm wrote: Reichenberger soon saw that in America very little if any distinction was made between Germans and National Socialists, and that it was the Germans as a whole whom one hated, the Germans as a whole whom one wanted to destroy, and the Germans as a whole whom one believed capable of all evil and on whom one wished all evil. This was the attitude that led to the fact that after 1945 Czechs who had participated in massacres of Germans could live with impunity in the American-occupied zone of Germany.
One infamous example is the case of the Czech Antonin Homolka. One of his recorded acts in the blood frenzy of May 1945 was that he had snatched a German mother’s baby out of its carriage, wedged the child head-down between his knees, grabbed hold of both legs and literally tore the baby’s body apart. In 1949 he was arrested in Stuttgart by German police, but the Americans ordered his release and transfer to an IRA-controlled migration camp.
In those days crimes committed by the Germans were all that mattered – the crimes committed against them mattered not.
Fine – but how is the situation today, 50 years later, in Bonn and Vienna? How is the state of affairs in our television and almost all mass media? Is their silence about what happened in 1945 a sign of collective paranoia? A fear of being accused of attempting to distract from Belsen and Auschwitz by telling the truth about Allied crimes? After all, it is the spirit of re-education that only Germans are ever to sit in the prisoner’s dock of history. That is why schoolchildren are only ever taught about the Holocaust and never about the Banat, never about Prague.
In fact, the gigantic post-War crime of the expulsion of 15 million people and the murder of almost 3 million Germans has been successfully prevented from seeping into our collective present-day awareness.
There are not a few contemporaries who try to see the barbaric butchering of the German men, women and children in Czechoslovakia as something like an understandable reaction of the Czechs to Lidice.
In Lidice 132 men were executed. There is no just or reasonable relationship, and no comparison at all, between the extent of this reprisal and that of the outbreak of insane chauvinism manifested by the Czechs.
Certainly, none of this would have happened without Hitler. But what kind of judges are they who are by far more cruel, bestial and inhuman than the accused?
Anyone who tries to hush up and justify the happenings in Czechoslovakia and in the East and Southeast in effect sanctions this genocide.
Sudeten German Inferno
The hushed-up tragedy of the ethnic Germans in Czechoslovakia
The Sudetenland: A Region of Decay
p until only a few years ago, the entire Czech population unanimously considered the expulsion of the Germans to have been inevitable and just. No public voice spoke up to the contrary, no intellectual condemned the theory of German collective guilt and the crimes of 1945.
33 years had to go by before even one lone voice spoke out, abroad, in December 1978. In the Czech publication Svedectvi (Paris) a Slovak political scientist published a remarkable essay that may be regarded as a first call for soul-searching – even though one swallow doesn’t yet make a summer, as the saying goes.
This publication revealed that in the early 1970s a domestic survey had been conducted about the expulsion. Its findings were kept strictly secret. Probably the survey had been prompted by the normalization of relations with the Federal Republic of Germany that had begun around that time.
In this survey, one-third of the persons polled had condemned the “transfer”. “Transfer” is the term used in Czechoslovakia today to gloss over the criminal uprooting of an entire people out of a centuries-old civilization.
One-third called the “transfer” a “superfluous, economically and morally harmful fact”. But publicly the topic is still strictly taboo in the Czechoslovakia of today.
The publication bluntly described the phase of mass liquidations and also criticized the hatred that led to such grotesque measures as changes in orthography: “German” and “Germany” had to be spelled without initial capitals. Hegel and Kant, Goethe and Schiller, Mozart and Beethoven were banned.
Sudeten German expellees.
From his critical observation of the events, the author concluded: in Czech society the forcible expulsion of the Germans resulted not only in the destruction of human, national and state values, but also in a corrosion of the sense for creation and maintenance of material assets, of which an immense amount went to rack and ruin on Czech national territory. Entire export branches of light industry (glass, porcelain, ceramics, jewelry, textiles etc.) that had been primarily based in Northern Bohemian borderlands disintegrated. Thousands of acres of arable land turned into wasteland – either the army had appropriated it, or it had been left unworked too long. Hundreds of towns and villages vanished, weeds and scrub took over the fields, the meadows turned acidic. Dead chimneys jutted out of crumbling factories. The borderlands grew desolate despite financial injections by the government.
The mass expulsion of the Germans of Czechoslovakia was a flagrant violation of a fundamental human right: the right to one’s homeland. If we today zealously proclaim support for human rights and fight to preserve them – the article stated – then we cannot take the right to one’s homeland as pertaining only to the present; it must be a postulate of primary importance in the historical, retrospective sense as well.
The Crime of Potsdam
n his book Europa in Trümmern, Father Reichenberger recalls that Hitler had also considered a resettlement of the Czechs. “But,” Reichenberger wrote, “Hitler had stated that the resettlement of seven million Czechs would take a century. The Humanists of Potsdam expelled twice that number in one year.” They had decreed that the resettlement should be carried out in an “orderly” and “humane” fashion. What a colossal mockery of those affected!
Details of the “humane” genocide did not remain unknown to the state chancelleries in London and Washington. In August 1945 Churchill said in the House of Commons, “a tragedy of immense proportions is playing out behind the Iron Curtain.” And as per the Times of November 5, 1945, England’s Foreign Minister Ernest Bevin commented in the House of Commons with regard to the effects of the Potsdam Pact of July 17, 1945: “Great God, it’s the height of human madness. It was a dreadful spectacle.”
There were American voices too in 1946. But none of the governments involved thought for even a moment to put a stop to the “dreadful spectacle”.
The expulsion revealed the fact that National Socialism was not the issue at all. The program of extermination was aimed at the Germans. It was not Nazis who were being resettled – it was everyone who happened to have been born of a German mother.
The decree of banishment inflicted by the democratic and Communist barbarians struck 2.3 million East Prussians, 0.6 million citizens of Danzig, 3.1 million Lower Silesians, 3.4 million Upper Silesians, 0.9 million from Brandenburg, 1 million Pomeranians, 0.3 million West Prussians, 1 million from Posen and 1 million from the Warthegau – a total of 13.6 million German people. Added to this were 3 million Sudeten Germans, and 1.5 million from Hungary, Yugoslavia and Romania. That makes more than 18 million Germans. More than 2.5 million of them lost their lives in the expulsion.
To truly get a sense of the extent of this Crime of Potsdam, it is necessary to see these figures in comparison to other countries. Austria has a population of 7 million; Denmark, Sweden and Norway together total about 15 million. Switzerland has 4.5 million inhabitants. Twice as many people as live in all of Austria were driven destitute from their homes.
It was fortunate for Europe that the beggared 15 million that were thrust into the sea of debris that was then Germany did not become a hearth of unrest, an explosive element such as the three million Palestinians became in more recent days. But the biological consequences of overpopulation do already cast dark shadows in the form of the rapid decline of the German birth rate.
In East and West alike, the subject of the expulsion is still a taboo. The Sudetenland is a wasteland. Czechoslovakia does feel the loss of the economic strength of three million inhabitants whose competence and unparalleled industriousness had ever been exemplary.
Countless Sudeten German voices have given a powerful echo to this publication. They had one central theme: a peaceable attitude, not a word of revenge. Certainly many of them are tired and resigned. But at the core of the Sudeten German people the will to preserve their ethnic substance beats strongly.
So does the demand for compensation.
This demand and the insistence on the right to one’s homeland will no doubt pass on to the next generation. “The homecoming of the expelled,” said Otto Habsburg, “is not only a postulate of common sense. It is also the prerequisite for a Christian renewal of our part of the world, for that practical application of the divine laws of justice in public and private life without which Communism can never be spiritually overcome.”
As the late Dr. Lodgman, the Sudeten Germans’ faithful Eckart, telegraphed Father Reichenberger, God’s champion of justice: “God lives yet, and His day will come.”
Our Nameless Dead Call Out To Us
hat now? The expulsion of the economically highly efficient Germans, coupled with 50 years of Socialism, has turned Czechoslovakia into a poorhouse. The Czechs will never be able to replace the material goods, worth many thousands of millions of dollars, which they robbed from the Germans. The murderers can no longer be apprehended. What the Germans can demand, however, is the right to their homeland. But even that demand earns them only hatred: “Not so much as a rock belongs to the Germans – German property must remain Czech!”, the headlines scream. A recent line is that the Germans ought to be grateful that they were expelled, since this saved them from the yoke of Communism. The expellees grew richer in the free world – thus, they ought to be grateful for their expulsion! Not a word is wasted on the sadistic mass murder of 241,000 Sudeten Germans, much less on the hundreds of thousands of German soldiers who, unarmed, fell to the Czechs’ hands and knives and submachine guns. Most young Czechs today do not even know about the orgy of sadism. For decades they have been taught in their schools that the Germans only arrived with Hitler, and left again in 1945. That the Germans had already settled the Sudetenland before America was even discovered is a fact that even some adults in Czechoslovakia do not know. The genocide has been hushed up perfectly.
Now that the struggle for a new order at the heart of Europe is beginning, the great and treacherous silence about the crimes of 1945 and 1919 must be broken at last. Europe is to become a Europe of regions. Why should there not be a German and a Czech region at the heart of Europe? Hundreds of thousands of dead, thrown like dogs into sorry excuses for graves, without a death certificate or even a cross, have a right to some last respects. The vast army of the nameless dead holding their admonitory vigil in the stolen soil of their native land calls out to us….
Sudeten German Inferno
The hushed-up tragedy of the ethnic Germans in Czechoslovakia
Comments on Contemporary History
he occupation of the Protectorate by Hitler was only one of many political upheavals on the territory of former Czechoslovakia (others were the independence of Slovakia, and thus the dissolution of the Czech multi-ethnic state), but none of these developments succeeded in obtaining the still-withheld minority rights of the five ethnic groups that had been forced into this state without any plebiscite after the First World War. Even Hitler’s severe warning in his “Sports Palace speech” of September 26, 1938, urging that the minorities living in that state must at long last be granted their right to self-determination, fell on deaf ears in the government at Prague.
In Professor Dr. Berthold Rubin’s book War Deutschland allein schuld? (Munich: DSZ-Verlag, 1987) we learn on page 153: “… and further, I have assured him [Chamberlain] that in the very instant when Czechoslovakia solves its problems – that is, when Czechoslovakia has dealt with its minorities, and peacefully so, not by oppression – in that instant I will lose all interest in the Czech state and we will guarantee its borders. We don’t want any Czechs, but we do want a full, satisfactory and final settlement of the minority question, no uneasy compromises, and absolutely no constant trouble spot at the heart of Europe!” (The last sentence is always studiously omitted by other publications!)
Ultimately, the victorious powers of World War I – the midwives to the Paris treaties – were the initiating force behind this hearth of unrest in Europe (compare today’s Yugoslavia!), together with the chauvinistic Czech nationalists who had had 20 years to solve the minority question in Czechoslovakia in a fashion satisfactory to all. But, idle and spineless, they wasted the time so precious to all concerned, and were not interested in a serious solution. With his well-known Eight Points, Konrad Henlein, the leader of Sudeten Germans, also attempted in vain to make the Czech government see reason at the Karlsbad Party Convention on April 24, 1938.
It should be our aim to make the facts of this ethnic martyrdom – hushed up for so long, but now beginning to break through into the light – known to the general public that is starved for truth. Cover-ups serve no-one! And truth is indivisible.
It is especially important that new editions and reprints of publications be revised to reflect historical documents that have only recently become known after having been locked away in archives for, in many cases, very long periods of time. This is the only way to do justice to history – and such revisions would be entirely unnecessary if uncomfortable facts had not been suppressed for decades in the first place.
Convention on International Law, Bonn, 1961
Excerpts from “Das Recht auf die Heimat
im historisch-politischen Prozeß”, F. H. E. W. du Buy.
Euskirchen: Verlag für zeitgenössische Dokumentation GmbH, 1974.
he debates about the questions regarding the right to one’s homeland were continued at the convention of experts on international law on October 28 and 29, 1961 in Bonn. The results of this convention were formulated as seven basic principles, as follows:
“I. In the recent past, and in various regions of the world, peoples and ethnic groups were expelled from their ancestral homes. These acts of violence are in clear violation of fundamental principles of modern national and international law.
“II. The expulsion of peoples or of ethnic and religious groups represents a flagrant violation of the right to self-determination. The right to self-determination has been recognized by the United Nations as a leading principle of order; by virtue of this fact, as well as through practical application by nations over the past decades, it has become a general and binding fundamental of international law. It is the right of peoples and population groups to freely determine their political, economic, social and cultural status. In this context, peoples are not to be regarded as fluctuating masses that may be pushed from one region to another for political, economic, police or other considerations, but as resident communities that are closely tied to their settlement area. Thus, the right to self-determination includes the prohibition of expulsions. Not even a conquered people may be denied the right to self-determination.
“III. The international conventions of war include the prohibition of deportation of the population of an occupied region by the occupying power. Complete agreement on this was already expressed at the 1907 Peace Conference in The Hague. Thus, Article 49 of the Geneva Convention of August 12, 1949 about the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War did not create a new law, but rather codified existing law.
“Attention is also drawn to Article 49, Section 6, according to which an occupying power may also not deport or resettle parts of its own civilian population into a region occupied by it.
“IV. Under modern international law, no state may deport its own citizens from its national territory, nor deny them entry into said national territory. This prohibition applies also in cases of changes in territorial sovereignty. In such a case, the resident population may not be denied citizenship in the acquiring state, insofar as it had previously also held native status. This protects the population from expulsion across the newly-fixed border.
“V. The question whether expelling nations and host nations may conduct population transfers in an internationally lawful manner through national treaties cannot be answered with mere reference to the Potsdam Pact. This Pact of August 2, 1945 – whose Article XIII ordered a humane carrying-out of the expulsion of the Germans from Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary that had in fact already begun at full scale several months earlier, under the sovereign responsibility of the expelling states – had been concluded by the occupying powers, namely Great Britain, the Soviet Union and the United States. The condition imposed therein on Germany, to accept the expelled Germans, thus does not represent an internationally lawful acknowledgment of the expulsion on the part of Germany, since Germany was not a party to this Pact.
“VI. Deportations within the boundaries of a national territory also violate the fundamentals of a modern system of government.
“International law demands that nations respect a minimum standard of human rights, and this standard is characterized by a progressive acceptance of universal human rights.
“In 1956-57 in the Soviet Union, for example, mass deportations of a state’s own citizens were ruled to be an inadmissible violation of constitutional rights and to be in conflict with the principles of Marxist-Leninist nationality politics, and were reversed for a part of the persons affected.
“The legal position following from the stated principles of national and international law for peoples, population groups and their members has come to be known as “the right to one’s homeland”. Thus, this right is founded on positive regulations of contemporary national and international law as well as on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Its violation is a crime under international law.
“Every prohibition – and thus also the prohibition of forced resettlement and mass deportations – safeguards a condition perceived by man’s sense of justice to be valuable and worth preserving. In the event of attempted unlawful interference with this condition, those who benefit from the preservation of said condition have the fundamental right to demand the cessation of such interference, or – if interference has been carried through – to seek redress. In the case at hand, such a right to redress takes the form of a right to permission to remigrate, and to assistance in doing so, or alternatively as a right to claim compensation. This coincides with the decisions of the standing International Court, as these have found expression especially in the Chozow case.”
At this convention it was determined that there are several principles of international law whose purpose it is to afford persons protection from forced resettlement and expulsion from their homeland. The term “right to one’s homeland” has come to stand for the legally protected right to remain in one’s domicile unmolested. This right to one’s homeland can thus be regarded as the collective term for several principles recognized by international law, and accordingly, the violation of this right represents a crime under international law.
The right to one’s homeland is intended to afford a person the right to remain in his domicile without undue harassment. If this right is infringed upon, he has a rightful claim to restitution, which may be understood as a right to restitutio in integrum, ie. in this case the right to return to one’s homeland. If a return to one’s old homeland is not possible, the injured party has the right to claim compensation.
Principle 5 makes reference to the Potsdam Pact of August 2, 1945. The substance of this Principle is legally perfect, but it would go beyond the scope of this study to examine the Pact in greater detail.
on International Law, Bonn, 1964
t the second convention of experts on international law, which was held on April 24 and 25, 1964, again in Bonn, the jurists debated further issues regarding the right to one’s homeland. As usual, the convention was closed by recording the conclusions reached in these debates. The voluminous and very carefully worded conclusions represent another decisive stage in the academic resolution of the problems associated with the right to one’s homeland. Due to their great significance, these conclusions are reproduced here in extenso:
I. 1.The condition constituting the foundation of the concept “right to one’s homeland”, a condition perceived by man’s sense of justice to be valuable and worth preserving, consists of everyone being able to reside unmolested at his domicile and within his social unit, with the certainty of being able to remain in such condition for as long as his will is freely directed thus.
In this context, terminology is defined as follows:
a) “domicile”: the place where a person regularly resides because the focus of his life and social structure is itself located there;
b) “social unit”: the people whose domicile is located within a specific spatial area (“homeland”) and who are linked to each other there through tradition and a multitude of social relations; […]
God Lives: His Day Will Come!
Ten Thousand Expellees Cheer Father Reichenberger
Reprint from the “Süd-Ost Tagespost”, Graz, June 10, 1952.
n Sunday the Graz Fairgrounds surrounding Industrial Hall were an unfamiliar sea of color. An observer felt transported into a great folk festival that might just as easily have taken place somewhere in the Sudetenland, in Transylvania, in Backa or in the Banat. Some ten thousand expellees, many wearing their neat and colorful ethnic costumes, had answered the call of the Steiermark “Auxiliary for the Sudeten Germans” to join together in a great summer festival to document their loyalty to their homeland, and to greet and thank the indefatigable champion of their rights, Dr. h.c. Father Reichenberger.
Monsignore Dr. E. J. Reichenberger,
Father of the Expelled
The faces lined by a harsh fate and a life of hard work lit up as Father Emanuel Reichenberger appeared in their midst, accompanied by Provincial Governor Krainer and Dr. Gorbach, President of the National Council, and a storm of applause greeted the Provincial Governor when he stepped up on the platform, decorated splendidly with the Steiermark flags and the coats-of-arms of the ethnic German Welfare and Cultural Associations, to address the expellees.
“Dear festival guests – or, I am sure I may say, dear fellow-countrymen! The war forged us all into a community united by suffering. You have been particularly hard-hit because you lost your homeland, but I believe I can say that you have found another home with us – a modest and poor one, perhaps, but a home nevertheless. Tens of thousands of Germans settled in the Steiermark, and my only wish is that you may feel at home here with us. I also appeal to all inhabitants of the Steiermark to do their part to ensure that everyone who comes to us in need will be made to feel at home, and that everyone do their best to help us all become an indivisible community in this land. Let us all take home with us, from this gathering dedicated to Father Reichenberger, the foremost champion of freedom and justice, the resolve to follow his example, so that after seven long years our land too shall finally become free, and true freedom and true justice shall return to us!”
The Students Still Have Ideals!
After a brief address, in which he stressed how the relations between the expellees and the local population were growing ever closer, Dr. Prexl, the provincial representative of the Auxiliary for the Sudeten Germans, presented elaborate certificates to Father Reichenberger and to Otto Hoffmann-Wellenhoff, the head of the cultural department of the Alpenland station, for their great services to the expelled. Walter Schleser, the Chair of the Expelled Students in Germany, conveyed to Father Reichenberger the congratulations of the Federal Committee of Expelled Students and the Welfare and Cultural Association of Expellees in West Germany.
In his address, Dr. Rudolf Lodgman von Auen – former Provincial Governor of German Bohemia, Member of the Vienna National Assembly, and Speaker of the Sudeten German Welfare and Cultural Assembly in Germany – recalled that on October 29, 1918 the Sudeten Germans had declared themselves a province of German Austria, but that this union was destroyed one year later, contrary to all common sense. He presented Father Reichenberger with a plaque, with the request that he would continue to bear the fate of the German expellees in heart and mind.
Dr. h.c. Emanuel Reichenberger himself then stepped on the podium, to the seemingly endless cheers and applause of the assembly. “Potsdam has legalized the robbery and theft that was perpetrated on you when Germany and Austria lay crushed and powerless – legalized it in violation of all divine and human right. For long years these crimes had to be hushed up so that the Allies of yesterday would not be insulted. Today no less, the expelled do not want hatred and revenge – it would pave the way, not for the furtherance of a new world, but for its downfall. All they seek is justice – and it is sheer demagoguery to try to slander this cry for justice as neo-Nazism or as expression of an unbridled hatred. The expellees do not demand special courts, they demand a verdict from impartial sources, they demand nothing more than that the solemn promises made in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights be kept. The enormous problems created by the expulsion of millions of people cannot be solved by Germany and Austria alone; the legal obligation to solve them is incumbent upon those who unleashed this injustice in the first place: the signatories of Potsdam.
Concerns About the Younger Generation
“I am concerned about the future if we do not succeed in involving the younger generation in building our new homeland. Young people, healthy and able to work, must join in the build-up process here. If I had a decisive say I would forbid the emigration of healthy and able people. Emigration is not a solution, and the conditions under which it occurs are often much like a sort of trafficking in human beings.”
Father Reichenberger concluded with the words: “God lives yet, and His day will come!”
Human Blood Dripped From the Knife of Hate
by Alexander Hoyer
n 1919, after the peace dictate of St. Germain which forcibly incorporated the German regions of Bohemia, Moravia and Austrian Silesia into the newly founded state “Czechoslovakia”, a journalist from the French publication Matin asked the first Czech President, Thomas Garrique Masaryk, whether this forced subjugation of what were then 3.6 million Germans to his small multi-ethnic state did not perhaps really represent an injustice, a political act of force, a national incapacitation.
With a disdainful gesture Masaryk replied: “Don’t worry about that! In twenty years we will have assimilated them, they will speak our language and will have long forgotten their heritage.”
Well, despite inhumane political, economic and social oppression the three-and-one-half million Germans living in the Czechoslovakia of those days (they called themselves Sudeten Germans) did not become assimilated at all. On the contrary. In the course of 20 years they responded to the intolerable restriction of even their most fundamental rights by uniting in a struggle of defense which, in autumn 1938, resulted in the rectification of the injustices of St. Germain through British and French(!) intervention. As per the Anglo-French Note of September 19, 1938, the Czechs had to return the German regions to the German Reich. The government at Prague expressly accepted this obligation on September 21, 1938.
The Sudetenland was free, and once again sovereign German territory after 20 years of bondage. It was the only correct solution. An injustice that screamed to heaven had been righted, and the world heaved a sigh of relief – but Czech President Dr. Eduard Benes wanted war, not this peaceful solution.
Their historical lies of 1918/19 that had enabled them to occupy the Sudeten regions had ended in failure. And this was what the Czechs, poisoned by an incredible chauvinism, could not get over. The Czech national soul seethed with rage and hate, but did not find a vent until May 1945, after the military defeat of the German Reich in World War Two.
For the Czechs it was the hour of revenge. And the Allies played the Sudeten Germans right into their hands once again. The inferiority complexes that had been growing in the Czech people for centuries pushed them to a terrible discharge of their pent-up fury.
The dreadful monstrosities mentioned in this book are a mere fraction of what happened in those days. German industriousness and German intellect, working tirelessly for centuries, had made Bohemia and Moravia an economic and cultural jewel. Having got their hands on it a second time, the Czechs turned it into a field of blood. How will it fit into the European Community now?
The screams from hell went unheard by the world, both then and today. To date, even the Federal Presidents and Federal Chancellors of Germany and Austria alike have ignored them.
How will it sound when Czech functionaries of the United Nations begin to push for the fulfillment of the Benes Decrees which are still gospel to them, and Central Europe is to be ethnically cleansed of the Germans – in accordance with their revered former President Benes’s appeal: “Drive the Germans from their houses, factories and farms, and leave them nothing but one handkerchief to weep into!”
Sudeten German Inferno
The hushed-up tragedy of the ethnic Germans in Czechoslovakia
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Good Work.Very Thx
Ich bin ein Bürger der Tschechischen Republik.. Meine Familie kommt aus dem Sudetenland. Und der Rest von Böhmen und Mähren.
Die Geschichte meiner Großmutter weiß ich, was die Deutschen getan haben dort.
Nicht nur im Jahr 1918, aber vor allem im Jahr 1938!
Sudečtí Deutschen waren Bürger der Tschechoslowakei wie die anderen.
Tschechischen Bevölkerung im Jahre 1938 – ermordet oder vertrieben!
Diese Sudetendeutschen waren Verräter! Für diese Straftat im Rahmen des Gesetzes Todesstrafe!
Jede Ursache hat ihre Wirkung. Die Vertreibung der Sudetendeutschen die Einigung der Weltmächte.
Eine sehr milde Strafe für das, was sie haben nicht nur in Europa begangen! Ebenso weiß ich, es ist nicht alles Sudetendeutschen Menschen wahr schlecht. Und ich bin dafür, dass jede falsche bestraft musst. Aber ich kann nicht hören, wenn ein Dieb Geschrei: Fang den Dieb!
Das machte Deutschland und Hitlers Regime!!!!
/Lidice 1942, Ležáky, KZL, etc. etc. !!!
On February 20, 2012 at 8:25 pm Gruss aus den Sudeten! said:
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Ich bin ein Bürger der Tschechischen Republik.. Meine Familie kommt aus dem Sudetenland. Und der Rest von Böhmen und Mähren.
Die Geschichte meiner Großmutter weiß ich, was die Deutschen getan haben dort.
Nicht nur im Jahr 1918, aber vor allem im Jahr 1938!
Sudetendeutschen waren Bürger der Tschechoslowakei wie die anderen.
Tschechischen Bevölkerung im Jahre 1938 – ermordet oder vertrieben!
Diese Sudetendeutschen waren Verräter! Für diese Straftat im Rahmen des Gesetzes Todesstrafe!
Jede Ursache hat ihre Wirkung. Die Vertreibung der Sudetendeutschen die Einigung der Weltmächte.
Eine sehr milde Strafe für das, was sie haben nicht nur in Europa begangen! Ebenso weiß ich, es ist nicht alles Sudetendeutschen Menschen wahr schlecht. Und ich bin dafür, dass jede falsche bestraft musst. Aber ich kann nicht hören, wenn ein Dieb Geschrei: Fang den Dieb!
Das machte Deutschland und Hitlers Regime!!!!