Main Village Street 1940/1941

Expropriation and Expulsion

Till 1945 Damitz was a village with only German population. This population has been evicted with the exception of one family in 3 shipments to West Germany mostly to Bavaria and North Wuerttemberg / Baden in the first 6 months of 1946. Some Families were deported to “Inner Czechoslovakia” to do “hard-labor” on farms. This was the right acc. to the Benesh Decrets. In advance to our eviction we were brought for some days to a so called collection camp and also those above mentioned families were brought to that camp. Each person was permitted to take 50kg of luggage with him, but the goods to be taken along was depending on the permission of the new –Czech “Owners” of our houses and all our other goods. Acc. to the Benesh Decrets, everything has to be taken away from Germans therefore the new owners wore sometimes the clothes of our parents and their children our shoes.
In that camp our baggage has been searched again and many things have been taken away or been damaged.

How the new “Owners” came to the ownership of our properties?

In summer 1945 mostly men went through our village, looked at houses, went in sometimes accompanied by men with guns, checked everything and when they liked it, they went to the “Kommissar”, who was the new administrator, and there they got registered and got a certificate -a kind of title-deed- showing them as the owner of the house Number …. With this step the property shifted to the new "owner". Which formalities behind this act took place were not visible to us, it had no meaning to us. The Czech occupants of our houses were presenting that document showing them as the owner of the property with all inventary and live-stock. From this very moment, the former german owners were not permitted to take anything out of the house by their own. It depended exclusively to the Czech occupants what we could keep as ours.

We were declared as stateless and without any things of our own (unpropertied) !

The picture shows my birth-certificate with the Czech stamp showing exactly that!

In some way fortunately my fathers house has been partially damaged by bombs, so it was relatively unattractive in the first row, later a 22 years old single man from Wolhinia moved in so we were in a relatively lucky position.
In some cases the German families had to leave their houses immediately and had to find a quarter in the houses of relatives, some were deported (see above).
For a certain time some Czech gangs were terrorising the village, searching for hidden goods robbing and torturing and even killing one German man, we had the impression that even the new Czech settlers were afraid of them.
After the first so called “gold diggers” the village was populated step by step by also not on their own will coming Czech people from Wolhinia (now Ukraine). They were also forced to leave their origin home country. Their advantage was only that they could move into intact and even furnished houses. This was not our case.

The forced migration of the german populaton was executed by train. As mentioned above in three "shipments" in January, March and June 1946. We were "loaded" in railway waggons which are used mostly for cattle transportation. In each carriage 30 people with their luggage. After 3 days we received our destination in Seckach/Baden in the American Zone of Germany.

Report concerning the period from May 1945 till June 1946

I write this report to my memory on a special wish of our good czech friend Vera B.. As Vera is a poet, she may forgive me my sober prosaic writing!

Iwas then just 9 years old and enjoyed the exciting last weeks of the war much. The front line was only 10 km from our village.. what can be more interesting for boy of that age? I did not realize what could happen...
Our large farmhouse in typical moravian rectangular style with the dimension of 38m by 125m was hit by 17 bombs and shells on May 7th, the last day of the war. Even when the dwelling-house itself had only little damages on the roof, one can imagine that it as a whole gave a nicely damaged impression.
Due to the exposed place of our house, we spent the first days (or weeks?) in the small and inconspicuous little house of my grandmother.
After the first 2 weeks of the stay of russian front soldiers, czech gangs (sorry, even when they called themself partisans, they were just a gang of marodeurs) came into the village, stealing, robbing, torturing and even murdering one man after having him tortured without any reason for 3 days. That man, Viktor Wieder, was definitely no Nazi.
They were searching the ground for hidden goods. They requested the german inhabitants to deliver all goods of "higher lifestyle" as there are Radios and bycicles to their collection place.
Many of our people prefered to destroy this goods instead to deliver them to this people.
Those bandits had no interest in the village, they mooved to somewhere else after some weeks of sheer terror.

Russian soldiers tried to organize with us children some work in the fields, with little success.
For that reason we children were ordered to collect in the school house.
As we were told before, we entered the classroom, lifted our hand and greeted with "Heil Hitler".
That effected a burst out of laughter by the russians.
I do not dare to think about what would have happened if there would have been Czech and not Russians!

End of May some people, surveyers of the so called "Todesmarsch" ("mortal trail"?)of the german inhabitants of Brno, were brought into our village. Into our house came a woman with her old mother which could not anymore effort the continuation to Austria. All what they had with them was what they had on their body and in a very small suitcase.
After having killed the ones which could not walk anymore within the first 2 days of this horrible march the weak became obviously too many for killing them all.

Then came the order that all germans must wear a white armlet with a black N (for Nemec Czech for German). I think all over 14 had to wear it. I was just 9 but I insisted to have it too and I wore it on all the time!.
(I must admit, but I think I was then a fanatical nationalist if not even a "Nazi" but all by myself, my parents had no political ambition!!)
We children had in 1945 a time like in paradise. We were not permitted to visit a school, what about we did not regret much!

With the Czech so called commisar a kind of Czech village administration was established.
My father was requested to help them for a start up. He was before the so called "Ortsbauernführer" the leader of the local farmers, and also member of the NSDAP which he became automatically as the succeeding party of the "Sudetendeutsche Partei". He had the knowledge which the new administrators needed.
But he had also a good knowledge in Czech language in writing and speaking.
German and Czech families used to "exchange" -the so called Wechsel or na Wexl- their children for at least one year for language learning purpose in the age of about 14 years and therefore my father was living for one year at Dolny Kounice in a czech family and visited also the czech school during this time.
Later, when he was not needed anymore by the czech administrators he was arrested and brought into a Work Camp in Mähr.-Kromau / Mor. Krumlov.

Our house was then occupied acc. to the above described procedere by a 22 year old Czech from Wholinia.
With his moving in we were already living with 3 parties in our house.

Despite the fact that it is a horrible thing when suddenly somebody moved in and declared that everything of your own belongs now to him, it could be worse than it was with "our Czech"( we indeed said so) Vaclav "Vaschko" Hokesch.
Even when he with his friends destilated Wodka out of nearly everything they could find, and were drinking all night in our large farmhouse kitchen until they lost consciousness , we could stay in our house, because he had no family to move in.
My mother and my (much beloved and admired) Cousin Maria, who lived during that time with us, tried to steal them as much as possible of the alcohol. They made a kind egg likor of it. Maria took some of this bottles along with her when she finally escaped at night into Austria. I think it helped her for her start up.
In the house of Marias parents was no place for her after a Czech family moved in. Her parents with brother and sister were kicked out later and found a place in the house of relatives.

The picture which was most probably taken in early spring 1946 in the yard of our house and shows from left to right: Hokesch sen., unknown, my Grandmother, Vaclav Hokesch, my Mother, sitting in front Joschka Heller. (there are not many photographs existing from that time)

During the above mentioned drinkung-bouts, my mother did not permit us to go to bed. She took us as a kind of protection for her and Maria, in which she was definitely right.
When she was asked to send us to bed, she refused and answered, that if they are going to shoot us, she wanted them to kill us all that why she wants to have her children with her.
Of course they were threatening to shoot us several times!
Beside that she ruled the young Hokesch soon and he even wanted to name her mother but she refused.
Today one can hardly image it but then Germans were not permitted to earn or to have money. All income came into the hand of V.Hokesch. We could go and buy i.e. bread, but before my mother had to convince him to give money or to pay after for a purchase. We had the status of the slaves in antic Rome!

In autumn my father came, I think on request of Mr. Schabata, for the sugar rootes harvesting to Tullnitz /Dolenice.
It was I think for me the best and most intensive time I spent with my father. I would go in the morning to the near neighbour village and spent the whole day with him.
My parents were hiding a barrel with wine under potatos in the old cellar. I think, my father emptied it all during this time.

When this ended also the ralative good times came to an end.
The forced migration to germany was going on already in our neighbourvillages. My Grandmother from Irritz / Jirice was already in Germany.
Damitz / Damnice was only excluded because of a Typhus epidemic.
My father came into the County Prison to Znaim / Znojmo were he was after some weeks in a cell under undescribable conditiones, senteced for 6 years hard labor. He came first to the unfamous Prison to Mürau / Myrov and later for work in a quarrel in Tlumatsov.
It was then obvios that we will have to go the migration without him.
My brave mother visited him in Myrov as well as in Tlumatsov.
It was not so easy, because she had to persuade Vaclav Hokesch to get a travel permission for her and also the money for the ticket!
Germans were not permitted to use a train without official permission and in the train, they were not permitted to use a seat, they had to stand! My mother told us about a Czech woman in the train who urged her to use a seat and she also promised to pay attention for the case the conductor would come. It was not all just horror. (My mother could speak Czech as well but not so perfect that she dared to travel without her armlet with the "N")

In June 1946 this time came to an end. We had to accept our forced migration to Germany.
I think the final leave-taking was not so hard, it was a long saying good bye step by step already before this final going.

Some of the new Czech inhabitants were standing at the edge of the village with a transparent with the inscription:
Wir wollen ins heim ins Reich!

One old Czech, he is now over 90 years old, mentioned some years ago to me, with tears in his eyes:
With the leave of your people gods blessings left this country as well!

There will be a continuation "Arival and Reception in Germany"