“Mothers were scared. The boys were going to the war, would they come back? Or wouldn’t they? This was the fear of the end and of possible conclusion of life. Such were the orders and for us there was no ideology in it. It was a fact and we did not do any reasoning. The boys of course got holidays, they had uniforms. And what had we been doing? We went sledding. This one was dressed in uniform; that one was in Hitlerjugend; the other one was in plain clothes, that didn’t matter. The times were such. At the college, I gave a lecture to boys who were my age. I explained it to them – to be happy and what was expected of us. Birth-year 1928 was the last one to go.“
“We arrived to this village on 12 or 13 April. What use were we there? So we did some cleaning. The battlefront was nearby and one of them said: ‘Let’s go!’ So we marched in an orderly way. We received bicycles, we had clothing, rifles. I remember them giving me a Belgian rifle but no cartridges because they had no more. They said: ‘Take this rifle.’ Simply stupid. So we marched, I was sixteen and was weak, therefore we were in the rear. We walked through villages where mothers stood on sidewalks and cried, seeing the tragedy of war life. They brought us water. And this friend of mine said: ‘Hey, let’s not go there, let’s disappear.’”
“We looked out of the window and saw our acquaintances. Women in hats, coats, gloves. All of them were pulling carts towards the railway station. Suddenly, our bell rang. A group came in; they were from the so-called revolutionary gard. Obviously, among them were some military official and Czech residents. We had our suitcases packed and ready to go. Us kids were excited about the new things that were awaiting us but our parents knew they would lose it all… We had unframed pictures of Stalin and Beneš in the kitchen. The times were such. Naturally, those guards spoke Czech to my mom as well as to my dad. I also told them hello and they were all confused about it. Then, another one who knew us came in and said: ‘We’ll leave them for the moment; it needs to be talked over.’”
I have long since crossed out the word next time from my vocabulary
Hanuš Adamec was born on the 20th of November, 1928. As he himself says, he was born in Bohemia but his home is Europe. He comes from a family with Czech roots which had been fully integrated into the German environment of inter-war Ústí nad Labem. His father, a clerk at the municipality, opted for Czech nationality in 1934. But given his public office, he raised his family in a nationally neutral way. The Adamec family did not take part in public associations, they were practicing Christians and Hanuš’s father was a member of the Social Democrats. Hanuš was sent to German schools and his sister to Czech ones. They would speak German at home but all of them were fluent in Czech and the family had friends among both Czechs and Germans. After the secession of Sudetenland to Germany, they automatically became German citizens. In order to be admitted to a business college he had to join the Hitlerjugend. With the development of the war his father was enlisted and served as a clerk in Litoměřice and later in Krakow. Hanuš Adamec observed his older friends leaving for the front. He saw it as something inevitable. After schools closed down in 1944 he went to a labour office and took up job as an inspector in a factory in Teplice. He worked alongside people who were serving in forced labour. His colleagues cried when he left with his draft card in hand. In April 1945, he marched next to his friend, armed with a rifle without ammunition and a bicycle from Chemnitz towards the battlefront. They escaped from the boys convoy and in the upcoming chaos they managed to get safely back home. In the summer of 1945, Hanuš , his younger sister and his parents waited, their suitcases packed. Through the window, they saw the departure of many familiar faces. When the Czech guards came, they took them by surprise with their fluent Czech and with portraits of Edvard Beneš and Joseph Stalin hanging on their kitchen wall. One of the guards knew the family and convinced his colleagues to let them stay. Hanuš Adamec was member of a regional committee for national minorities. He passed away on March, the 22nd, 2023.