Růžena Babičová

* 1922  

  • “It was terrible, they began to move us, to load us up on a truck. I was pregnant at the time. I fell down and they wanted to send me to a hospital. I didn’t go because I had absolutely no idea how I would meet up with my family again. The journey was very strenuous. I was afraid I would lose my child. They took us to Břeclav where we stayed overnight together with our livestock. I had to feed and milk our cows. I also had to feed our chicken, pigs and rabbits. Our possessions and livestock took up nine railway cars. We were transporting hay, straw, potatoes, turnip – just about everything. We had to sleep in these cars as well. But what can you do? Nothing. So we just tried to hold out and the journey went on. We were on the road for a day and a half. It was a terrible experience.”

  • “Here, in the south, Moravia is golden. In the north of Moravia, it’s cold, and there’s a lot of snow. When we wanted to move and were coming home the children were asking us: ‘you haven’t found anything yet?’ And they weren’t even used to live there. Růžena was two years old when we left, Josef was born after we moved.”

  • “My husband went to check it in advance. Then we set out on that journey. We had to wait in Šternberk for quite a long time. We were sitting outside like gypsies waiting for somebody to come and pick us up. After our arrival we had to first ready our house and only then could we move in. We had to stay with some relatives of ours for some time. It was terrible – I wouldn’t wish anyone to live like that. The gypsies used to live a life of nomads and we lived just like that.”

  • “Each day, when the bell was ringing for noon, we kids took the cows and walked for an hour to the pasture. At half past six we walked for an hour back again. It was fun at the pasture, we walked here and there, we were baking potatoes and corn. Our Pepi Uchytil was constantly cooking something in his pot, we had a lot of fun. When I went to school, each morning, before I went there, I had to graze the cows. Then I had to quickly run home and then finally to school. That was the life we had.”

  • “I was born in Frélichov on January 24, 1922. We lived in that place till 1949, when we were displaced. They loaded us up on railway cars and moved us to Huzová where they unloaded us and left us waiting at the train station for some trucks to come and pick us up. We lived in our first house for about five or six years but then, one winter, the roof started to come down on our heads. We had to move on, go somewhere else. The next house became our home till 1962, when we moved to Břeclav. We stayed in Břeclav for 8 years until they took our house again and demolished it. Then we moved to Old Břeclav where we still live and where we’ll stay till our deaths.”

  • "There were about 15 or 20 Croatian families. Some of them were from Přerov or Dobré pole. But the ones from Dobre pole were few, just two or maybe three. It's good we were together like this. We spoke only Croatian, what else? The elders wanted to speak Croatian so we all spoke Croatian. Even the kids when they were palying outside on the street, they spoke Croatian." "Didn't they get into trouble for that in school?" "Not any more than we did when we went to school in Frélichov. We spoke Croatian at home and Czech at school." "I mean the Czech kids. Didn't they laugh at the Croatian kids for that?" "Not at all. There were Germans as well, we lived together and nobody had a problem with it."

  • “We weren’t even allowed to come back home to Frélichov. We used to know every root there, every hole. So why should I ask for permission to come back home? We simply got up and went back there from time to time. We ate on the cellars. One girl that went there with us wanted to work at one of the local farms. We went there to ask if they had a job for her. A friend of us warned us not to do that, that we would get arrested. But I knew best what to do and what not to do. Nothing happened to us. Although there were some soldiers stationed there, we pretended to be locals and passed unnoticed. This was at the time when we already lived in Huzová.”

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    Břeclav, 09.10.2010

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    duration: 01:04:28
    media recorded in project History and language of Moravian Croats
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“Am I supposed to ask for permission to come back home?”

Family of Růžena Babičová
Family of Růžena Babičová
photo: archiv pamětníka

Růžena Babičová, née Pevnerová, was born in 1922 in Frélichov, a Croatian village in southern Moravia. Her mother tongue is Croatian. She also speaks Czech because she attended Czech schools and because of the proximity of Austria, she also speaks German. After the annexation of the Sudetenland, her two brothers had to enrol in the German army; one of them fell in the war. After the war, she married František Babič, a Croat. In 1949, the family was displaced and moved to the town of Húzová in northern Moravia. However, as she was passionately missing her native village, she kept coming back in the fifties even though she was missing the necessary permits. They moved to Břeclav in the sixties. They kept speaking Croatian in the family and therefore their kids speak the language and Mrs. Babičová still speaks Croatian today at a very high level.