Josef Bannert

* 1947  

  • “It was my day off on the twenty-first. I was with the company. It was still dark in the morning when we were woken up by the terrible roar of airplanes. And because the Russians knew their way around there very well from the exercise, a plane with navigators landed and they immediately took over the navigation towers. And then it was one Annushka plane after another and tanks rolling from the inside, with headlights still wrapped in wax paper. We had never seen tanks like that before. They were sixty-twos, and we had fifty-fives, tops.”

  • “There was a regulation for every task. For instance, one team of six people had to dig up half a metre of a corridor per shift, per person. At the end of the month, surveyors would come to measure it and add it all up. And that's how we were paid. To achieve a record, longer drilling rods were used and we would try to do significantly more than the regulation required. It had to be at least thirty percent more than the regulation required. That would always be for some sort of communist anniversary. We would have records for The Great October Socialist Revolution or some sort of victory and so on.”

  • “They said: “You've got results. Your team is doing well. You're exceeding the requirements. You should be in the party.” But I didn't want to join, so I told them: “I can't do two things at once. To be a good party member and a good miner.” And, to be completely honest, I only worked so much so that my kids could study.”

  • “As kids of German parents we suffered a little bit in school. I'm not saying we suffered a lot, but we did a little. After the war, Romanian Slovaks, Greeks, I don't know who else, moved in. Gypsies, and so on. And this (attitude) towards Germans was already there among those kids. You're German, you're a fascist, they would say, and it was quite unpleasant.”

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    Heřmanovice, 07.07.2017

    (audio)
    duration: 04:48:13
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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Judge a person by their craft

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photo: archiv Josefa Bannerta

Josef Bannert was born on the 8th of March 1947 in Heřmanovice in the Bruntál area, near the Jeseníky mountains. His mother was a Sudeten German and after the war she was forced to work at a farm estate in the Frýdek-Místek area. His father was unknown and so Josef Bannert grew up with his mother and his German grandparents’ family. In 1948 the family received an offer to move to Germany. They refused and instead they were moved to Žďár nad Sázavou. His mother married there, got Czech citizenship, and the family returned to Heřmanovice. In August 1968 Josef Bannert witnessed the invasion of the Warsaw Pact armies in the military area in Milovice. In 1975 he started working as a miner in the Zlatá Hora mines, where he witnessed the deep level mining of copper, one of the key strategic materials for socialist Czechoslovakian industry.