Helmut Bartsch

* 1933  

  • "In February, the snow was gone, and we were burning leaves. We were boys and we threw spruce twigs into the fire. Not far away from us was a German lieutenant, a commander of the army. The fire could have been seen and there was fighting going on. And they held military duty on that day – they went down and saw everything. And as they saw the fire, the commander immediately gave the order to open fire at it. And we were there, three or four guys. Those who were on duty quickly ran down and my mother came and beat us up badly with a belt. It was bad."

  • "Next to our field was a large meadow and the English played football there, especially on Sundays. When we played there, especially throughout the war, we had nothing – no ball to play with and no chocolate. But they had everything. They received from the Red Cross meat cans, chocolate, everything. We came to the meadow and they had two balls. They would always borrow us one ball and played football next to them on the meadow. Sometimes there were some guards, sometimes not. There was one youngster named Gerhard, and there was an old guy, too, about sixty years old, but he didn't go there. They didn't want to flee anyway. Why would they try to escape? They only worked in the woods for a few hours a day and they were given good food there. Once we proposed to them to give us one of the balls. One of them said: 'all right, but we want some eggs for it'. I said: 'no problem'. At home, we had chickens and our neighbor (Hauke, note by the author), they had a much larger homestead and many hen. And the younger son Bertig, who still lives in Germany today, he collected the eggs. So the hens no longer carried eggs. We collected the eggs and buried them in the garden. When we had enough of them, we went to the English. But they were not on the meadow. So we went down to the camp. We came to the camp, there was such a courtyard and there we found them dribbling with the ball."

  • "They came at night. Someone suddenly started banging on the door. It was the main commissioner from Uhelná who came from Ostrava and with him a soldier. Suddenly they were banging on our door. Nobody ever told us why they came and what they wanted. They just said to my dad: 'you're coming with us'. I witnessed it all because I slept in the bedroom as well. My father had trouble getting up from bed because he was recovering from a serious war injury. For that he was punched in the face right away. My mother protested a little. She said: 'What's going on here? He didn't do anything wrong'. The Commissioner spoke German. He said: 'Setzen Sie sich, or I'll shoot you'! So they took my dad away and me, my sisters and my mother, we hid in the forest. We were afraid that they might come for us as well. It started to rain, so I went home to see if the air was clear. Nobody came for us anymore."

  • "They had a few rifles and stood there (the Henlein supporters, note by the author). The financial guards marched along. They were armed and had hand grenades. And when they reached the bridge they stopped them: 'Halt! Surrender!' The two of them jumped into the river under the bridge and before long, one of them (there was Majzlík and Gebauer) threw a hand grenade on the other side. Soon there were about seven wounded by shrapnel. Among them was a certain Scharmannová who had been curious and wouldn't listen. A short walk away, there was a farm, so they took them there for treatment. Their injuries weren't too bad but it was bleeding a lot. As they threw the grenade, they opened fire in that direction. But it was already getting dark. Among them was a certain Hutner, who then spent the next 10 years in prison. So they were shooting in that direction and then it was quiet. In the morning of the next day, there lay a dead on that place. He was shot in the head and the other one fled."

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    Uhelná a Nové Vilémovice, 16.05.2013

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    duration: 02:34:16
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In the foothills of the Rychlebské hory Mountains

Helmut Bartsch - May 2013
Helmut Bartsch - May 2013
photo: Vít Lucuk

Helmut Bartsch was born in 1933 in Nové Vilémovice (Neu Wilmsdorf in German), a settlement located in the region of Javornicko. Like the vast majority of the inhabitants of the village and the surrounding region, his parents were of German nationality. On September 21, 1938, the local Henlein adherents assaulted the financial guard in this village and one member of the guard, Stanislav Majzlík, was killed in the shootout. During the war, his father Josef had to enroll in the Wehrmacht. He was injured in France and was treated at home during the last months of the war. In 1945, he was arrested and imprisoned. After his release from prison, he was transferred to Germany, while the rest of his family was not included in the post-war resettlement and remained in Czechoslovakia. By the end of the 1940s, a colony of Greek refugees settled in Nové Vilémovice and the remaining Germans had to leave the village. After the departure of the Greek settlers, a large part of the village was demolished and its lower part was completely abandoned. Helmut Bartsch ended up in the nearby village of Uhelná, where he married the German Hedwiga Moserová, who was also a native from Nové Vilémovice. Until his retirement, Helmut Bartsch worked in a local state farm. He still lives in Uhelná with his wife today.