Barbara Edith Breindl

* 1939

  • Question: When did you start learning Czech? Answer: When I was 55. That's too late, for sure. But my parents were able to speak Czech. I have their certificates. I went through my father's certificates in the archive of Šumperk. He has always been very good, but that they learned Czech... All of them learned Czech, my mother as well. But she also had a Czech grandma, which was never thematised. And this grandmother, Vitorka, explained the following, in my opinion very important thing, to this young child: "My jsme obě Moravanky, já jsem česká Moravanka a ty jsi německá Moravanka. A ted´ musíme mluvit čes .. eh .. německy, děděček přijde.“ That's so lovely. I know where she's buried and I still thank her today, that she explained it so beautifully to the child. No contrarieties, but: "We're Moravians, you're a Moravian like this and I'm like that." Isn't that lovely? But she must have been Czech, for sure. But that was never thematised.

  • Question: And then in Germany, did you feel like a German or like a Czech? Answer: Ah, that's a good question. Later I recognized: For me Germany is like a foreign homeland and the Czech Repbulic is a homelike foreign land. 'Foreign homeland', because I never felt really rooted in Germany, it was always missing something, it was a foreign homeland. But here it's a homelike foreign land, sure the language is strange, but it's homelike.

  • My mother went with us three young children (I have a twin brother and a sister, which is two years younger than me) to Brno, because her mother, her parents, were there. Yes, and that's when we went through the so called "Brünner Death March". That means actually I can't remember anything, nothing at all. I have no idea why. Nearly nothing.. Allegedly we were brought out of our houses at the 30th of May at half past seven in the evening. I guess that was announced. My mother said that afterwards we were guided through the city in rows of five, I think that didn't happen randomly, but rather they wanted to collect the people on different stations. So apperently all of that lasted the whole night. You have to think about that: old people, ill people. Those were the first who remained lying on the street on our way to Pohrlitz [Pohořelice]. I also had..We also had an uncle and aunt, around 78 years old and when we were in Pohrlitz and met my mother's aunt, she told my mother: "I'm already a widow." So she had to leave her dead or dying husband in the roadside ditch behind. And a lot of people must have remained lying on the street. Apparently even 10 days after the Death March you could smell the smell of rotting flesh in the streets. I mean, they were not buried, they were just left there.

  • My father was released in a very interesting manner, because of Jan Masaryk, the foreign secretary at that time. My father had a penfriend in London, who was a journalist. And when Jan Masaryk stayed in London this journalist spoke to him on a personal note and asked him for my father's release and he did it. My father was released and we still have the telegram "Harald released". Therefore Jan Masaryk is of course a hero in our family. Whatever he was or wasn't, but he released our father. Then my father returned back home, apparently he weighed 46 kg. Later he didn't want to hear about it..-"Not true!", he said.

  • Full recordings
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    Brno, 08.01.2012

    duration: 01:38:38
    media recorded in project Sudetenland destinies
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I was able come back completely without prejudices

Barbara Edith Breindl
Barbara Edith Breindl
photo: Pamět národa - Archiv

Barbara Edith Breindl was born on July 6th 1939 in Skolov, Moravia. In early 1945, out of fear of the Red Army, the mother decided to move to Brno with her three children. A few months later the family was forced to go to Pohořelice with the Brno death march. From there they fled across the Austrian border to Upper Austria. After the father came home from war, the family settled down in Hannover. After finishing high-school, Barbara Breindl joined a convent. In 1995 she came back to the Czech Republic – after some time working for the German catholic community in Duchcov and Prague, she finally settled in Brno. She feels really connected with this town, she has been living here ever since. At the age of 55 she began to successfully learn Czech.