Marie Brychtová

* 1928  

  • “Before I ran away, he (the Pole) just came to me and said: ‘You have to escape, I will do everything for you, I will get you something.’ He really did, he brought me a handbag so that I would... ‘I will be waiting for you and I will place you somewhere, you will somehow get out.’ And when we reached the place… all this, we wore stripes on the lapels and on the sleeves, and he removed all of it for me and he brought me some coat. He told me: ‘Come on, let’s go.’ We walked on a path as the Germans were retreating and we came there and he stopped one of them and asked: ‘Where are you going? They said: ‘To some place behind Znojmo, all the way there.’ And he (the Pole) asked him: ‘She was visiting somebody here and now she cannot get home.’ And he said: ‘Well, she can.’ He had a field kitchen and he had a boiler on the wagon behind him, and he told me: ‘Let her get up there behind the boiler, it is warm there, and she can go with us.’ I really did get all the way to Novosedly. And I walked all the way to the road, because to get to our village from Novosedly we had to walk, and a motorbike, a boy on a motorbike was passing by, and he stopped and asked me: ‘Where, to Nový Přerov? I will give you a ride.’ But I was afraid. He looked at me and he asked: ‘You are scared, aren’t you? Don’t be afraid, I will take you to the outskirts of Přerov and you will walk from there.’ He really did take me there, I got there, and I walked home and in the kitchen there was a butchered cow, the Russians were cooking already. I said: ‘Where are my parents, where are all those people?’ I was told that they were in the cellars. I went there, I did not step on a mine or anything. And I walked all the way to the cellar. I said: ‘Where is my family, where is mommy?’ – ‘They are with the Křižanic family, go there.’ And they were there, in the cellar down there. ‘Žofka, somebody came to visit you.’ She said: ‘Who would come to visit me here…?’ And as she walked the stairs up there, she looked at me and she did not recognize me. I said: ‘Mom, it’s me.’ And she fell down. Her heart... she fainted. They revived her, there was no water, and so they used wine, and she came to herself and I said: ‘Mom, it’s me, I have come back.”

  • “We didn’t have dad and my mom, the poor woman, was thus going to those landowners and asking them to give her something so that she would be able to feed us. She did not have anything. And I was babysitting, I was twelve years old, and there were the younger ones, and one day, as we were sitting with the children in the door and talking, together with the neighbour’s kids, too, suddenly two gentlemen arrived there in a car and they asked if the Zimmerman family lived there, and they asked me to show them where the village administration office was located. I said: ‘Why, you have just passed by it.’– ‘Yes, come, you need to go.’ They pushed me inside the car. That was it, and nobody knew anymore where I was, and who I was, nothing. They brought all of us to Mikulov and in Mikulov they placed us, if you remember those cars, cars that were used for transporting pigs or cattle, and they forced us to get into one such train car. The train started moving. I was twelve and I asked: ‘Where are they taking us now?’ All of them, all of them were crying, and the train was moving very slowly, it was full. There were twelve train cars and all of them were full. Well, this was my first experience, and I asked: ‘What will happen to us?’ We arrived, and the way they did it was that the train went all the way inside the camp. It was a camp for transforming children into Germans and it was constructed in a way like children’s summer camps are now. There was a large meadow and the camp was built on it. There were four of us girls in one tent. Well, it was horrible, but we had to, we had to. I used to pray in the evenings. I was sitting there and there was a Russian girl, and a Pole, and one from Sweden or what country it was, there were four of us. They asked: ‘What are you doing?’ But none of them understood me, only the Polish girl. I said: ‘I am praying.’ And she said: ‘Pray then, so that all of us…’ I said: ‘But you don’t understand me.’ But she told me: ‘Little girl, there is only one God. You are praying and you are praying for us, too, so that God would protect us.’ I said: ‘Well, I will then.’ Every evening, when we got back, they would come only to me to pray. We would always sit down and pray.”

  • “There was a young soldier and he brought us food and he looked at us and said: ‘Be careful, that man caught some flies and he put them in your meal. Be careful.’ I thought, well, it’s good that somebody had said it; if we informed upon him, they would kill him. In winter we walked to the forest to cut trees and we had to bring them closer to the road so that they would be able to take them away. A boy spoke out: ‘We are thirsty and it is cold.’ All of those bosses had thermos flasks and one of them said: ‘There is snow, so you can lick snow.’ And another thing that I remember, I had an axe and as we were walking back from the forest to the camp after an all day of work, we had to sing on top of that: ‘Heute gehört uns Deutschland und morgen die ganze Welt. Today, Germany belongs to us, and tomorrow, the whole world will belong to us.’ And we had to sing and we were tired. There was a… we sat down there and I forgot my axe there. I said: ‘Oh, now I will be punished for that.’ But we walked to the camp and the kids didn’t say anything and as they were throwing their things onto one pile she thought that I had returned my axe in there as well. And on the following day, we did it again, and we were dressed, with shoes and everything that they gave us, and the German woman herself said: ‘Use those rags and wrap them around your feet, and inside your boots, at least you will stay warm when you are in the forest the whole day.’”

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    Moravská Nová Ves, 16.02.2018

    (audio)
    duration: 02:30:38
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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My girl, there is only one God

1948 - shortly after the wedding
1948 - shortly after the wedding
photo: archiv pamětnice

Marie Brychtová was born on March 5, 1928 into the family of Mr. and Mrs. Zimmerman in Nový Přerov in the Mikulov district as the fourth child of eight siblings. Her father had come to Moravia from Croatia in search of work and her mother was from Slovakia. The village was annexed to the Nazi Germany in 1938 and the family moved to Slovakia. They had to return in spring 1939, and the village was already occupied by Germans. In May 1940 Marie was forcibly taken to a labour camp near Mauthausen and for the following five years she became No. 24. When the war front passed through the area in spring 1945 she managed to escape from the camp with the help of a Polish boy and she got home. Fierce fighting was underway in the village at the end of the Second World War. At that time Marie learnt that she had been sent to the labour camp on purpose in place of another girl. In 1945 she began working in a children’s home in Mikulov and in 1948 she married Josef Brychta with whom she raised three children.