“They formed the so-called People’s Militia. When I saw the militia men marching through the streets of Prague with their dull faces and the willingness to start shooting at their fellow citizens if given an order, that was a shocking experience for me, one that I will never forget as long as I’m alive. These people, Czechs, who were armed and who would shoot at people if ordered so. You could see it on their faces that they would be willing to follow such an order. I realized I would never be able to identify with this party.”
“Whenever a song was over, he led me to the table, poured me a shot of some alcohol and gave me some lard. I drank the glass and ate the lard and I began feeling sick. When people saw that I was sick, they helped me to lie down on a couch in the room there. The Russian commander said that he would go away for a while, but he said: ´Zdenda, I will come back.´ When he left, the people noticed that something bad was about to happen, and they told my girlfriends to take me home. I lived nearby. The girls brought me home and my mom was shocked when she saw that I was tipsy. She was such a puritan and now I come home like that. The next day I learned what had happened. The commander came back there and began looking for me. He asked his manservant where I was. The guy told him that he didn’t know and that I had probably walked away. The commander threatened to shoot him, because he was to watch me. He pulled out a gun to shoot him. The servant was a young boy, and he fell to his knees and began crying, entreating him not to shoot because he wanted to see his mommy again. People talked the commander out of it and promised him that I would come back. Eventually nothing came out if it, but he has nearly shot the servant boy.”
[Interviewer: Do you recall the assassination of Heydrich in Prague? How did you feel about it as a family, did you talk about it?] “Certainly. We were quite interested in politics. Of course we rejoiced, because Heydrich was a terrible bastard. We were so happy that it’s over with him. But what followed became fateful for so many people. The Nazis were furious. There were thousands of people. One could be accused of ‘Approving of the assassination of Reichsprotektor Reinhard Heydrich,’ and get capital punishment just for that. But all of us were approving of it; luckily nobody has informed upon us. But there were four men from Malešice who were executed, because one of them, a fifth man, turned them in, and all four of them thus lost their lives.”
“In the 1950s, after the birth of our daughter and when the political trials were underway, my husband also almost got arrested. The only company that had preference in recruiting at that time was the mines in Jáchymov, and whoever wanted to work there was hired. As a soldier of the western army and a Jew on top of that, he was accused that he was an adherent of Slánský, who was executed at that time. Fortunately one member of the district committee of the Communist Party warned him that his case was being discussed and he advised him to get out of there quickly otherwise he might be arrested and tried. I don’t know what would have happened had he been tried, but he would have been certainly imprisoned or even executed since he was allegedly one of the remaining supporters of Slánský. My husband thus handed in his notice, but the boss didn’t want to let him go, because he wanted to wait until they came to arrest him. My husband thus went to the employment office and told them that he wanted to quit his job but the boss would not let him go. They said that it was difficult if his boss didn’t approve of it. The only company that had preference in recruiting at that time were the mines in Jáchymov, and whoever wanted to work there was hired. My husband thus applied to work there and the boss had to let him go. He thus disappeared in Jáchymov for two years. [Interviewer: “What did you think of it?”] I agreed with him, because I knew that the situation was serious and that they would either arrest him or execute him. I was glad, even though he was doing terrible work there with people who had been sentenced. He had not been sentenced, but he worked alongside the prisoners and it was a horrible work.”
Zdena Ehrmannová was born in 1927 in Prague and her childhood was carefree until the outbreak of WWII. She first became aware of the current political situation when transports carrying Jews to concentration camps began passing behind their house and she felt the omnipresent fear from the Gestapo. The father of one of her friends was executed for his involvement in the resistance movement. Zdena participated in compulsory short-term work in the border region (hops picking) before the end of the war. In the final days of the war she witnessed the flight of German soldiers who attempted to break through the barricade in Malešice and also the arrival of the Red Army, where, probably only by coincidence, she was saved from rape. After the war she had to go for another three-month work to the border regions when workers were needed to replace the Germans who had been forcibly deported. She joined the Union of National Socialist Youth. In 1947, during a trip to the mountains, she met her husband-to-be Petr Hermann, former soldier on the western front. They married and had one daughter. In the 1950s her husband was threatened with arrest for his Jewish origin and his having fought in the western army and he therefore volunteered to work in the Jáchymov mines. After two years of separation he returned home and he learnt the locksmith’s trade. The Ehrmann family was living under the state surveillance until 1989.