Jaroslav Ermis

* 1928  †︎ 2020

  • "Revolting against the German population has grown. I have one unpleasant memory of it. The chief engineer of Schneider factory was allegedly an assistant to the Gestapo. I know that he lived in Erbenova Street in Vítkovice. He once sent me to them with a box for my wife to pack up, because they wanted to get out of Ostrava away from the front. But in the end, he stayed. He wore a SA uniform, belt, brown shirt, tights, and high boots. Employees caught him somewhere and brought him back to the engine room. Right behind the gates of the mechanical workshop was a large drawing board, and a revolutionary court was sitting at the board. The Schneiders were accused of reporting people from the machine shop. He also allegedly traveled with the Gestapo to Wallachia, where there were purging our people. He was eventually convicted and had to go on his knees to the gatehouse. It was horrible. There they loaded him into the car and took him away. I don't know what happened to him. I attended that trial, but it wasn't nice. But it was a revolutionary time. At that time, people directly wanted to be able to bring something to the Germans. I felt sorry for him as he walked on his knees on those cat's heads. That was not good."

  • "In the morning, when we got up, the streets were littered with German corpses. It was a terrible sight. One German unit stayed in the Hulvac forest. At night it wanted to get to Frýdek-Místek behind other German units. When they came to Zábřeh, there was already a lot of Soviet soldiers and the battle began. There were so many corpses, no one can imagine. The German citizens, who were already concentrated in the buildings in Výškovická Street, then had to remove them. They loaded them into carts and took them to the cemetery. There was already a large pit, which "The Germans also had to dig them out. And they put them on top of each other and covered them with lime."

  • "The door opened and the director Skalický came in, and he just said, 'Karl, they came for you.' Two Gestapo men immediately entered the classroom, wearing hats and leather coats. And immediately they went to Čepek: 'Are you Karel Čepek?' He confirmed it. And they said, 'You will come with us.' He was arrested in class. It was more than a shock to us. Can you imagine the Gestapo arresting the pastor in front of the children?”

  • "They took us to Frenštát pod Radhoštěm to Horečky, to a hostel under the bridges. We were accommodated there and dug trenches. It was horrible. You can't imagine that! At that time it was cold, frost, snow up to the waist. We slept on straw in the hostel. One blanket under us, the other one we had from home on top. In the morning at six alarm clock went off. They gave us bread with beet jam and we had to go to the triple row and walked on foot to Pindula. This is a hill between Frenštát and Rožnov. There, an anti-tank trench was dug, about three or four meters deep, five or six meters wide. It was supposed to be against tanks that were to come from Slovakia. The smart ones from our party, third-year apprentices, they had shovels. And the fools we were, we took pickaxes. We dug all day and they threw a shovel twice because the ground was frozen. And we were guarded then by a soldier who had no eye, limped and wore a military uniform and a black rubber coat. We called him the Rubber Eye."

  • "After the bombing, we got together with the youth from the board of trustees. We agreed to go help clean and dismantle the affected houses. We went to Sasínovec, to Karpatská street, today it is called V Troskách. There was Mr. Kozmík's house. His son Luboš Kozmík was my classmate. We picked bricks and looked for every home detail. The house was demolished into one pile. The highlight was when we found an intact five-liter glass with eggs loaded in lime. That's how it was done to preserve the eggs. It was like a miracle. He can't imagine that. And the joy of Mrs. Kozmíková!"

  • "We flew to the ore and hid under the wagon. There were anti-aircraft guns around Ostrava and they were already firing at the alliances that were in the air. We didn't know they were already throwing bombs. And an older gentleman ran around and said, 'Guys, don't stand under the car and on those tracks, but run away, because they will bomb it here, I experienced it in Germany. Those tracks will be broken.‘ We ran outside, flying towards the agglomeration. There was a wooden fence. We climbed it and where Hornbach is today, there were gardens of miners from Jeremenko. It used to be Lojza's shaft. They had gardens and sheds where they kept rabbits and poultry, just what was needed under Germany. We hid in a shed. We were scared because shrapnel from anti-aircraft guns began to fly. It was just whizzing. We each entered one rabbit hutch. So I went through a bombing in a rabbit hutch. Then it stopped. It is a fact that bombs have fallen on the ore. If we stayed under the car, who knows how it would turn out."

  • "Even in primary school, when the Germans came in 1939, several boys had to leave our class because their parents joined the Germans. They were Urban, Štefl, Schmidt and Maralík. When they said goodbye to us at school, they cried that they had to go to a German school. It was horrible. The boys paid extra for it, too. When they were fifteen, they had to enlist for Germany. Urban and Maralík fell in the war. It was a gift to the parents for joining the Germans."

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    Ostrava, 29.05.2018

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The streets of Ostrava-Zábřeh were littered with the corpses of German soldiers

Jaroslav Ermis / September 1942
Jaroslav Ermis / September 1942
photo: archiv Jaroslava Ermise

Jaroslav Ermis was born on August 21, 1928 in Ostrava-Zábřeh into a working-class family. At the age of fourteen, he joined the Vítkovice Ironworks as an auxiliary worker. He witnessed the first and most tragic raid on Ostrava on August 29, 1944 conducted by the US Air Force. From January to the end of April 1945 he had to dig trenches for the Germans. He remembers the arrival of the Red Army in Ostrava-Zábřeh and heavy fighting with German soldiers. After the war, he received an apprenticeship as a lathe operator and then studied industrial engineering in the evening. Until his retirement, he worked in the Vítkovice Ironworks, most recently in the personnel department. Jaroslav Ermis in Ostrava on February 29, 2020.