Josef Exner

* 1939  

  • "We ate all sorts of things. Even raw potatoes or raw beet instead of apples. The baker in Hrabyne, Blazek, baked until the last minute before the fights started. People had a small supply of bread and that was it. I only have vague memories. I remember that I got a slice of bread when I went to schol. That was it. We had no idea what salami was. At home, it was mostly sauces for lunch. We had meat once a week or once in a fortnight. We had to eat what we got on our plate or else we would starve."

  • "When we started going to school after war, we got our clothes from UNRRA. We got underpants, t-shirts and other things. We had lost everything. In winter, we only had one pair of shoes each and we were allowed to wear them only to school. When we came back from school, we had to take our shoes off. When we want to ride the sleigh, we wrapped our feet in rags, slid down the hill and ran back home to heat up our feet by the stove. We could put the shoes on only when we went to school."

  • “When we were hiding in the cellars and Stalin's Katyushas, the rocket launchers, fired and it started, our house was razed o the ground. We dug our way through the cellar window, only our goat stayed there. From there, we ran to Trojka [smallholder Jan Trojka's]. And when we ran around the church, the tower fell behind us. Across the main road, we ran, to the cellar at Trojka's. There were really many people there. The main part of the cellar was directly under the house but the advantage was that there were side rooms. There was shooting going on above us. Russians and Germans were taking turns in holding the area above us. When Mr. Trojek went to check horses and walked out, a bomb fell there, Trojek was hit. We ran away from there, people fled to two sids. Ones went towards Háj and Opava, the other ran towards Budišovice. We got to a neighbourhood called Argentina and we spent the end of the war there. At night, we saw the lights of the fire. There are not that many stars on the sky as there were lights during the fight for Hrabyně.“

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    v Ostravě, 28.05.2019

    (audio)
    duration: 01:48:42
    media recorded in project Příběhy regionu - STM REG ED
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At night, we saw the lights of the fire. There are not that many stars on the sky as there were lights during the fight for Hrabyně.

Josef Exner. Ostrava 2019
Josef Exner. Ostrava 2019
photo: Petra Sasínová

Josef Exner was born on the 5th of November in 1931 in Hrabyně in the Opava area. He witnessed the liberation fights for Hrabyně which was one of the hardest battles of the Ostrava-Opava Operation. He spent seven days in the cellars with his family and siblings. The house where he was born was utterly destroyed. After the war, he became a member of the renewed Sokol organisation. During the 1950’s, he was a frequent guest in the Hrabyne House of politician, scientist and teacher Karel Englis who lived there in forced inner exile. After having served in the army, he worked in Foundry Engineering Co. in Ostrava. From 1968 on, he drove a bus for ČSAD [Czechoslovak Automobile Transports]. As a driver, he would drive organised tours even to the West, when he drove a truck, he got as far as Siberia. At the time of recording the interview, he lived in Darkovice in the Opava area.