Karel Fiedor

* 1928

  • „I was not seventeen yet, but there were even sixteen-year-olds. And one of the commanders arranged for the kids to get higher food rations. They called it OK, ohne Kraft, meaning without strength. It was [distributed] by date of birth. When Tonda, whom I met in the camp, and I found out that we could get OK, we burned our military papers and claimed to be a year younger, that we were born in 1929. That's how we got into the camp with the weak ones. We got one loaf of bread for sixteen people. It wasn't for overeating, but it was something extra.“

  • „There wasn't much milk to drink because it was sold at the market. Under the Germans, it was given away, then the communists came, and we couldn't use much milk for ourselves, because there were collection centres and contributions. And they were so hard because the communists wanted to start collectivization. They set such quotas on milk and on grain, that I would almost say that at the beginning we were starving under the communist regime, because they wanted us to join the cooperative farm.“

  • „We came to a family who accomodated us in their cellar. And the people said to us: 'What are you waiting for? There is no point in it. Run away. Twelve kilometres from here, there is the Elbe River and there are Americans there.' We hadn´t known it before. So me and Tonda Mazur, we ran away. With the rifles on the back, we walked across the fields to the Elbe. We got there. Water, no bridge, chaos. There were cars, horses, guns, food. We picked up some food and waited to see what would happen, because it wasn´t possible to go any further. Soldiers were going there, building pontoons. Then we were taken by a ferryman who kindly agreed. He picked up five or six soldiers on the boat and took us to the Americans. He wanted something in return, but it was rather symbolic, because on the bank he could pick up as much food, meat or fruit as he wanted. The soldiers who had ran to the Americans had left it all behind.“

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    Ostrava, 24.08.2020

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    Ostrava, 31.08.2020

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    duration: 03:00:37
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The Nazis classified us, Silesians, as third-rate Germans and sent us to war

Karel Fiedor / Třinec / 1960
Karel Fiedor / Třinec / 1960
photo: Karel Fiedor´s archive

Karel Fiedor was born on September 7, 1928 in an evangelical family in Dolní Žukov near Český Těšín in Czechoslovakia. His father worked as a carpenter and with his wife took care of the farm. After the Polish annexation of Těšín Silesia in 1938, they became citizens of Poland. After the outbreak of World War II, the region was annexed by Nazi Germany. His parents claimed Silesian nationality and spoke Silesian dialect. During the Germanization operation “German Volksliste”, the occupation authorities classified them as third-rate Germans, who were given German nationality for a trial period. His father was recruited into the Wehrmacht in 1943 and sent to the Russian front. The witness had to join the German army at the age of sixteen in the spring of 1945. They were heading for Berlin, which had been taken over by the Soviets in the meantime. He and thousands of other soldiers surrendered to American troops at the Elbe River, but eventually were taken up captive by the Red Army. He spent three months in a prison camp in Brandenburg. In the end he was released and managed to get home safe and sound. The family resisted forced collectivization for several years. Karel trained as a carpenter and later worked in the Třinec Ironworks. He worked as an electrical maintenance foreman in the rolling mill. In the 1950s he moved to Třinec-Lyžbice.