* 1934 †︎ 2015
“At first, they wanted to expel us as well. But my parents worked in the laundry room and they first had to train the new workers. Eventually they left them to work there.” Interviewer: “Did a lot of people stay like this?” Witness: “Some stayed, especially those who hadn’t been in any political party. Workers, poor people were left in Czechoslovakia.”
“He was guarding the prisoners. They didn’t let him go to war because he was wearing glasses and was shortsighted and a bit obese. But he had to watch the prisoners. When the war was over, the black men came, freed the prisoners and beat up the German wardens. When they wanted to beat up my father, the Russian prisoners shouted: ‘no, not this one, he was good to us’. He had compassion with them because he saw all people as equal. He would give them food when there was any. They had it good with him. So the blacks didn’t beat him up but they put him in an internment camp. They put all the wardens in uniform they caught there in that camp. It was really bad in the camp – it was cold there and they were given almost no food.”
„Hitler was travelling from Munich and he was passing through Aš. I stood by the road and watched. My parents lifted me up and we watched him passing by in a car. I still remember that moment.”
“Our teachers were very strict. Whenever we met them in town, we had to greet them by proclaiming: ‘Heil Hitler’. Even if you held a bag in your hand, you still had to greet them like that.” Interviewer: “Did you have to greet them in this way in school as well?” Witness: “No, not at school, in the city. After it was all over, they were too scared to step out on the street.”
“He moved to Germany on his own. His wife was expelled. Well, it wasn’t his wife yet but he followed her. I haven’t heard about him lately. He allegedly lost his memory and we don’t know in which nursing home he is to be found. We have no idea. He was a lot older than me, he must be around 90.”
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They can’t forget about the place where they grew up
Elsa Gabrielová, née Bergman, was born in 1934, as the daughter of a German family in the frontier town of Aš (Asch). She spent her childhood in Aš and the surrounding villages, which were inhabited mostly by German-speaking populations. Her brother was drafted to the Wehrmacht and had to go to war. He probably survived only because he broke his arm. Her father was imprisoned by the Nazis and was put in jail again after the war. Contrary to most of her German relatives, her family was not subjected to forced resettlement after the war and was allowed to stay in Czechoslovakia. In the 1950s, Elsa married Adolf Gabriel, who was German as well. In 1957, they settled in a little village called Mladoňov in the Šumpersko region, where her husband was born. She died in 2015.