Jakub Gregor

* 1930  †︎ 2017

  • "We had a nice cellar on the hill. Deep, nice. In winter, when it was freezing, it was warm there. It was beautiful - on the top of the hill. When we went to Přerov to find it later, we were looking for it but we didn't find it. I wanted to drink some wine there but there was nothing. There were bushes and nothing."

  • “The moving was rushed. We were only allowed to quickly reap the harvest and prepare it, then they loaded everything up on wagons and took it to Šternberk. From there they took it by car to Huzová, where they tipped us out, all on one pile, a terrible mess it was, we had seven or however many wagons. And we came there, and it was harvest time in Huzová as well, so quick, back to work. Except nothing had grown. The man who’d taken up the place didn’t know how to farm, so he didn’t have any yield at all. Back then, there were mandatory delivery quotas. You had that many hectares of fields, you had to hand in this much grain. But what when none of his crops grew? And so we had to give it from our own, we had to sustain him. Otherwise they wouldn’t have left us alone. They kept bothering us; they wanted the deliveries to be exactly according to regulations. So we had to fill it in from our own stock, so we could live in peace.”

  • "It was like that with the schools: Today when you study, you finish it. I got up in the morning, had breakfast and then went to school. Lessons finished and then home, have lunch and take the cow and go to the field to work there till dusk. I was tired, terribly tired: I was a young weak boy; there was no machine: We had cows, harrow. Everything manual. I came home, went to bed and slept. In the morning: ´Get up! To school, to school!´ But I hadn't had any time to write homework, Aufgabe. I had a German school. We had Czech school very little; at home we spoke Croatian."

  • "We had nowhere to go. The house burned down, so we went to Aunt, my mother's sister, who lived opposite the school. She was alone, her husband was in the war. We spent several days there. Then we moved to Uncle Rochus Gregor, my father's brother. He had a larger house, so we stayed there for some time. And then there was the expulsion. On 10 August 1948 we were put on trucks in Přerov and left for Novosedly. And then for Šternberk. They took us off the trucks - it was a mess. They were putting us on the trucks like pigs; they didn't do it nicely. A truck arrived and they put everything on one pile. There was one family which hadn't been working well, so the drove them away from the house and put us there. In two or three days the communists started to shout that there was the harvest. So we had to go to work: We didn't even have time to clean the house. We were very lucky because they had given us about eight wagons and we had been able to take with us everything we had. We ate that or otherwise we would have died of hunger. The people sharing the house didn't know how to work on a farm and they were hungry. So we fed them with our food. We had brought grains, cows, everything and it was our food. And then they wanted us to give them supplies, from 12 hectares, so they wanted very much. But there was nothing on the field, just stones - nothing had grown. So we had to give some food to the family."

  • “During the war we hid in the cellars. Everyone was afraid their house would burn down. The Russians were on the other side of the Austrian hill, and the Germans were here on the Czech side, where we were. And they shot at each other. If there was a fire, they might kill everyone off. It was dreadful. I was a schoolboy, the cellar was full of women. Not a single man, so I had to look after them. There was plenty of wine, but nothing to drink. I had to go to the village for water, to keep those people alive there. Well, but the shooting didn’t stop, so I had to hide so they wouldn’t shoot me – they did fire at me. I came home, we had cows there, pigs, I let everything out so they wouldn’t die of hunger. Who’d care for them when we were all in the cellars? So I let them loose, and everything was lost, the Germans took them, there was nothing left. We had a newly built house, and our roof burned down during the war. We had a lot of hay in the loft, and as they shot at each other, the hay caught fire and the whole roof burned down. Only the walls stood standing.”

  • "Most of Croats were moved to Huzová. Most of Croats; Huzová was most empty. But in a few years the old died and the young got married and left for work. And now, how many of us are there here? Four, five, six families. There aren't more, are there? There used to be so many of us. I drove a tractor. The old women used to work on a farm. We had a talk, laugh - I felt like at home as a boy. And now? There are no Croats here now."

  • "We were in Přerov and there was the harvest. We were scything the crops. There were no tractors and harvesters, just scythes. I, as a schoolboy, when I came back from school, had to take the scythe and I started working. I learned to use the scythe by watching my parents. I was twelve or thirteen when I started. So once I went to scythe the crops: It was necessary to do one part near the road and I was expecting Uncle Rochus, my father's brother, to come and finish it. So I was scything and scything; my mother and sister were following me and they were using sickles. And suddenly I heard a bang. Something banged - a mine went off. During the war the Russians and Germans had mined the field - but nobody knew about it. I was about twenty steps before them, they behind me, the mine went off: I saw nothing. I was standing there with my scythe and sister fell down. She lost a leg and an arm. So there was the end of scything. Uncle Rochus had horses and so we put her on the carriage and took her to hospital in Mikulov. But she had died before we arrived there. She had lost too much blood. There had been one finance officer who had helped to put her on the road. He had lost an arm too. The work had finished. I went home then. So we worked this way. Then I was glad that I was in Huzová as it is calm here. I am absolutely happy here. I do not recall those things too much."

  • "Everybody had to be a soldier. Hitler was strict, very strict. The Czechs did not have to go, but the Croats were told: ´If you don't want to go, you don't have to. But we will take everything from you and you will go to Siberia to a quarry.´ It looked as if Hitler was going to win. So they scared the men and they had to go to the army."

  • “There was one man there from Ostrava. He’d never seen a farm in his life, he didn’t know what it was. He just took the place. And because none of his crops grew, they evicted him and stuck us into the house. It was a ramshackle old building. We lived there for a few years before it fell apart of its own accord. We helped the original owner a bit with food, as much as we could, so he wouldn’t die of hunger. Soon afterwards he and his family moved back to Ostrava from where they came; they couldn’t stay any longer. He got a job in a factory. They weren’t bad people, but they didn’t know how to keep a farm, how it’s done. We’d had that knowledge since we were born. We were born knowing how to work a field to make it flourish. But those poor mites had never done it in their lives.”

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Huzová, 19.11.2010

    duration: 01:07:06
    media recorded in project History and language of Moravian Croats
  • 2

    Šternberk, 08.06.2016

    duration: 49:01
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

They moved many Croats to Huzová - so I felt at home.

Jakub Gregor 2016
Jakub Gregor 2016
photo: Eye Direct

Jakub Gregor was born in 1930 to a family of Moravian Croats. In 1937, he started attending a Czech school; a year later Sudetenland was annexed by the Germans and so his school became German. The time after the war was hard for him - his sister died working in the field after she stepped on a mine. In 1948 his family was moved to Huzová in the north of Moravia. They were one of the first Croatian families to arrive there. Jakub Gregor worked in agriculture for many years and then as a worker in Šternberk. He was one of the last Croats who remained living in Huzová.