Bruno Grötschel

* 1935  

  • “As a child I was not scared at all. At that time there were air raids here and there, but we did not mind at all. We were playing outside when the sirens sounded, and at first there was always a preliminary air raid warning, which was signalled by three long sounds of the siren. When the second and third was sounded, we knew that perhaps that would be an alarm. But these preliminary warning signals were sounded when bombers were approaching Berlin, so that the people would get ready and anticipate a possible alarm. But many times it happened that the group of airplanes then turned and flew in a completely different direction. The warning was then called off and life continued as usual. What was the worst was when the group of airplanes kept flying on, and then after a while a real air raid alarm was sounded, and that was signalled by a warble tone of sirens in the duration of one minute. And that meant that you now had to go and find some place where to hide.”

  • “I wanted to ask why your mother actually went to denounce herself?” – “Well, the reason she did it was that they knew about her, the Germans were no amateurs at that time, they had everything planned precisely and they had information about everything and they knew everything. Therefore they knew about every family. And when my mother then went and denounced herself when my brother was to go to the army and she did not want him to go, she said: ‘Look, I am a Jewish woman and he has nothing to do in the army.’ In this way she redirected their attention to herself and they started surveillance on her and they also started looking for some information about us so that they would have something to penalize us for. It was merely a reaction if she had not told them that she was a Jewish and my brother would have gone somewhere to the war front and got killed there. Because they were usually being sent to the eastern front; not many soldiers went to the west. And newspapers were full of notices about those who got killed there. And my mom therefore did not want him to be sent there. That’s why it happened and why they were after us.”

  • “You had to be afraid even when you just went for a walk. I went with my brother and we walked through the town. The wind was blowing and we just automatically walked through the middle of the road, because if you walked close to the houses, which had been burnt out, a brick might fall on you. And as we were walking, a large block of the wall suddenly collapsed about twenty metres in front of us. Had we walked a little faster, it would have fallen on our heads. So the danger was always there.”

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    České Budějovice, 26.03.2018

    (audio)
    duration: 01:32:11
    media recorded in project The Stories of Our Neigbours
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It was a miracle that we were able to meet again as a family

Bruno Grötschel 2018
Bruno Grötschel 2018
photo: Eye Direct

Bruno Grötschel was born on February 13, 1935 in Rumburk. His father was a German and his mother was a Pole of Jewish descent. Due to the situation in the borderland after the rise of Heinlein’s supporters to power, the Grötschel family moved to Berlin where they spent the entire war. Bruno experienced a number of air raids and one of them destroyed the house in which they lived. When his brother Waldemar was to be drafted to the army, his mother decided that she would rather denounce herself than have her son sent to the eastern front. After she had informed the authorities of her Jewish origin, she was sent to a concentration camp and her husband and other children were sent to do forced labour. The whole family was reunited again after the war and they decided to return to Czechoslovakia. Bruno Grötschel completed an air force academy and he was employed in the army for his entire life.