Werner Grubeck

* 1952

  • “Yes, the border was closed again. It was like before. I thought that they could have left the barbed wire fence up, now it would be better if it was still there. And in the Corona time, interesting things appeared. On the banks of Lužnice, the border river, large banners with phone numbers sprang up. The Austrians could order cigarettes from the Vietnamese bodega owners and they would throw them across the river.“

  • “At that time, Vindobona was the best connection via Gmünd, České Velenice and Prague all the way to Berlin. It was driven by an East German engineer. It was a whole train, not just the passenger cars I was there as the so-called LOCE, as Austrian engineers, we had to accompany [the Czech and East German engineers] them, the control board was not the same. The Austrian one was different from the Czech one. We had to tell those engineers what each signal means, for example, Stop or Go slowly. I joined the engineer in Vienna, he spoke German, and his first question was: ‚Buddy, do you have Kronenzeitung? (At that time, it was the No. 1 Austrian tabloid.) Here with it.‘ And up till Gmünd, he was reading through the paper.“

  • “The football players came to Austria and played with us. Because the sports clubs had a bit of extra treatment, that’s what we knew. And there was this interesting things. One of the officials told us: ‚I have five thousand schillings and I would like to buy a nice watch…‘ We wondered how come that he had five thousand schillings, it was a lot of [Czechoslovak] money, we had heard. Allegedly he has saved up and eventually he bought the watch.”.“

  • "Once we got an invitation of the football club and we went to Budějovice. The border control was a nightmare. We had to get off the bus, they checked the floor, screwed the stairs off... their explanation was interesting - that they need to check so that the Austrian citizens would not enter Czechoslovakia illegally."

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    Nové Hrady , 12.08.2020

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Locomotive engineer at the Iron Curtain

Before the draft to Bundeswehr
Before the draft to Bundeswehr
photo: Archiv W.Grubeck

Werner Grubeck was born on the 14th of March in 1952 in Gmünd in Austria. Until the end of WWII, his family lived in České Velenice (Deutsche Unterwilans in German). His father apprenticed in the local railway workshops, then he was drafted in the Wehrmacht and suffered an injury at the front. After the war ended, his mother, father and grandmother had to run away to Austria only with their personal possessions and a small wooden cart. Werner Grubeck apprenticed as a locomotive engineer and for all his life, he worked for the Austrian Railways. As a locomotive engineer, he rode often along the Czech-Austrian border. He was an indirect witness of several attempts to flee across the border. The passion of his life was and still is sport. As a young football player, he had the chance to play and trian with well-known Czechoslovak players, such as Ladislav Vízek, Antonín Panenka, and František Cipro. After the revolution, in 1990, he organised the first friendly match between Czechoslovak and Austrian teams of České Velenice and Gmünd. For half a year, he even became a coach of Czech footballers. Nowadays, he is a great fan of hockey and the HC Motor České Budějovice team. He loves to explore Southern Bohemia on a bike. His daughter is attending a business academy in Gmünd which is attended by Czech students as well. The 2020 Covid international travel restrictions reminded him, with some nostalgy, smuggling the cigarettes across the Iron Curtain.