Václav Hanf

* 1934  †︎ 2017

  • “We witnessed a horrifying scene in that second training camp. One Pole did something, I don’t know what, and then he escaped. I don’t remember what he did. Then he ran away. But they caught him. He was an older boy – I was among the youngest there – I think that he had a fight with one of the guards and ran away. But he was captured and they cut his head off in front of us as a warning to all. Execution, simply. We were told: ´Whoever disobeys and resists will end up in the same way.´”

  • “One of the boys who I stayed with came in and said: ´You’re to go to the commander’s office immediately.´ I asked: ´God, what have I done again? Don’t you know what he wants?´ - ´I don’t know, he just ordered you to go there immediately.´ So I went there. I came to the office and he says in Polish: ´Sit down here!´ I asked: ´What have I done this time?´ He says: ´Nothing this time.´ He took two photographs, placed them in front of me and asked: ´Wenzel, do you know who is in this picture? Do you recognize anybody?´ It was a group photo of our class. I was there, so I pointed to it and said: ´This is me!´ And I looked at the other picture and it was a photo of Mom and Dad. I said: ´And that’s my Daddy and Mommy!´ He slammed his fist on the table and said: ´By God, so it’s you!´ He knocked on the door and a woman entered the office and she told me: ´Venoušek, Vašek, it’s really you. It’s good that you’ve recognized yourself.´ With these two pictures I proved that it was me.”

  • “I was a naughty boy, very naughty. One day Dad sent me to the Šefendr’s pub for beer. He liked his beer from a jug, but he didn’t go to the pub very much, only if they had some get-together with the firemen or if there was a ball. A friend went with me, and when I came home with the jug, after a while dad called me: ´Venda, come here.´ - ´What is it, Dad? ´- ´Did you see the innkeeper fill the jug?´ - ´I did.´- ´Just that half a litre is missing. I wanted a litre and a half and I you brought just one litre.´ I was looked at him and said. ´Dad, Fanda went with me, and to be honest, we drank a little bit as we walked back.´ Dad said: ´So it’s not Šefendr’s mistake. But you come here!´ He bent me over his knee and I got slapped on my ass.”

  • “On June 10, on the anniversary of the massacre in Lidice, the destruction of Lidice, I was summoned to court! I had no idea why. Actually, I suspected something. But when they really told me this, I was mortified. They told me that the state would take care of the girl, because she was a kulak’s daughter, and that they would be relocated to a border region. That I did not have to marry her, because she was a kulak, and I was a child of Lidice. That the state would take care of the baby. When I heard this, I nearly broke into tears, and I told them openly that they should remember it was June 10, the day when I had lost my parents, and everything, my grandpa and grandma… And now I found a girl I love and we’ll have a baby and you are telling me that I am not allowed to marry her?! I absolutely disagree with that! They left and returned in fifteen minutes – the wedding was permitted.”

  • “When they gave us rifles, I didn’t want it and I put it down like this. I thought that I didn’t want to be a soldier, and I also said it out loud. I don’t know how it came to my mind at that time, because I didn’t know anything about Lidice, but I simply didn’t want to be a German anymore.”

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    Lidice, 26.07.2010

    duration: 02:24:51
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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I have lost my original family, and they didn’t want to allow me to have a new family

Wedding photo of Mr. Václav Hanf
Wedding photo of Mr. Václav Hanf
photo: soukromý archiv Václava Hanfa

  Václav Hanf comes from a Lidice coal mining family. His father, Václav Hanf, and his mother, Anna, née Kubelová. He was born on June 5, 1934 and had two older sisters, Marie and Anna. After the destruction of Lidice on June 10, 1942 Václav Hanf, Jr. was transported with the other children to Łódź. Thanks to his sisters he was included in a small group of children who were sent to Germany for re-education. However, they were first taken to Puschkau, Poland. Václav was adopted by the Strauss family, who had also adopted his sister Anna. His surrogate parents had problems with him, so eventually he was repudiated and sent to an SS camp in Oberweis and then to a Hitlerjugend training camp in Maria-Schmoll. After the surrender of Germany he was taken to an assembly camp in Austria where he was then found by a search group, one of whose members was Mrs. Josefina Napravilová. Since the siblings had lost both parents, they were taken care of by their relatives. Václav went on to live with his uncle in Hřebeč. He learned the electrician’s trade in the Poldi factory and when he was seventeen, he decided to join the army and become a professional soldier. He met his wife-to-be at that time. Their baby was on the way, but problems arose in Lidice. The people of Lidice opposed his planned marriage to a kulak’s daughter. He was even summoned to court (on the date of the infamous anniversary on June 10), where they tried to force him to terminate the engagement. Václav refused and the court eventually allowed him to marry her. He was however no longer allowed to study at the academy for non-commissioned officers and he was assigned to the Auxiliary Technical Battalions. When he returned to his family, together with his wife’s parents and their baby daughter, they moved to the Karlovy Vary region. Since then, Václav Hanf worked in various jobs. In the 1990s the Hanf family built a pension. He died in February 2017.