“When the war broke out and the Germans attacked Russia, in autumn, in October, they announced us one week in advance that we would be relocated by a special train, but they didn’t tell us where. We even felt happy about it, because many of the people wanted to leave the place, because the Germans were already sixty kilometres away from Lipetsk, and the front came to a halt there. A week later we thus boarded the train; sixty families were put into one train car. It was terrible. They used the wooden train cars, it was called ‘nary’ in Russia, with wooden planks. We rode for almost a month, the whole month without two or three days. When we reached the train junction in Kurgan in Ural, from which one of the tracks went down in the direction of Kazakhstan, we learnt that this was not where we were going and that we were going to Siberia instead.”
“He (father) worked as a mason and then in 1928 and 1929 the crisis in Czechoslovakia began, and it was especially bad in the regions up in the north… He went to work in a textile factory, but he hated the job, being a mason in the factory and handling the threads and all this, as he used to say. He decided: ‘I need to find a place to do my profession.’ They were hiring workers for Russia at that time. There were twenty-one people from Czechoslovakia who went to Russia in 1930. In 1931 dad came back and persuaded us to go there with him. He said that they had special shops there. Otherwise there was poverty and hunger, but according to the contract which was given to these foreign workers for four years, they had guaranteed jobs and they had special shops available to them. And so we went there.”
“In Tatarsk in Siberia between Novosibirsk and Omsk they suddenly told us to get off the train: ‘You have reached your destination, you can now get off the train!’ But where? There was snow, a lot of snow, it was in November. We thus stepped into the snow and waited there. Those who had feather-duvets with them, used it to cover themselves and stay warm – I remember that somebody’s bedding even caught fire, and we, boys, made fun of it. But when I think of it now, it was a horror. They took us to a little house. The villages were further away from the train stations, it was a distance of some ninety or hundred kilometres… and each village had a person with a horse and a little house by the train station. So this was where they brought us. There were many of us in that small house. We slept outside, because the house was so full that those who were inside could only stand on one leg during the whole night. When I woke up, there was snow above me, but I felt warm, and I was not cold at all, although it was actually freezing.”
We received a two-week visa for our return to Czechoslovakia, but it took us a month just to reach Moscow
František Hanisch was born October 2, 1928 in Mařenice. In 1930 his father František responded to a job offer to work in Russia on the construction of blast furnaces. He worked in Donetsk, Dnepropetrovsk and Dneprodzerjinsk. In 1931 František Hanisch and his parents and brother, who was eight years older, travelled to Dneprodzerjinsk where they lived for one year. The family then stayed in several other places in Kamensky, Tula and Lipetsk. In 1941 they were relocated from there to Tatarsko in the Novosibirsk area. František’s brother Ervín taught German and Russian in nearby Shekhman near Michurinsk during that time. This town was already not included in the zone from which the relocation of people was ordered. The Hanisch family lived in a hamlet near the village Kozino and they worked in agriculture. In February 1942 their father was taken to a labour camp to the coal mines in Leninsk-Kuznetsk, and František’s mother Marie was then transported to a labour camp in Novosibirsk a year later. Ervín joined the 1st Czechoslovak Army Corps and he managed to appeal to the Czechoslovak ambassador in Moscow Zdeněk Fierlinger and eventually arrange his father’s and mother’s release. Ervín suffered a serious injury during the fightng at Dukla where he served as a second lieutenant. František Hanisch and his parents returned to Mařenice in 1946. He learnt the carpenter’s trade and in 1950 he began his basic military service in the Border Guard units. He served in Bělá nad Radbuzou. His superiors persuaded him to remain in the army and he then served in the garrisons in Hřensko, Děčín, Maxičky, Rumburk and Mařenice. A Soviet advisor selected František as his translator thanks to his knowledge of Russian. The service for this officer eventually brought František to Karlovy Vary, and after his leaving the army he got a job there in Hotel Imperial where he continued working until his retirement.