Elfriede Hannawald

* 1939

  • "The times were bad. We were all nervous. We just kept quiet. We saw the anxiety on our mom, she was exhausted and cried a lot. She never travelled, she couldn't even ride a bike, she tried it once to go to Přebuz but that was it. I think that she never went even to Nejdek. She didn't manage to learn to ride the bike. And then we had to move away. She had many children... and now she had to leave. A van came to pick us, I had never seen such a large car before. 'Dear God, what do I pack, what do I pack for those children?' Then she got the wedding rings, hers and dad's. We weren't allowed to take any gold with us and they would search people so mom sewed the rings in a pillow. Then she bake sweetbreads to take with us, we had to take some food with us because we did not know how long we would be on the road until we get back. Mom kept saying that we would return. Everybody hoped so, nobody wanted to admit otherwise. So she baked those sweetbreads and she wrapped them in wet kitchen towels so that they would last. We had those sweetbreads which meantime got moldy in Gunzburg where we were stationed in a refugee camp and we were eating those sweetbreads. Then we were in Freihalden in barracks and we got all sick. From those moldy sweetbreads. We had nothing else to eat."

  • "My older sister Lotte and older brother Ernsti went to school. I understood, so I understood, that he was in some group called HJ. He had a belt and he kept polishing goat milk so that it would be all shiny, and he used soda on the buckle. He always wore a shirt, sort of army style, and trousers too, and he often used to go somewhere away. In the evenings, I often heard that he came home and sister always said Do you need to go there? They often argued in the middle of the night, it was very loud but I did not know what the group was."

  • "We had two cousins, Ernstel and Franzi. With my little brother Albert, we were always together. When we were hungry, we went to mom and said 'Mom, give us bread', it was bread with jam that the mothers made themselves. And then we went to a little stream where many trouts were. There was a small bridge, too. The bridge was wide and we always went around barefoot, we had no shoes. I used to catch trouts with my bare hands. So did my brother Albert. And then, I saw a gun under the bridge. In a leather holster. I love water so I jumped in and fished out the revolver out of the stream and climbed out. Then Ernstel said: 'Give me the revolver.' No, I wanted to throw it away because our dad always said: 'Never touch any ammunition, never take it away.' But the boys wanted to see it, they took it out of the holster which was totally soaked. My brother told me, 'Elfriede, go aside, let me there, I want to see it and I'm going to take it.' Then the little Franzi, he was four, said: 'Throw it away, what did the parents say? To throw any ammunition away.' Suddenly, there was a shoot, Ernstl shot his brother Franzi. He fell on the bridge, there was blood everywhere, we ran home, it was not far. My dad came and slapped us: 'Go home now!' and mom called, 'Dad, grab a blanket!' Then they wrapped little Franz and carried him to Aunt Berta's. She was not at home so dad kicked the door open and put the little boy on the sofa. Then he found his sister who was nearby and told her: 'Berta, come home, something terrible happened. Your son is not among us any more.' It was horrible. And that's what I remember."

  • "Yes, Petříček lived at that house. He would often come to play with my brother. He was always nicely dressed, nicer than us. He was an only son. We had no toys so our Dad took an old tire and a stick and we poked the tire with the stick. Now, Petříček wanted this tire. He told his mother and she said that he wants the tire. My dad had told us: "Children, when the Czechs want something, you must give it to them. Only that way there'll be peace.' The the woman said that I should bring the tire. I said, 'No.' Then she went to our place, when the tire was in front of the house door, so she went in our flat, she had the Czech uniform and she had a gun, too. I knew what was coming so I jumped behind the corner of the house. The bullet missed me, I only heard its impact. Then I ran away. I hid in the woods. I did not dare to go in the house. They could have shot me. I was hiding in the woods and only after the sunset, I returned home."

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    Rehau, 13.09.2019

    duration: 01:31:19
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Krušné hory will stay in my heart forever. O Arzgebirg, wie bist du schie!

Elfriede Hannawald in 2019
Elfriede Hannawald in 2019
photo: Post Bellum

Elfriede Hannawald, née Baumgartel, was born on the 28th of June in 1939 in the community Sauersack (Rolava), today abandoned. Her father worked in the local tin mine, mother cared for a smallholding. It was difficult to keep the family fed in the harsh condition. In July 1946, the Baumgartel family was expelled and moved to Freihalden in southern Bavaria. Elfriede finished basic school here and started working, first in the well-known glove factory, Afira, in Burgau, then she moved to the mountains in the Allgäu area. She has four children, both her husbands were Germans expelled from Czechoslovakia. Her great passions are Cheb singing and music.