It was beautiful at home, it was unforgettable!
Maria Hartung was born on 23 January 1936 in Plesná near Františkovy Lázně into a family of music teacher and amateur musicologist Emanuel Böhnisch. In the last weeks of World War II, Plesná, being a German town, was bombarded by the American army, and the witness’s older sister, Heidi, also fell victim to the shelling. After the war, when rumours began to spread that the German population would be deported from Czechoslovakia, the mother would send little Maria across the border to smuggle linen and small belongings. Since she was a child, she would pass uninspected through the nearby customs office and drop off her modest possessions at their relatives. Although Emanuel Böhnisch spoke Czech and, as a teacher, could perhaps have stayed in Czechoslovakia, the family was deported to Germany in the spring of 1946. They ended up in Eichenzell, Franconia, where Emanuel Böhnisch continued to devote himself to his hobby of preserving the original folk music of the Cheb region. Maria Hartung was first allowed to visit her birthplace by the Czechoslovak authorities twenty years after the war, in the mid-1960s. In September 2022, Maria Hartung accepted the invitation of the mayor of Plesná and gave an interview for the Memory of Nations in the nascent Museum of Czech-German Relations in Plesná.