Josef Hocz

* 1936

  • „I still remember that there were quite a lot of nationalist tendencies. Football was played there. There was quite an intense cultural life. There was a theatre there, and towards the end there was even a cinema. Of course, football was played there and it was played from the pub. Everyone went to the playground, teenagers and adults alike. There was music and the adults were singing: 'Long live Szálasi and Hitler! Let's beat the Jews with a stick!' That's what they sang.“

  • „Then the war... One morning we heard a great boom from the cannons. There was a queue early in the morning. It grew stronger, closer and closer. So it passed through our village. Then the Russians were there. Our whole village hid. We had bunkers dug in the ground. We took everything we could there. It was only covered with twigs, covered corridors so that my father would somehow protect us. Almost everyone had that. We were afraid of the Russians. The queue passed and one neighbour dared to go outside. 'Come on, come out, they're not banting.' Then it passed. I saw the wounded there. I have that in mind. All blood, all bandages and being thrown on a wagon. That was a terrible sight.“

  • „They made an agreement, the powers, that the nationalities would be swapped. The Hungarian minority from Slovakia, specifically from Kameničná, were to swap with the Slovaks who were in Gerendás. So they caught us with the prosperity here. Baťa - shoes, they put posters everywhere in Gerendás. They caught us for that, but in the end they said we would have to go anyway. So my father agreed. They loaded us on wagons. They loaded us on V3S, took us to Bekešská Čaba, which was about twenty kilometres away, and there they loaded us on wagons. We were originally supposed to go to Kameničná. But the Hungarians did not want to vacate the houses they had built there. So we were already on our way, so they shoved us here to Jeseník.“

  • “It was an agreement between the two governments. I don’t know if it was under Gottwald or under Beneš. Simply put, they agreed to swap minorities. That the Slovak from Hungary would go to Slovakia and the Hungarians from southern Slovakia would take our places. Except it messed up somehow after a while. But we were already on our way. We had Slovaks come visit us to persuade us to move to southern Slovakia. For instance, we from Gerendás were supposed to go to Kameničná near Komárno, where most of the people from Gerendás live. In short, Slovaks, mostly teachers, would come to talked us into moving. They were well fed, well watered, and they talked.”

  • “They moved us in next door. To number 238 I mean. Except in the meantime Mum’s parents moved to Kameničná [in Slovakia]. About a year later we moved to live with them in Kameničná, and then came back again three or four years later. We got a house in Kameničná in exchange for our house in Hungary. Except there was all kind of bribery, corruption going on there, and they kept refusing to give it to us. Mum took us all and came back here to the Jeseníky. Then we lived in the Four [a part of Jeseník - trans.] for about two years – that’s at the entrance to the city – and then a place freed up over here by the mill. We moved three or four times.”

  • “When we used to take the pigs out to graze in Gerendás, we’d also play football there with a rag ball. There was a sweep well there. We’d pull each other up on the sweep. The boys pulled me up and then let go. I fell down on my arm from that height. It was about four or five metres. I broke my arm, my bones were overlapping. I’m still crippled in that arm.”

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Jeseník, 10.08.2018

    duration: 01:37:29
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
  • 2

    Šumperk, 31.08.2021

    duration: 01:51:16
    media recorded in project Stories of the region - Central Moravia
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

From the Hungarian lowlands to the mountains of Jeseníky

Josef Hocz in 2021
Josef Hocz in 2021
photo: Post Bellum

Josef Hocz was born on 20 July 1936 in the village of Gerendás in Békés County in south-eastern Hungary. His family was part of a community of Slovaks who had settled in the area in the early 18th century, when the country was still part of the Habsburg Monarchy, to replace population losses from the Ottoman-Habsburg wars. Under an agreement on the “exchange” of inhabitants between the Czechoslovak and Hungarian governments in October 1947, the family remigrated to Czechoslovakia. But instead of the promised destination of southern Slovakia, they ended up in the northern Moravian border town of Jeseník. Aged a mere 15, Josef Hocz was employed as a sawmill labourer, where he worked for forty-seven years, until his retirement. As of 2018, he still lives in Jeseník and is now probably the last living native of Gerendás to inhabit the Moravian borderlands.