Josef Hubený

* 1937  

  • “Well, I witnessed the building of the border barrier. Within just a few days, they put in place the wires on the right side of the border. That was the Austrian side. After it was done, the Austrians protested. They said that they didn’t have the right to build it on their side. So the Czechs thought it over and came to the conclusions that the Austrians were right. So they tore it down and built the same thing on their side of the border. At that point, it was just a wire fence with no electricity in it. People would either cut the wire or crawl underneath it. The border guards would shoot at them but by then, they were usually already on the Austrian side of the border. So the Austrians protested again that they were shooting people on their territory. They said that they had no right to do it. So they thought again and relocated the wire again. They moved it by some 20 or 30 meters to our side so that when they shot somebody, they shot him on our side.” “And you saw this?” “We were following this. After that glorious revolution, when they came to power, they built the wires right after February and before they could move us out they had to do all of this here. We saw what they did, all the stupid things.” “It was built by soldiers?” “The soldiers built it for free, but it was an awful lot of work to do it. Well, and a few years later, they even perfected it further. The wire entanglement followed the real border within a distance of some fifty to one hundred meters. People had their plots and fields there, but couldn’t reach them because of the wire. Along the wire was a concrete road that was lit by lamps and they fed the electricity into the wire too. This made the Austrians protest again. They said that it is not normal to kill people with electricity and that it also kills a lot of rabbits and other animals living in the area. So they shut it off after a few years. That electricity was horrible.”

  • "Our [village] was a different situation than the other Croatian ones. Nový Přerov moved in 1948, and it was very difficult. We didn’t even know where they were sending us to, they refused to tell us until the last moment. Later we heard that the others, who’d moved from Jevišovka and so on, a year later, in 1949 or 1950, that they could go and have a look where they were being sent and that they could even chose. We didn’t have that option, it was a secret. And there was even a rule that there mustn’t be more than three families in one village, so the Croats would assimilate quickly, so they’d adapt to the Czech element and fade out without delay."

  • "There were many reasons for it. The area where the Croats lived was very rich. People were hard-working, and so they knew how to earn their sustenance, they were self-sufficient. They were able to grow a lot in the fields, and they bred animals at home, so they didn’t want for anything. Except after the war the Communists and the new settlers saw it, and they wanted to get hold of their property somehow. And then the main issue was political. To explain it somehow, they said that Croats are unreliable on the borders. That they kept with the Germans – or the Austrians, who were there – and that they spoke German with them. That was the reason. Well, why shouldn’t they speak with them, when it all used to be Austria-Hungary beforehand. There was no other state, our people lived there, went to school there, and so they learnt German and could speak with them. So that was a dumb reason to deport them, no? And another thing was that there wasn’t a hostile German, that is, Austrian state on the other side of the border, but there were Russian soldiers there until 1955. So that wasn’t true either. And these were the reasons given. Even though it wasn’t true, that’s why they deported us."

  • “So that was good. It's a shame that it ended in 1939. There began the great Croatian tragedy. The Croats got against their will to the Germans, thus they had to join and many were killed in the war. Up to three hundred thirty men from the three villages were killed. Who would voluntarily go somewhere to fight when he knew he would die there? So there began the demise of our minority. The men died and the Communists then had an easy time dealing with the women, children, the elderly and those couple of cripples, who returned from the war. They simply kicked them out. They could do anything to prevent it.”

  • "Nový Přerov began moving in August. Most people were deported the very first month, the rest followed suit in September. In those two months, more than a hundred families were moved, followed up by Frélichov and finally Dobré Pole. We got on well with the people in Paseka, it wasn’t their fault. They didn’t even actually know about it; back then I encountered the first big Czech scam of a person. And such a one that the person who lived in the house, Franta Dostalík, was lucky to survive. The others had it even worse, those who came to Huzová. What happened was that they’d come to a farm that had been assigned to them, but there’d been two, three ‘farmers’ there ahead of them, who’d stolen everything there was, not even the roof was safe, the windows were broken, and so on. They had to repair everything. Our house was okay, so we could set to farming straight away. We were very lucky. Those who were deported further up had it even worse. It was worse still in northern Moravia, from what I know, say, from Vojtíškov or Radkov. The houses there originally belonged to the Germans, who’d been deported, everything was smashed up and people had to start right from scratch. They first had to save the farm houses, which were completely ruined, and only then could they go back to actual farming."

  • “Of course that I had trouble. I had problems already as a kid. It started when I came to Paseky. We came during the summer holidays and after about two weeks I started going to school. The school was in the neighboring village, in Dlouhá Loučka. I had never been there and my parents didn’t have time to take me and my sister there, so we went there alone. Well my sister wasn’t with me then, I was there alone. I have no idea how it happened but somehow, I got into the wrong class room. It was the first grade. I only found out about it by the time the teacher had already registered me. So I decided to stay there for the day as I didn’t want to do any fuss about it and to go to second grade the next day. Then I found some friends from Paseky who went to second grade and I went with them. I came to the class room and by coincidence there was the same teacher as the day before. The same one who registered me for first grade. He looked at me, Hubený, Hubený, where are you from? I said that I was from Přerov. I just used the short name, Přerov, but he said ‘you mean Nový Přerov?’ ‘Yes, that’s right’. ‘But you already signed up for first grade, am I right?’ I said that he was right, but that it had been a mistake. He said: ‘well, three more days and you’ll have completed elementary school here’. On that occasion, he asked me for my nationality. I proudly said that I was a Croat. And those scoundrels started to laugh at me because they had never heard it before. They were malicious kids these kids from Haná. That was the last time during my childhood that I openly talked about my nationality. I would never tell anybody about it again. Now I’m over it, I openly and proudly adhere to my nationality because I think the Croats are better than the others.”

  • "At first they thought we were German. They didn’t understand us, and so later, when we got to know them, we told them who we were, where we were from and why they evicted us. After that they talked with us normally. Right from the beginning our women would go to church in their traditional costumes; the children ran after them and jeered that they were gypsies. And yet they were dressed so beautifully, but they didn’t understand. And we didn’t have any friends. That was probably the worst thing, that we’d lost our own, without even having the chance to say a proper goodbye. I had one very close friend, my classmate Petr Ivančić. I didn’t even say goodbye to him. We wrote to each other when I was to get married, in 1960."

  • “My dad was really lucky. Although it was so horrible to have to go to war, very few people knew that if you had a fourth child on the way, there was a particular regulation granting you a three-year reprieve from the war so that he could remain with the family. This saved his life. Because otherwise he would have to enlist immediately in 1939 and he would go to Russia, Stalingrad, from where he would most certainly not come back. Afterwards he served just here in Europe. He was deployed in Greece, fought against guerrillas, had the task of protecting the German stores. So luckily he survived. Then he was sick in the hospital and eventually ended up in American captivity in France. He spent about a year in the POW camp, then they sent him home and in Pilsen, he was arrested again and had to help with the reconstruction of the Skoda works that had been bombed. He returned home in 1947.”

  • “In mid-August 1948, we moved. By then some families had already been moved out, but this was the second wave which hit mostly the Croats. Those who didn’t even have their property confiscated but had citizenship. They were moved and nothing could help them, neither loyalty towards the state, nor citizenship. They checked that loyalty several times over. I found it in the archives. They checked about eight or nine times the loyalty of my father, changing their views all the times. Well, it was terrible. Maybe it was because we were related to the Hubený family who were related to Krajíček, the commissioner. So maybe he arranged it in some way but those above him took it away again. So this changed eight or nine times. Well, I was very surprised what I found in Mikulov. The district published a negative statement. The representative could change it. That’s what it was like. State reliability of citizenship.”

  • "Those so-called partisans were Communists, they didn’t have anything to do with real partisans. They just claimed to be them. The three of them were sent to Nový Přerov, they were allowed to do whatever they wanted with the Croats. The people who sent them here told them that the Croats were unreliable on the borders, that they’d fought for Hitler and that they were to be treated like Germans. That was the greatest possible mistake that was ever made. The Croats did fight in the Wehrmacht, but they had stayed in the Sudetes against their will. They didn’t want to fight for Hitler, but whoever lived in the Sudetes had to fight, otherwise his family would suffer for it. There was nothing you could do. But the worst was that these partisans, not just in Přerov but also in the other two villages, that they could do whatever they wanted with the people, and no one was allowed to say anything against it."

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    Šternberk, 16.08.2014

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    media recorded in project History and language of Moravian Croats
  • 2

    Šternberk, 17.06.2016

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    duration: 02:09:28
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Czechoslovakia didn’t help us Croats and later on, it even blamed us of not being reliable. This has to be explained!

Josef Hubený, 2016
Josef Hubený, 2016
photo: Eye Direct

Josef Hubený was born in 1937 into a Croatian family living in Nový Přerov. His father’s name was Tomáš, his mother’s Anna, née Slunská, the daughter of Tomáš Slunský, long-time mayor of Přerov. Josef Hubený was the oldest of four siblings. In 1942, he began attending school in Nový Přerov. The classes were taught in German as Nový Přerov was part of the Niederdonau province since 1938.  While in third grade, he witnessed combat operations taking place in and around Nový Přerov. Josef Hubený very vividly recalls the war days, as well as the period following the end of the war. In August 1948, his entire family was deported to Paseky in the foothills of the Jeseníky Mountains. He then worked as a project architect and later as a worker in Šternberk, where he lives until today. In the years  2007 - 2009, he was chairman of the Association of the Citizens of Croatian Nationality in the Czech Republic. He speaks fluent Croatian and takes great interest in documenting the history of the Croatian minority in Moravia.