Hedvika Hurníková

* 1926

  • “I was born in Hora Svatého Šebestiána. I come from purely German family, all my ancestors were Germans. My granddad was a postman. He retired in 1925 and my dad took over him. He came from Výsluní. They had already had a child before me and I was on the way. They had no work so he got the job after my granddad.”

  • “Well, there were such guys, everyone 'heil Hitler, heil Hitler.' My brother was four years old so he repeated that. And one of them said to the boy, my mum was with him: 'You are not allowed to say heil Hitler, you have to say heil Moscow.' Now imagine, the child has no idea about that, if he said that what would come out of it. Or the teacher at school. If she didn't start with that, children probably wouldn't.'Well, Walterová, how did you like the Czech school?' You see, I didn't know whether to say yes or no. Because I thought to myself if I said yes, I liked it and it was true, it would mean bad to me. And if I said no I would be telling lies. There were so many such things.”

  • “The school was German there, about six classrooms and only one classroom was Czech – all eight years were in one classroom. And so was I, I was the smallest one and the youngest one. I went there for four years till 1932 and then I went to German school for two years. Well, and because my father was a civil servant and all the Czechs from there used to meet at our place in the evenings, they learned German from my father and he learned Czech from them. And the postmaster's wife – they were a young couple without children but they would love to have some – she sat down with me on the floor and so I was always growing up in a bilingual environment. She was playing there with me... And she dragged me with her to the Czech school, I was going to kindergarten already. So I attended kindergarten, then the Czech school for four years (till 1936) and then the German one for two years. I went to the German school from 1936 onwards but then – my father got into trouble as well because he took me from the German school in 1938 and enrolled me in the Czech one.”

  • “It was in 1945. They drove everyone... There were ordinances that all Germans aged from fifteen to about sixty or seventy had to come at nine in the morning at... there was an Evangelical church at that place where the public bath is, there was a church. And there is a field so they were asked to come at that field and had to have food for two days or I can't remember any more. It stands on the ordinance, I still keep it somewhere. So it had nothing to do with us any more because we, even if we didn't have the citizenship yet, we had a safe-conduct on the house door that nobody could harm us. And my father was in Heřmanka. He carried on working. The Germans who had to leave were replaced by Czechs but my dad was very popular and everybody liked him. They used to call him just 'granddad, granddad.' My uncle worked for the railway at that time, but not the one who was in concentration camp. It was another uncle. He lived in Spořice. And he, were it not his nosiness, it had nothing to do with him, it had to do with those from Chomutov. And he heard that they were announcing something at the railway station. Well, he went forwards so that he could hear better and then he was taken as well. And there was simply a massacre. First of all they had to take their shirts off and put their hands up in order to show if they had tattoos, if they were SS (Protective Echelon). Well, those were obviously killed on spot. That's war, you see. The end of war. That's what you can understand somehow! But what I heard from those who survived it – if they just killed them you would understand that but they tortured them in an unhuman manner. They for example, oh, I cannot even say that. They lit some newspapers and put it at their genitals. Can you imagine that? And they trampled on them till they died. It must have been awful. I am not... Well, all right, it's gone, it's gone. But then they drove them through Jirkov up to Horní Jiřetín or so across the border. And there was a village Nová Ves. They shot all those who couldn't any more on the way, so many people were said to have lain along the road. And when there was someone looking out of the window they were shooting at the windows. They all had to withdraw. And it was about a three-kilometre-long march, it must have been a lot of people. They stayed lying there and they were supposed to take them over. And there were Russians there, they had occupied the whole east Germany. And then the mayor said: 'No, no.' That he wouldn't take them. And they lay in the heat on the road all night long. He got his motorbike and went to the Russian task force and brought so many of them. And they discussed what to do with them for three days and three nights. Some of those who were ill were placed in the cinema. And the women from Neundorf (Nová Ves) used to bring them some tea or water, potatoes or bread secretly. Well, some of them like... OK, many of them survived that but not even a half of them. Well, and then they came to the conclusion that they had to go back. So they were supposedly happy they would go home. No. They came to Záluží. It was altered into a concentration camp there. A wire fence all around and they worked in there. And the uncle of mine was there as well. And my aunt was heavily pregnant already. And the women could go there and pass them some food over the fence.”

  • “But before the beginning of the school year constable Beran came to my father and said: 'Mr. Walter, take your family at my acquaintance's to Klánovice by Prague, it's getting hot here on the border.' So our father took us there. My brother was four years old at that time and I was twelve. Well, we were in Klánovice then. He took us there around the end of August, I started going to school there right in September. But I can't remember exactly if it was a fortnight or three weeks after the beginning of the school year but a policeman came simply on one day. And he said: 'All those who come from the border area, back immediately.' My mummy was always frightened so she packed our stuff and off we went. The train was only to Chomutov. My mum's cousin lived there so we stayed overnight and then walked home. My mum was dragging a suitcase and my four-year-old little brother. My mum's cousin lived at the hillside, he was about eighteen or nineteen years old. He went with us, I remember him as a guy with a boy on his shoulder and with a suitcase. When we came to the waterworks we saw some German cars. They were silently waiting there for the command to occupy the town Chomutov. My mum's cousin started being frightened and he said: 'Good God, I have got my identity card.' He was a Communist but I had no idea about that. I even didn't know what a Communist was. My parents, the whole house, my granddad, uncles, my parents, all my relatives were Social Democrats. And I didn't understand that very much. I remember that we were sitting in a ditch and he went to the wood in order to dig it in. He was scared if he had not been seen by anyone, well, we simply went through a horror. Yes and I also remember that a soldier from a car gave my brother some apples. And he said 'děkuju' (thank you) in Czech. The soldier replied 'was?' and my mummy said: ' Well, you see, we are on our way from Bohemia. He is only a little boy, he can't understand who a Czech and who a German soldier is.' So they let us go home. And we came home in Nová Ves. We had some relatives there. I remember that we dropped in on them and they started crying and they said: 'Germans, too.' They all had garlands... they were welcoming the German troops. Well, they got all the way to Chomutov. They came even to them. They came in a while and said: 'How come there are no garlands hanging out on your house?!' Well, it all repeated again. And I was terrified what would happen when we come home.”

  • “And this is our house in Šebík, it actually belonged to my grandfather. As my uncle was the last one in the house they moved him with his family out into the inland at a farmer's. And they were still at the railway station, they were allowed to take everything with them but what, what? Only the most important things, of course. All remained there. They were still at the railway station, they broke the windows and they stole anything they could. And the house was still standing there, four or five more years, till about 1950. Of course it started decaying, look, new eternit. Then my mum went there blueberry picking one day. She passed by, we didn't live far from the wood. She saw two lorries, they loaded them with eternit and beams. They simply demolished it and built somewhere else again.”

  • “They haven't done anything to anyone except for our house. They arrested all the men and put them in Šebík. Then we women were there alone, children actually. It was my brother, my cousin and myself. And two officers moved at my aunt's. My aunt had to cook our food for them, she didn't get any money from anyone, they had nothing to eat themselves. And she slept... they slept in a double bed here at the window. And here used to be a kind of a narrow sofa. And she used to sleep there with her boy. And they told them to go to school, there was a school canteen in the courtyard. And children used to go there with pots, you would never see adults there. My cousin and I, my brother was too small at that time, we went and some children were driving us with stones away. We came home crying, it was a horrible time. If I should tell you all about 1938...”

  • “I remember that we watched TV together all day long and we were keeping our fingers crossed. I don't understand politics very much but my husband was rooting for it. He was ill. But we were rooting for the students sitting opposite the soldiers. When remembering it I can't help myself crying. We cried and kept our fingers crossed. And when it ended up well, we were happy. My husband was Czech and I have three sons and of course that they set up their own business right away...”

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Pec pod Sněžkou, 23.12.2005

    duration: 01:35:09
    media recorded in project Sudetenland destinies
  • 2

    Chomutov, 01.09.2009

    duration: 13:34
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
  • 3

    Chomutov, 18.08.2015

    duration: 02:08:11
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

My daddy used to say: I will not inform on anyone

Portrait former
Portrait former
photo: Archiv pamětníka

  Hedvika Hurníková, nee Walterová, was born in the village Hora Sv. Šebestiána in the Krušné hory (Erzgebirge) on April 13th, 1926. Her parents were German. Her mother’s ancestors came from Sv. Šebestián. Her father married into there from a nearby village, Výsluní, in the year of Mrs. Hurníková’s birth. Her father was a postman, her mum earned some extra money by making bobbin laces. Mrs. Hurníková attended a Czech kindergarten and then a Czech primary school in 1932-1936. However, the majority was German there (especially children of civil servants). Finally, she attended a German school in 1936-1940. Mrs. Hurníková’s family was of social-democratic thinking. Her father, uncle and granddad were all active Social Democrats. They were all persecuted after 1938. Her uncle went through several concentration camps, her father was arrested for a short while, after which he lost his job. After two years of unemployment he got a job in Mannesmann Factory in 1940. Soon he had a work accident as a result of which he lost his leg. Having moved to Chomutov (Komotau) Mrs. Hurníková shared one room with her parents and a younger brother for five years. She stitched buttons in a large tailor workshop and she got the total appointment order (Totaleinsatz) in the firm Herold in Chomutov in October 1944. She got married in 1946. Her husband came to Chomutov from Vítkovice, they had three sons. From her 50’s till her retirement she worked as a chief accountant of the wage department in the supermarket Pramen. Since the 60’s she has been an active member of the Cultural Association of German Citizens. She has been the chairperson of Chomutov subdivision of this Association since 1989. She has been a member of the National Minority Committee by the Municipal Corporation of the town Chomutov since 2003. In our selection Mrs. Hurníková represents the Germans who were allowed to stay. Whereas most of them either came from mixed marriages or belonged to important specialists, the family of Mrs. Hurníková is ranked among the few Germans who were recognized as anti-Fascists by the Czechoslovak authorities.