Albert Iser

* 1946

  • "They came in at one or two o'clock in the morning to see - the day before leaving – if you had everything at home. Because what people did was they stuck their ID on the curtain, sold everything off and never came back. So, they always came to check. And the second time... it made me so mad. A policeman from Jáchymov came, I knew him, we were on first-name terms in the civilian life. Hazucha, cop Hazucha. And he came at eleven o'clock at night. And I was ready to go in the morning. I had a [Škoda – trans.] GLS 120 back then. I was ready to go, so I went to bed. In the morning at four o'clock we were going to go, Ichenhausen, Aschau, Bad Tölz, to go around all this. A policeman at the door: 'Good afternoon, Mr Iser.' I said: 'What good afternoon? Eleven o'clock in the evening?' 'We have a search warrant from the prosecutor.' And that he's going to see if I have everything at home. I let him go through everything. And then I grabbed him by the collar, and I held him by the collar all the way from the first floor of the house, and I kicked him the whole time. I threw him out in front of the house, kicked him and said, 'Get out of here. Cause I'm gonna hit you. And if you don't fall, I missed. And get out!' And now I come home and Jana, my wife, says: 'Look, we're not going anywhere. There's a criminal police here in a minute and you're gone.' Well, but nothing happened. Although I'm sure I was followed again afterwards, that's for sure."

  • "The Germans who worked on the shaft in various professions, such as dynamiter, locksmith, carpenter, blacksmith, roofer, did not pay rent or electricity in their houses. So, we didn't pay rent or electricity or water for our house. And they still got a monthly ration of coal. Because the uranium mines had nothing to do with coal, but there were so-called rations. About the earnings. When there were payrolls, they made a lot of money. That was huge, huge money that they were making. My dad could buy five [cars] Octavia, five Felicia's out of every paycheck. Not the current Felicia, but the Felicia of that time. The Felicia cost nineteen thousand, he brought home seventy thousand. And a Felicia with a tilt cost sixteen, seventeen thousand. Or an Octavia, that cost twenty-one thousand, he could have bought three. But in those days you couldn't buy a car just like that, you had to have a permit. For example, if you were rated the best worker in the mine, you got a document and you could buy a car with the document. But unless he had a permit or some merit, nothing. And that's why they mostly all, to put it in words, drink away the money. They finished work on the payday... Or on the ninth of September, Miners' Day. So, they went out and, dirty as they were, they called taxis, Volgas, six hundred three. They threw a helmet in one, flashlights in another, and got in the third one in their dirty jackets and drove to Pupp. There they got drunk, broke everything, paid for it and went home again. Yeah, so that's how they lived. Money was nothing to them in those days. And in the1953, when there was currency [reform – trans.], I remember that, because I was in first grade, there were thousands [crowns – trans.] flying everywhere. There was money everywhere because there was reform and it was changed 1:50. And then if somebody brought a hundred thousand to change, they didn't get a crown. So, they lit cigarettes with those banknotes and tore them up and threw them around. So, we weren't really in need of anything at that time, because dad had the money. Every month we got what was called 'Russian rations' because the Russians owned everything. Uranium was exported to Russia as a compensation for the liberation of the Czechoslovak Republic. So, they were getting this kind of gifts of food, they called it 'Russian ration'. A kilo of chocolate, a salami, Prague ham in a tin. Or a ten-pound bucket full of jam. So, we'd eat bread with marmalade... And what we didn't have, we'd exchange for chocolate. That's how we did business. That's how it worked."

  • "That's how it started in that class. Then when I moved on... There's a story, I laugh about it today. In the classes, because there were a lot of us - I was in B and there was A, B, C - there were at least thirty, thirty-five kids in each class. And on average, about sixty, seventy percent of the whole number were Germans. So even in the corridors we were talking to each other in German. And one of the teachers, I don't want to name her, because maybe she still lives in Abertamy, caught us talking German together. So, we had to write a thousand times: 'I mustn't speak German'. And then the revolution came, this one... And she lives in Abertamy, nearby the cemetery. I have a sister buried there, my parents, my dad, my mom, so I go to the cemetery all the time. And I see she had a big sign across the house saying 'Zimmer frei' [room available – trans.]. At the time, it p…ed me of, and today I just laugh about it."

  • Full recordings
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    Karlovy Vary, 18.03.2023

    duration: 02:38:43
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th Century TV
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I feel like German but I behave like a man

Albert Iser wearing a bus driver's uniform, 1970s
Albert Iser wearing a bus driver's uniform, 1970s
photo: archiv pamětníka

Albert Iser was born on 5 April 1946 into a family of Erzgebirge Germans in the village of Hřebečná. His father Josef Iser worked as a miner in the local mines, his mother Marie, née Kraus, was employed in a glove manufactory. His father enlisted in the Wehrmacht during the war and served in Norway. After the war, the family spent three months in an internment camp, but were not deported because of their father’s profession. The uranium mines in the Jáchymov region were in dire need of skilled labour. In the meantime, however, the Isers’ house in Hřebečná was occupied by settlers and the family was moved to nearby Abertamy. Only German was spoken at home, and after starting school Albert had problems because he did not speak Czech. After finishing primary school he trained as a glove maker. During his basic military service (1965–1967) he got his bus driving license and worked as a driver for the ČSAD in Jáchymov for the next twenty-five years. After the invasion of Warsaw Pact troops in August 1968, he drove a bus covered with anti-occupation signs for a month. As a German, he was not allowed to drive the bus on trips to the GDR. During the period of normalisation, he applied for emigration six times, but due to official delays he never got all the necessary documents. In the 1990s, he took a job as a locksmith in the Jáchymov mines, where radon water was pumped for spa purposes at the time. In 2014, he underwent successful surgery for a brain tumor. As a flag bearer, he participated in mining festivals across the country.