Josef Kobau

* 1949

  • “They left us in the fields, brought us there, piled us out of cattle cars. We had no water, food or anything like it. I they had no idea where they were going. They dropped us off in the fields, Baragan that is fields, they dropped us off in that tall grass, the hay and left us there. That’s all I know… after a time we made ourselves buildings, helped each other out. They used those raw mud-bricks ‘kirpich’ as it’s said in Romanian.”

  • “We didn’t go there because we want to. They just loaded us up and drove off. Dad took a bag of flour, some rags, one box and I slept in that as a child. And my parents slept outside. They didn’t want to say anything, no matter how many times I asked Dad, Mum still said something.”

  • “It was enough to hear them – the people who stayed home – tell us we’d got a pension. It eats me up that we’re Baraganists – What did we do there to get a pension? I tell you, it eats me up inside. Everyone will say: ‘You are 'Baraganists', you got your pension and what did you do there?’ But if only I could show them what I saw there, they’d say nothing. I told them: Why didn’t you go too? We were sent there, we didn’t go out there because we wanted to.”

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    Eibentál, 09.09.2022

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Dad took a bag of flour, rags and one box, I slept in that in Baragan

Josef Kobau in September 2022, Eibenthal - Romania
Josef Kobau in September 2022, Eibenthal - Romania
photo: Post Bellum

Josef Kobau was born on 26 August 1949 in the Czech village of Eibentál (Eibenthal) in Romanian Banat. His father completed his military service during the Second World War and when Romania signed the Tripartite Pact, he was enlisted to join Nazi military units and sent to the front. After returning from the war, he married a Czech girl and they had a son Josef. In June of 1951 they were deported to the inhospitable region of Baragan, together with other families from Eibenthal. The family was to be settled in the area of the village of Însurăței, from where they were subsequently moved to the mining town of Comănești, where the father worked in the coal mines. The Romanian Ministry of the Interior only decided to allow them to return at the end of December 1955. At the time of their expulsion, the family property had been stolen. After coming back home, they lived in the mining colony of Baia Nouă (Ujbányje), where the witness completed four grades of Romanian school, followed by three more years in Eibenthal. He subsequently learned to be a lathe operator and returned to his place of birth, where he serviced the trucks hauling the mined coal to the Danube. He later became a managerial employee, which was also why he joined the Romanian Communist Party. After 1990 he was financially compensated for his deportation to Baragan and is also a member of the organisation that brings together and represents the victims. The witness is currently living in Eibenthal (September 2022).