Waltraud Kriegisch

* 1927  †︎ 2015

  • “During the war, we didn’t know anything about what was going on. Nobody told us the truth. They were telling us only the good things. The army is advancing, they are now already there and there, we shall win the war, and things like that. But regarding politics, we didn’t learn much about it while in the convent. We did have German classes. We were often scolded for speaking the dialect. The teacher was insisting that we use correct German, and not the dialect.”

  • “He passed the secondary school graduation exam, and he was to go to work for Arbeitsdienst after that. That’s where he got the typhoid fever. It affected his stomach and he suffered from terrible diarrhea. They sent him home, and he was seeing doctor Dresche, who treated him and gave him pills and everything that he needed. He recovered, but then in 1946 he had to go to the internment camp, and they were beating him there. He was emaciated to the bone, and he wasn’t even able to speak properly. He was not even able to look at us while we were eating. He could eat only potatoes and curd. He was eating it, but he was no longer able to stand up, he couldn’t stand anymore.”

  • “Mom was ill, Helmut was going to school, and so was I. We had a small farm. They sent us a Polish girl to work for us. Her name was Žofka and she was young. Dad was still at home at that time, Mom was in the hospital and she ordered us: ´When Žofka is in our house, she will be eating with you.´ This was forbidden. They were not allowed to eat together with other people, they had to eat separately. And he came with this Hatenberg to our house just at that time. They came to inspect how she was doing with us, and we were just eating and she was sitting at the table with us. They reported it immediately, and they wanted my mom, but it was not possible because she was in the hospital, and Dad had to join the army right away. He was gone within two days. They realized that he was a good fitter, and thus he was sent to nearby Mikulovice, to the camp in the Muna factory. He was working there, repairing the machines, but he was not allowed to come home.”

  • “We were going at night. We were pulling the sledge up the old road which led to the Červenohorské Pass. There were no cars at that time. Who had a car? There was only Jasan in Domašov, he had a car, but he didn’t drive at night. There were no cars and we were riding the sledge at night. What a ride! We had three or four sledges and off we went. We would start from the pass and go all the way down to the post office in Domašov. We were able to ride that far. And even at 2 a.m. we would pull the sledge to the pass again, and go down one more time. What a ride it was!”

  • “She arrived to Olomouc and the leader asked her if she knew at all what the Germans had done during the war and how they had treated other people. He didn’t want to tell her where he was. She said to him: ´You don’t have to tell me. I’m the one who knows most about it. Where is the boy? They have helped me, and now I’m going to help him.´ The leader replied: ´He’s not here. He is in the hospital in Olomouc.´ She went to the hospital and asked about him there. She found him immediately and he was so happy; both of them cried. She told him: ´Helmut, don’t be afraid. You’ll get home now. I’ll take care of everything. I’m going to speak to the head doctor.´ The doctor told her: ´Listen. In two weeks I got to send the boy back. But he is not healthy. He is seriously ill. I cannot tell you everything about his state, but if you want to help him, go home and get a statement that he is urgently needed at home in order to work in the forest or in the agricultural cooperative. It doesn’t matter, but I need a confirmation signed by the village administration office that he is requested to go home to help there.´ She returned for the confirmation, the head forester gave it to her, and not just for Helmut, but for all of them. All of them got this confirmation. She arrived there and they had to release them, because they were needed for forest work here.”

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    Bělá pod Pradědem, Domašov, 26.03.2012

    duration: 02:32:41
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Even in the attic we could hear the women screaming

Waltraud Kriegisch in March 2012
Waltraud Kriegisch in March 2012
photo: Vít Lucuk

Waltraud Kriegisch, née Nitsche, was born in 1927 in the Filipovice hamlet (Philippsdorf) which is located under the highest peaks of the Jeseníky Mountains and which at that time formed part of a much larger village Domašov (Thomasdorf). Both her parents were German nationals, as was the vast majority of people in the area. In 1938 the family moved to a nearby remote settlement Drátovna, where they spent the war years. Her father Josef Nitsche had to join the wehrmacht. He was working as a fitter in the ammunition factory in Mikulovice (Niklasdorf) until the end of the war. Her only brother Helmut had to join the RAD (Reichsarbeitsdients), a paramilitary labour organization. He contracted typhoid fever while there and he was sent home for treatment. When the Soviet soldiers arrived to Domašov in May 1945, he was taken to an internment camp in Hodolany in Olomouc. He got out of there thanks to the help of their Jewish neighbour, Esti Gepertová, but he died a year later as a consequence of the hardship he had suffered during the internment. Since the father, a fitter by profession, was needed for the village, the family has not been forcibly relocated to Germany after the war. Mrs. Waltraud worked as a forest worker and in 1961. She married František Kriegisch, who is likewise of German nationality. Waltraud died in 2015.