Johann Löffelmann

* 1939

  • I had to go to a Czech school, without understanding a word of Czech. I still have my report card from that time, all bad marks. Why? I simply couldn’t speak any Czech. I just had to go to school without knowing a word of Czech, reading, writing and so on. Bad marks. My best marks were in PE, music and art. Weren’t there any German schools in Nýrsko at that time? Not at that time, the last German school was closed in May 1946 and following that everything was only in Czech. Who were the classmates? They were all Czech. But I learned Czech very fast, I even had to interpret for my mother when she went to any public office. And so I learnt very quickly and as fast as I learnt it I forgot everything again. I can still remember counting and reading from Czech books in Furth im Wald.

  • I only know that in May 48 there was a directive saying they wouldn’t be guarding the borders for the next fortnight or so and that’s when we moved out. We couldn’t bring everything with us, so we headed out with two lorries full of all the property we could fit and went to Neukirchen. Everything was unloaded at the border and the brother of my father-in-law, who was a stonemason from Neukirchen, loaded it all up on an ox-drawn-cart and temporarily stored it in Neukirchen. From there we went to the camp in Furth im Wald. On foot.

  • My mother and sister were made to work at a warehouse according to the motto: when three are eating, two have to work. The sales manager could see it was too difficult for my sister, and so she was sent out to empty farms in the countryside to gather currants, gooseberries and apples. Every day they drove her to a different spot with just a bottle of water and a piece of bread. Sometimes she was very scared. She was startled at every noise. Once she followed the sounds and went inside an empty house. There she saw scattered flour, food and destroyed furniture. Occasionally a cupboard door would come loose or a cupbord wall and that’s what made those noises.

  • I can still remember when we came back again, they brought a whole cart-full of German books and postcards to be destroyed. Us children jumped up on the cart and took some of the books down. Till this day I have three of those books with a German name inside. I still own those as well as several postcards. For us children that was something interesting. Then they destroyed it all.

  • Once we went for a walk in Nýrsko, my mother, sister and me. We walked past one of the villas and our carpet was hanging outside on the frame. And through the open window my sister or mother could even see our furniture. My sister was livid, she wanted to go inside at all costs and take that carpet. She said: “This is our carpet here, I’ll go get it, I’ll take it!” and Mum then told her: “That doesn’t belong to us any more, we’re strangers here. Leave it alone, they’ll just lock you up.”

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    Neukirchen b. Hl. Blut, Německo, 01.09.2019

    duration: 01:31:55
    media recorded in project The removed memory of Šumava
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We left Czechoslovakia twice, in the Czech school after the war I just copied by rote

Children in Nýrsko after the war (Johann with the hatchet)
Children in Nýrsko after the war (Johann with the hatchet)
photo: pamětník

Johann Löffelmann was born on 27 November 1939 in Nýrsko, at the time a largely German town. His sister was six years older and his mother was from Bratislava. He only knew his father from photographs, since he died as a Wehrmacht soldier on the Russian front in 1942. After the war they were not forcibly expelled, but decided to follow their relatives, joining one of the last transports in November 1946. They spent eight days at the Furth im Wald refugee camp, until their mother decided there was no point staying in such terrible conditions and returned with them to their empty flat in Nýrsko. They were able to get the furniture they needed and so continued to live in the post-war town among Czechs. His mother married a German antifascist. After the elections in May 1948 they made the final decision to leave completely. This time they crossed the temporarily unguarded border with a full truck of their belongings which were stored in Neukirchen, and then crossed over on foot themselves to the refugee camp in Furth im Wald. Johann trained to be a baker and settled in Munich. He remembers to attend meetings of witnesses, visits his town of birth and has a continued interest in his first homeland.