Konrad Micksch

* 1938  

  • “During that wild expulsion, they started moving our neighbours and the other German inhabitants out of their houses. To that she said (the house manager) that we had nothing to fear, because we were on good terms. It took a while longer. Then one August morning they banged on our bedroom door, screaming loudly. We quickly started to get dressed. While we were getting dressed, four people ransacked the room – they grabbed the jewellery, my tin soldiers, all the toys and sweets. Then they chased my aunt down the stairs and finally kicked me out as well. My aunt caught me, otherwise I’d probably have had quite a bad injury hitting that concrete floor. Then we got on a hay cart and were driven to the school in Maršov. There they searched us. I managed to quickly and unobtrusively grab a piece chocolate and take a bite. The rest was taken from me by some woman who gave it to her boys, who were sitting behind her. I wanted to react, but my aunt stopped me. When we’d lost everything we had, they loaded us onto a truck. There were already a few people there. On the back of that truck we drove to Staré město (Old Town) near Trutnov, to what was previously the concentration camp Oberaltstadt (Upper Old Town), it belonged to the Rosen concentration camp group. The camp was still just as the Germans had left it.”

  • “There were always roll calls in the camps. During these roll calls, Czechs and Slovaks would come and choose healthy men and German women, who left by the office and were never seen again. Twice, those people wanted to take my aunt away, but without me. After all, I was the only boy there according to their records. My book also shows a record of how many children under 15 were there. There was one only child and it was me. One day the partisan lady came during visiting hours. She walked up to the barbed wire and had to hand over a few apples to the soldiers guarding there, then she threw us a bag of apples over the fence. I thought that was great.” – “That was the house manager?” – “Yes, the house manager.” – “And was anyone else allowed to visit you?” – “No, Germans weren’t allowed to visit anyone.” – “And who was guarding the camp?” – “First of all it was the Czech police. Then things were quite calm and normal. The police were from the region. Later, the camp was handed over to the revolutionary guards and things started to get uncomfortable. For example you’d get hit with a rifle stock for looking the wrong direction, things like that.”

  • “One day it was me and my aunt’s turn. Two Czechs arrived with a man with a red armband. They wanted to take my aunt away and leave me there. But the man with the red armband said: No, no. He was adamant that if they wanted to take my aunt away, they had to take me as well. I later discovered that the whole thing was negotiated like at a slaver’s market. The only difference was that the slaves in the USA were auctioned publicly, while here the farmers were secretly bribing the police and guards otherwise they wouldn’t get the person they wanted. And so we were sold like slaves to the Maršov II farm.”

  • “What did you do at the camp, when you weren’t working?” – “A signal rang out every morning as an alarm. We had to get up and they checked to see the rooms were empty. Then we went to the mess hall, where we got water or slops and a few slices of bread. Then we could hang out in the yard. Then there were line-ups, so a roll call where you had to be standing, but you could move about the area freely. At the wall in the direction of Úpa there were two toilets where we had to take turns.” – “What did the toilets look like?” “They were latrines, whatever went in them ended up down in the river. There were containers and those containers were then emptied into the Úpa.” – “What did you get to eat and drink?” – “That depended.” At noon it was usually soup, very watery, in the evening I can’t really remember anymore, usually bread and salt. I was very hungry there.” – “Where did you sleep?” – “In the building, as I said, on bunk beds. I slept on the top bunk with my aunt. There were about twenty people in that room.” – “Was it just the one building or were there more?” – “More. At the time I was there, there were 500 people, which is the planned capacity. But sometimes there would be up to 2000 people there for short periods of time.” – “How many buildings were there?” – “Three buildings for men and two for women.” – “And where were the guards?” – “There was barbed wire around the camp and at the front there was a villa with the police offices. There was also a flat there for important people. My grandfather also lived there, in that villa. We always saw each other at roll call.”

  • “You said you were taken from Mladé Buky in cattle cars and that you had almost nothing on you. What were you allowed to pack?” – “One thing was important. My aunt had absolutely nothing with us on the farm. In Svoboda nad Úpou at our uncle the baker’s place we had some things, so we took blankets and all sorts of stuff. There was no checkup between our arrest and arrival at Mladé Buky. So we had blankets and I also had a warm coat. Those were the things we got on the train with. So it was a bit of luggage, whatever we could carry. The powers above decided it was supposed to be 35 kilograms, on the spot it ended up 25. My aunt had fifteen and I had ten.” – “What could you fit in that luggage?” – “Food, drink, underwear, one pair of shoes, a coat and shirt. I can’t remember anything else, the backpack was full anyway. And the pack itself, of course.”

  • “I heard that there was some kind of restitution in the FRG, so expelled people got some kind of financial compensation. Was there anything similar in the GDR?” – “Not in the GDR. But when we joined the FRG, people who were made to do forced labour got 4000 German marks. Because I was also able to apply for them, I got them too.” – “How did you have to prove you were made to do forced labour?” – “It was enough to make a statement, the paperwork I submitted with my aunt had to contain some information about the labour done. And so because I was able to describe everything perfectly, Maršov II and other details, including coming to the camp, they accepted it. So a detailed description was enough.”

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    Dresden, 18.06.2021

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    duration: 01:56:28
    media recorded in project The Removed Memory
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I was the only child in the Trutnov concentration camp

Konrad Micksch, Dresden, 2021
Konrad Micksch, Dresden, 2021
photo: Konrad Micksch, Dresden, 2021

Konrad Micksch was born on 16 December 1938 in Liberec, but after his mother’s death he grew up with his aunt and grandfather in Horní Maršov. His father Franz wandered around the world as a travelling salesman, his grandfather had a pub in Maršov, where Czechs and Germans would meet. His grandfather was also a member of the town council representing the German inhabitants. From May 1945, Konrad experience several unpleasant events including an incident with Soviet soldiers in their pub. Initially in July 1945, a Czech manager was assigned to their pub, in August they experienced expulsion first-hand. They were transferred to the former concentration camp in Horní Staré Město (Upper Old Town) of Trutnov. Konrad was the only child under fifteen to be interned there. People from the camp were selected for work. One day his aunt was also chosen, so Konrad went with her to work at the Maršov II farm. A while later his grandfather managed to get him moved to their uncle’s in Svoboda nad Úpou. This uncle owned a bakery there and was already looking after Konrad’s brother. In Svoboda, Konrad also attended a Czech school, but understood almost nothing there. In the end even the baker’s family was expelled, to a former textile plant in Mladé Buky. There he once more met his grandfather and aunt. A few weeks later, the family was deported from there to the Soviet occupation zone of Germany, near Gera. Here Konrad continued with his school studies and in 1946, after five long years, he met his father who had fought in the Wehrmacht. After graduating secondary school, Konrad Micksch entered the East German army, distance studied electrical engineering and later business administration at the Dresden University of Technology. He entered the East German Communist Party (SED) and from 1961 he was employed at the Elektroprojekt manufacturing company, administering projects for power stations and other facilities, including abroad. Since 2013 he has enjoyed frequently returning to the Czech Republic.