Dr. Walter Rochus Nachtigall

* 1931

  • „I was in a camp. I worked each day, every Saturday, Sunday and even holidays. We just kept working. Without any days off. Sometimes we had to work also the other shift. My number was 545. Nobody had a name, just numbers as it used to be in the camps. There in a camp was around 600 or 700 people. Mainly men from German villages in Sudeten. Many died in ironworks, as the work was rather heavy. I was a young and strong boy. Once in a fortnight I drove a small locomotive. There was an engine-driver and I was lining up; I connected and disconnected carts. I was very well off there. During a brake I would bring beer for the engine-driver. Once he said I´d sit in a cart. I didn’t know why. ‚Just go there!‘ He threw a piece of bread to me. A piece of his own meal. But nobody could see, that was how things were, because he´d be in trouble for feeding a German.“

  • „Nobody asked us, where we wanted to go. We got thrown out of a train, where we spent three days. We kept going on. The train would stop and go, stop and go. Then we happened to be in the North of Germany near Lübeck, but still a Soviet zone. We spent fourteen days in a quarantine camp. To get rid of flees and so on. Suddenly they told us: ‚Tomorrow you´re going away.‘ But we did not know where. Again we sat on a train and got out in the regional city of Ludwigslust, from where there was a discourse formerly leading rails to Hamburg, around thirty kilometres. After the journey from Ludwigslust to Dömitz a carriage was taken off in each station. Some people came to farmers, others would go elsewhere. We were in the first carriage, so we got as far as to Dömitz, where 5000 people lived. It was an old Mecklenburg little town at the river Elbe. There we were selected into individual houses. From the station they´d take us to the town by car, where we got off. They gave us a name... ‚You go there, you there and you there.‘ We had a small room for the four of us. There were bunk beds, a small table and a small cabinet. A tiny little place, not even 4x4 metres. It was a glazier shop. They had to give away a room. Those people, who lived there and had their houses, they all had to give away a room. They did not like it, but had to do so.“

  • „We walked along the road. It was a warm May. We already had no luggage. People threw everything away, as they could not walk anywhere carrying all that. No one knew where we´re going. There was no food, nor drinks. We walked along the road for some three or four days. We were not ready for anything like that. We had no stock. We were lucky to get picked up. We got food and were not so bad off. The national committee caught us. They said: ‚Here you work in the farm.‘ There was no: ‚Go to Reich.‘ We were lucky to hide there. There was nobody to beat us and so on, as it used to be in those days. Of course you know what´s all happened. Maybe the same would have happened us have we continued walking. We had to do our part of work, but also got food. They also cooked. There were mostly women. The farm provided everything we needed. We slept on straw. It was good for us. When I look back on it, we were still quite well off.“

  • Full recordings
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    Kladno - Hotel Sítná, 24.09.2015

    duration: 01:21:51
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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The time period a man lives in does not matter, but individual people you meet do

contemporary photo from 1947
contemporary photo from 1947
photo: archiv pamětníka

Dr. Walter Nachtigall was born on 6 February, 1931 in a German catholic family of Marie (née Langové) and Alfred Nachtigall in Horní Heršpice near Brno. He grew up in a borderline area, where most inhabitants were, same as the Nachtigallovs, bilingual. During a wold transfer they were interned from May till October 1945 in Hořesedly and then in Dubí near Kladno. In August 1946 they were moved in a framework of an organised transfer to Dömitz, where the witness began to study the middle school the same year and finished in 1950. Then he studied economy science at Humboldt university. He worked as a specialised advisor, a translator and a lecturer in the Economic Sciences Publishing House in Berlin and in 1974 he passed doctors graduation in the field of economy statistics. He devoted himself to translating from Czech and Russian privately. He published and participated in many popular-educational books with economic-scientific themes. He got married twice and has two sons and a daughter. He lives with his family in Berlin.