Ewald Pechwitz

* 1938

  • “People started to see the end coming and I know they hid things under their floorboards, valuables and money. I have relatives who were there last year – I mean their children were – in Prague and on the way home they wanted to see the birthplace of their grandparents. The people there greeted them and said they’d been waiting to see who’d come. And they gave them what they’d found after renovating the house. It was a little chest with money in it – Reich and Rentenmarks. Both were valid currency all the way up until 1948 even here in Germany.”

  • “In that letter or notice it said that we had to be somewhere at five in the morning. And it said that any defiance would be punished by concentration camp, which was practically a death sentence. So nobody dared try that. But plenty of old people were so scared that a number of them committed suicide. I know there was an older farmer in my distant family, who hung himself. Those people just didn’t want to leave.”

  • “Not long before expulsion, immediately after the end of the war, the whole population had to gather together at least once in the Kravaře marketplace and we had to watch them brutally torturing former Nazi Party members and dignitaries. Everyone had to watch, even children. I was there with my mother and of course I was curious to see what was going on, what with all those people there and everyone watching something and I wanted her to lift me up to see as well. Terrible things happened there. For example they hung up one local farmer by the legs and let him hang there and apparently people’s own relatives had to hit the people who were guilty and if they didn’t hit them, they were beaten themselves. And sometimes they almost beat people to death for petty reasons. They found Wehrmacht blankets on one farmer’s land and thought he was hiding Germans. Above all, if they found weapons on someone’s land, that was an almost certain death sentence.”

  • “I went with my friends from school and one day we met a man going the other way, a stranger who was leading my sister by the hand. She was two years younger than me. Of course I had no idea who he was, we said ‘Good day!’ and wanted to keep going. And then it became clear this was my father, who we’d been waiting for, for so long. According to the documents I found, it was in March 1946 when he found us.”

  • “You hardly had enough time to pack your things. All you were allowed to take was what you could carry. You had to leave jewellery and any valuables, people weren’t allowed to take musical instruments. And then, at the border they checked everyone’s luggage again, and if anyone had any jewels on them, they were confiscated. They took wedding rings from wives. Everything the controllers thought could be useful, they confiscated.”

  • Full recordings
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    Pegnitz, SRN, 13.07.2020

    duration: 01:14:01
    media recorded in project The Removed Memory
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

Everyone had to watch them torture former Nazis on the Kravaře market square

Ewald Pechwitz, Pegnitz, 2020
Ewald Pechwitz, Pegnitz, 2020
photo: Natáčení

Ewald Pechwitz was born on 25 December 1938 in Kravaře in Českolipsko (Graber in German), to the family of the locksmith engineer Enrst Pechwitz and his wife Hilde, who worked on the family farm until the wedding. He therefore grew up in an almost exclusively German language area. When the Czechs mobilised in 1938, their father and neighbours hid in the mill, and in November 1938 they left for the Wehrmacht. His father was a scout and was deployed in France, Ukraine, Romania and Russia among other places. At the end of the war he was captured by the Americans. After being released he had no knowledge of his family and travelled to find work. After the war, in the Kravaře square there was at least one public lynching of former members and officials of the NSDAP, and the whole town was forced to watch including little Ewald. The Pechwitz family were then caught up in the first wave of the so-called “Wild expulsion”. They had to pack up their things almost over night and with only hand-luggage they travelled with an escort of Czechoslovak soldiers to the camps in Saxony. After the bombing of Dresden the camps were overfilling, there wasn’t enough food, they slept on hay. In the end the family was placed close to Weimar. Their father found them there in March 1946, and moved the family to Bavaria where Ewald Pechwitz studied, started his own car repair shop, married and has a daughter. He already visited his birthplace of Kravaře during the previous regime. To this day he goes back and is learning Czech. He is happy that the current owners are taking good care of the house of his birth and he is in friendly contact with them.