Josef Petýrek

* 1937

  • "I went back home. At Glaserwald ,Stop – shooting‘. Allegedly some night-time shooting exercise. It would last until 2 or 3 o'clock in the night. So I took a detour, a shortcut, and stopped at the end of the forest. They had their targets stuck in the surroundings of the road. The silence there was beautiful. Then I started the engine and floored it. As soon as I did that the idiots started opened fire. I got very sweaty – even on my tie. But I made it through."

  • This is a story that was told to Mr. Petýrek by one of his colleagues. She originated in Prášily from a mixed family. Her father was German and her mother was Czech. She and her mother went from Srní to Prášily one day, but not on the road but through the forest. And when they arrived in Velký Bor, they were in the back of three men. And one of them said to the other guy: "Why do you want to kill her? She's got a child with her." He replied: "Because she's a Czech swine." It was her uncle. They were waiting for them. But they came from the back so they didn't notice them."

  • Mr. Petýrek remembers the recollections of a forester who used to work in Slovakia. But after March 14, 1939, when the independent Slovak national state was created, the aversions of the Slovaks towards the Czechs came to a head and things became tense there. The Czechs had to leave the country immediately to save their lives. "At night the local gendarmes came to their place and said: 'you have to leave right now. The Slovaks are loose'. So he had to take Liduška in his arms, Pepík by his hand, his rifle on his shoulder and they fled, leaving everything behind, even their hens and rabbits."

  • "The old man, Gažák, may he rest in peace, said: 'The war came to an end and they were told in Romania – all of you can go where you want. So they went to see the old gipsy and asked him – gipsy, you know the world best of all. Tell us where is the best place to live. And he told them – On Bohemia'. So they went to Bohemia."

  • "These people were true gold diggers who came to plunder and loot. I used to know one family from the Příbramsko region. They hung a bread crust on the chandelier and fought for it. He would come to the borderlands and six months later, he came back with his car loaded up to the roof. He brought back four motorcycles, all sorts of furniture and lots of other stuff. He stole all of this from the former houses of the Germans. They had to leave everything behind. The people left with 50 kilos of their belongings and had to leave the rest there."

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Hartmanice, 18.06.2011

    duration: 02:05:55
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

There was some shooting almost every day

Josef Petýrek in 2011
Josef Petýrek in 2011
photo: Jan Kotrbáček

Josef Petýrek was born on 26. 8. 1937 in Roviny in Brdy. It was here and in the near-by Drahlín – where his parents moved in 1943 – that he spent his childhood and the war years. He was predominantly raised by a local German forest ranger, Arnošt Schröder, who inspired his life-long attachment to nature and forestry. After the war, Schröder was banished and Josef’s birthplace fell prey to the military training grounds that were established in Brdy. In 1952, Josef passed a special training for employees working in military zones in Prameny, during which he had the chance to see Šumava. He permanently moved to Šumava in 1959 and settled in Prášily which is just a stone throw away from the state border. He lived a partly adventurous and partly troublesome life. The troublesome part was related to the coexistence with the border guards and the soldiers who had their training grounds and shooting ranges in the area. Sometimes, the bullets were flying literally above his head. The exercises on the shooting ranges also restricted the free movement of local inhabitants. He also witnessed firsthand the peculiar life of the new inhabitants who came from the east and took the place of the displaced German population. In 1956, he and his wife moved to nearby Hartmanice where they still live today. Mr. Petýrek has developed a keen interest in the history of the region where he lives.