Katharina Schopf

* 1933

  • “It was a nice village, and clean. The people were hardworking. All of them were Croats. And Germans? I can’t say that there were any Germans. Perhaps two or three, not more. There were not many Czechs either. I don’t even know who was a Czech there. Jáně, uncle Jáně, was Czech, he was a large farmer. But we all got along well. It was good, nobody argued with anybody. We also had one Jew. Germans then took his property. His name was Fritz Schiller, he was a good man. And we spoke Croatian there. Depending on the situation, but most of the time we spoke Croatian. But children can’t speak Croatian anymore. They understand a few words, but they won’t learn the language. When mom said: ´daj hlapca spat´ in Croatian, and he went to bed, and then when she said it again, he said: ´Nix hlapca spat!´ He already knew that it meant that he was to go to bed.”

  • “And when your father was drafted, you remained alone with your mother?” “One day mom went to the village council and requested that father return home for harvesting rye. But the secretary told her, ´I can’t do this, but I can provide one man from the captives.´ My mom says: ´What would I do with some strange man? I want my own husband.´ He told her: ´You must not even say that you don’t want him to join the army, you know. That would be dangerous.´ Eventually he sent two women who came to help her. Mom was scything the rye as a man, and the women were picking the straw. They toiled really hard.”

  • Our Father, who art in heaven hallowed be thy Name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

  • “In 1946, when some Croats were being displaced, did you already know that you would be moved as well?” “Yes, we certainly did. We were told we would have to leave. There were still these Croatian issues, but nothing was solved by it. Someone from Yugoslavia even came here. They were discussing what to do and how.” “And when you had to move, you didn’t know where you would go?” “No, we didn’t know anything. We arrived to the railway station in Troubelice and the farmers there were choosing us as if we were on a marketplace. We went to the farmer’s with whom we were supposed to work. We stayed with one farmer, but later his farm got confiscated as well. He then lived in Uničov. He asked us why we hadn’t told him that we wanted to escape to Austria. Well, but can you really tell somebody that you plan to escape? He’d turn us in and get us arrested. You think you can tell such thing to somebody? He himself then learnt what it was like if they take everything away from you. He was a large farmer, he had two pairs of horses and two farm servants. It was a large house. We took pigs and geese with us, everything else remained there. We only took our beds with us. And the geese and pigs. We left the cows there. I don’t know who took them. It was terrible. It was the All Souls’ Day, we dug out the potatoes, and our mom was crying, her eyes were full of tears. At that time I had my hair cut short, I used to have plaits before, and the farmer told me: ´If only your dad saw you!´ Because dad liked my plaits. The farmer said: ´He won’t see you anymore!´ He probably didn’t even think that we would run away and that dad would see me again. We then came to Starý Přerov, it was the time of the harvest festival. We went to the feast and daddy was dancing with me and crying. He was so happy that we had arrived. Poor daddy. He was dancing and crying at the same time.”

  • “Christmas? We were happy if we had nuts and apples on the Christmas tree. There was nothing else. There were no Christmas cookies during the war.” “And what did you eat during Christmas?” “Fish. Or a bunt cake. We had tea and bunt cake in the evenings. Singers were walking through the village and singing carols. They walked all the way to the cemetery and sang there, too. Boys were throwing snowballs at them, and they even broke the lantern of one of them. They were laughing. They were young.”

  • "I went to school in Nový Přerov. I began in 1939, until 1945. We had a German and then a Czech school, but I was good at Czech. Because sometimes when we played with the children we spoke Czech as well. So it was easier for me."

  • “My name is Kateřina Schopfová, I was born in Nový Přerov, and I also went to school and to church there. My parents were farmers, peasants. In 1945 the front stopped in our village. The Germans were on a hill on the left, and the Russians were on a hill on the right, in Austria. The Russians were shooting at our village. Our house was the first one to burn down. It was new house. It was built in 1938 and it burnt down in 1945. Where were we to stay? Daddy had had to join the army, but he returned home right after the war ended. We had a barn, and inside there was a pantry for storing rye and wheat. So we took all the things out of there and began living in that pantry. It was five by four square metres. That’s where we lived. Then an order came that we all had to move. At that time, daddy and grandpa, my mother’s father, were still with us. Grandpa had however died before they moved us out. Dad then said that this couldn’t be, that they couldn’t just take everything from us and move us away. He owned two hectares of fields in Austria and he therefore went to a farm in Starý Přerov. Dad was already on that farm when they came for us. They made my mom and me get on a truck which took us to the train for Novosedly. We had to get into cattle trucks and we rode to Troubelice, which is all the way beyond Olomouc, to one farmer’s place. A local policeman then came, warning us that since we had no citizenship, we were to go to Mikulov to get one. That if we didn’t have it, somebody might come and take us away, and he wouldn’t be able to do anything, because we had no nationality. I had no nationality, my mom did, but since I was too young, I was somehow registered under her name or what not. Dad didn’t have any citizenship, either. Dad had joined the army and that’s why later his property was confiscated. But why? He hadn’t done anything, he only joined the army. He had to. If he hadn’t complied, they would have shot him. So they took us to Troubelice, and then we were to go to Mikulov to get the citizenship, but we didn’t even go there, because we went straight home to Přerov. Grandma said: ´Come, daddy is already waiting for you on the field behind the borderline.´ Thus we went, I wanted to run, because I saw two policemen walking by. But they thought that we belonged there, since daddy was already there. These men were good policemen, the old ones. They knew us.”

  • “Easter? My mom was colouring eggs. One year I ate lots of them and they were afraid that I would be sick, but nothing happened. During the war you couldn’t obtain these egg colours, and so we used onion skins instead, the eggs turned brown. Or we boiled them with coffee and they also got a nice brown colour. Mom would then decorate the Easter eggs by scratching the surface, drawing flowers and so on. She found time for it. During Easter we would go to church to kiss God. God was lying on the floor, the cross was laid on the floor, and we would kneel and kiss it. Well, it was not hygienic if somebody had cold or flu. But nobody minded. That’s the way we did it back then. It’s not done anymore.”

  • "They took us by train and loaded us into a cattle wagon. They took us to Olomouc, where there were farmers waiting for us. One of them picked us out, he was kind to us. It was just Mum and me. Dad was in Austria. He told us to stay at home, surely it couldn’t be that they’re take everything from us, that we’d have to leave. They didn’t believe that. So he said, you’ll go to Austria any way. Except they’d deported us by then. Then the gendarmes came, saying we didn’t have any papers, any citizenship. So we were to go to Mikulov to get our papers. We went to Přerov, and then straight here, to Austria. We only took what we had on us at the time."

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Laa an der Thaya, 09.10.2010

    duration: 01:03:01
    media recorded in project History and language of Moravian Croats
  • 2

    Mikulov, 17.06.2016

    duration: 43:39
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Come, daddy is already waiting for you on the field behind the borderline

Katharina Schopf
Katharina Schopf
photo: Pamět Národa - Archiv

Katharina Schopf was born in 1933 in Nový Přerov in a Croatian family. Her father had to join Wehrmacht during WWII. As result, her family was deprived of rights and property after the war, and was forced to move away from the border region. In 1948 her mother decided to flee to neighbouring Austria where they joined their father who had fled before. After, they lived in Alt Prerau (neighbouring settlement next to Nový Přerov on the Austrian side of the border). Today living in Laa an der Thaya. Well known for her commitment in Croatian renaissance after the fall of the Wall.