Walter Sitte

* 1935

  • “Father then returned home from the American captivity; that could be in July or August 1945, at night. I remember that he told mom to pack and that we would immediately go back and cross the border. I remember that mom told him: ‘No way, we are not going anywhere. We have not done anything to the Czechs; on the contrary, we were on good terms with them and they will not do us harm, because they know that we had been persecuted by the Nazis.’ Dad succumbed to mom’s arguments and he thus had to go and register himself. He went to register, but he has not come back and I remember that mom then cried a lot at home, and so Mr. Podhajský found out that they imprisoned dad in Liberec and that they had beaten him so much until he lay unconscious, but that he was unable to do anything more and that we had to find some way to solve it by ourselves.”

  • “There was a certain turning point in 1944 when I was nine years old. Those who turned nine were – willy-nilly – made to join the Hitlerjugend. When I was told to join them – I think that they came to our house – my mom refused it. I remember that I threw a fit at that time because I was already picturing myself wearing a uniform. You cannot blame me for that, because show me a boy who does not like to play and pretend to be a soldier, right? I remember that one day we walked past a shop which had a Hitlerjugend uniform displayed, and I threw a fit in front of that shop.”

  • “I will not forget it for as along as I am alive. When we then went to the airport in Liberec to start the practical training, I was already standing on the ladder to the airplane, just on the point of climbing into the cockpit. ‘Walter, you are to come to the major.’ He was the airport commander. I went to him and he told me: ‘Well, you know, I am so sorry, but it is not possible. You cannot continue.’ – ‘But what have I done? To whom? I work hard, I signed the application, I will become a Party member...’ – ‘You are a German. Unfortunately. I have nothing against you, but you are a German.’”

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To live with the mark of Cain

The first day in school (1941)
The first day in school (1941)
photo: archiv pamětníka

Walter Sitte was born April 14, 1935 in Hrádek nad Nisou. He came from a deeply religious family. His parents were practicing Catholics and his uncle was a priest and his aunt was a nun. After the separation of the Sudeten region, Walter’s father refused the draft order to serve in the SS armed forces and he was sentenced to three years of forced labour as a result. After the outbreak of the war with the Soviet Union, Walter’s father was sent to the war front with a penal unit. He was severely wounded in combat near Stalingrad and after his recovery he was transferred to the western front where he then remained until the German surrender. He managed to escape from a transport of the captives and he returned home at the end of May 1945. Walter’s mother was bullied by the street leader of the NSDAP during the entire war and as Walter claims, it was mostly the families of Czechs living there who were helping her. As a child, Walter Sitte constantly had to deal with the conflicting issues between his Christian education at home and the Nazi-oriented education in school, including the enrollment in the Hitlerjugend. After the end of the war, the Sitte family was recognized as anti-fascists, but even though they held this status, Walter’s father still wanted to move to Germany. However, Walter’s mother refused. They continued to live in Hrádek nad Nisou where Walter’s father worked in a factory which produced threads. The family faced bullying due to their German nationality in the postwar period. They had to leave the house where they lived, Walter’s father’s salary in the factory was lowered, and his mother was not allowed to work at all. After being physically attacked by his schoolmates, Walter’s parents sent him to stay with his priest uncle in Radonice near Kadaň for a longer period of time. Walter Sitte apprenticed as an electrical fitter in the factory where his father worked. He became active in the Czech Youth Union and in order to be able to pursue his hobby - sports flying - he became a member of the Svazarm organization. In the mid-1950s he was confronted with the State Security, but he refused to cooperate with them. In 1956-1958 he did his basic military training in the Auxiliary Technical Battalions in the coal mines in Ostrava. After his return from the military service he married and he settled in Fulnek. Later he found a job in a quarry in Šumperk where he moved with his family. Walter had to face the StB again when the StB accused him of espionage. The persecution continued after 1970: he was dismissed from his job as a foreman in the quarry and assigned to work with furnaces for slaking lime. In the 1980s he attempted to establish the basic chapter of the Cultural Association of Citizens of the CSSR of German nationality in Šumperk, which brought about renewed attention in his person from the StB. After November 1989 Walter became involved in the activities of the Union of Germans in the Czech Republic.