Jarmila Štěrbová

* 1931

  • "We were at a crossroad [in Zábřeh], a corner house, the first entry road to Ostrava. So we experienced a lot during the liberation. Suddenly at night the shooting started and lasted until morning. The Germans hiding in the Hulvácký Forest needed to fight their way into the Bělský Forest, which stretched through Zábřeh, where a Russian commando was. Then they climbed of the canals and the fighting began. In the morning the fifteen-year-old girl [the witness refers to herself] saw dead soldiers lying next to each other in the garden. It affected me so much that I don't think I'll be able to recover my nerves till the day I die. What happened there that night. That was a terrible night. And since our street was mainly exit road to Výškovice, German women [were going], their [German, trans.] corpses piled on the flatbed trucks - as they had thrown it there haphazardly. It was all taken past our house to the cemetery."

  • "Those cousins of his [dad´s] were Germans. They served at the front. My mum even told me later how their mother proudly showed a decoration from Hitler. Because her three sons had died at the front. Well, my mum couldn't understand it at all. She was completely shocked. How could a mother be proud that her sons were dead, and proudly show her some blood-stained military card."

  • "I remember we had a crystal radio at home. It was a kind of aerial, there was also a box and earphones. And there I heard about the whole occupation, how the Germans were occupying the Sudetenland. Well, of course, my parents were deeply sad about it. They had already been talking about it at my grandma's house. The feeling that they were crossing our borders... Well, it made me wide-eyed when my dad said there was going to be a war, or that it was coming. They used to talk about it with my grandma or my mum and I'd always listen. So I remember being pretty shocked when it really happened. And then I remember that during the period following the Heydrich´s assassination we were warned at school not to talk to anybody in the street and not to tell stories. Not to talk about anything that was being talked about at home. Dad had a map above his desk and he was always watching how the front line was going, but otherwise the war was not talked about in front of us. And even if there were Czech friends who suddenly became Germans, we all continued to sled together as kids. Well, not with all of them. I know of two - one spoke normally Czech, but his family joined the Germans. But otherwise, we didn't differentiate it much as kids."

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Brno, 24.04.2021

    duration: 02:01:08
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

Think with your own mind

Jarmila Štěrbová in her youth
Jarmila Štěrbová in her youth
photo: Witness´s archive

Jarmila Štěrbová, née Mertová, was born on 19 March 1931 in Ostrava. Her father, Julius Merta, was originally a Catholic priest and later a lawyer. She grew up together with two other siblings. She lived through the horrors of the war, especially during the liberation of Ostrava, when their house was taken by the Germans. She became aware of the consequences of the communist coup in February of 1948, especially in connection with the fate of her cousin Karel Lanczik, a pilot of the legendary 311th Czechoslovak Bomber Squadron of the RAF. After the so-called February Victory, he emigrated with his English wife. The communist regime immediately stripped him of all his ranks and declared him a deserter. The witness herself was then prevented by the regime from pursuing her education. Because of her faith, and because neither she nor her husband had joined the Communist Party, her son also had difficulty to be admitted for studies. At the time of filming (2021), Jarmila Štěrbová was living in Brno looked after by her family.