Jindřich Strauss

* 1939

  • „Old husbands from Brozánky, which were also enlisted for displacement, were saying: ,That is a mistake! It must be explained! We didn’t do anything wrong to anyone.‘ They got back – and there was a death penalty for crossing borders. Without any pardon. Dad and another guy were forced to dig their grave. Only then they understood what is going on. Granny took flowers, and a soldier told the old man to take his coat off, as it is a pity, so he at least tried to kick him to get revenge.“

  • „The whole dad´s family was left-wing oriented. When the Nazis took over Sudetenland, an inspector Köhler from Děčín called my dad and said: ,Stauss, how about you? You are not a founding member of the party, not a honorary member, you are not a member at all. Strauss, you´ll go work with your hands.‘ So dad went to tamp sleepers. Years passed and dad worked his way up, when Germans attacked Russia and dad said: ,So Churchill wiped the sweat from her forehead.‘ Köhler called him again and said: ,Stauss, you cannot keep your mouth shut, go back to the shovel!‘ Then the Germans needed rail man in Russia and Köhler called him the third time and said: ‚Strauss, you have a choice: Wehrmacht, or start working as a rail man in Russia and you get your function back again.‘ Dad accepted Russia, and until the Germans were in Ukraine, he served behind Dněpr in Šepetovka, at a station, where Korčagin wrote How the steel gets tempered.“

  • „At the end of war the Germans did not need any rail men in Russia. In April 1945 daddy had to march to the Western front to Karlovy Vary. He deserted along with three other soldiers; they took horses and rode back through the Ore Mountains. Near Cínovec they met the Russians; they even didn’t take their guns, just told them not to go any further. But the deserters were afraid of the civil folks, so they continued all the way to Chlumec to my dad and then separated. Dad got back home and though that Hitler won the war but suddenly he was the fucking German and had to wear a white stripe. I was only six at the time. I remember we stood at the railway station and father bought me a cherry cone and about twenty years old soldier came to me and asked me to give him the cherries. I just backed off and he turned to dad: ´He should give me those or else I´ll shoot him. Nothing would happen to me.‘ So he got the cherries.“

  • „At five o´clock in the morning someone always ran through the village and said who is being to displaced at seven. It was all so sudden, so people had no time to sort out or hide their stuff. Even our family once stood at the ferry in Žleb and was intended to get displaced. My mother turned to the customs officer Houška from Prostřední Žleb, if they don´t mind that she took a carriage for my year old little brother instead of a pram, and he wondered a Czech is being displaced. The commission got embarrassed and they began to force my mother to get divorced, which she turned down and finally they told us: ,Go home then!‘ We ran back and asked our neighbours to return what they took from our house meanwhile.“

  • Full recordings
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    Dolní Žleb, 01.06.2015

    duration: 02:02:21
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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My life had a lesser value after war than a cone of cherries.

P6010673.JPG (historic)
Jindřich Strauss

Jindřich Strauss was born on 29 July, 1939 in Chlumec near Chabařovice. He is the last surviving aborigine in Dolní Žleb in the Děčín region. He comes from a mixed marriage; his father´s family was socially democratic and at the end of 1930s he agitated against joining the Sudetenland to the Reich. The family spoke German, the witness learnt Czech in elementary school. He apprenticed a watchmaker. He devoted himself to the craft for thirty years and then ensured the statics sandstone massif in the Děčín region. Following the Velvet revolution he was shortly employed in a shop with sports goods and for six years guided visitors of Hrensko gorges. Until his fifties he was practising mounting climbing; since 1970 he lead the youth in Děčín mountaineering club.