Jan Wallstein

* 1942

  • "I found out from my mother, whom I met later, that she used to have to go to work and put me in a weekly nursery along with my cousin Joachym. And when we got transported because of the air raid, my aunt Liesel took Joachym, but when she wanted to pick me up, the officials wouldn't let her, because I'm not her son. So they left me on the train. It was bombed on the territory of the Czech Republic by Soviet troops, from what I could find out. Fifty percent of the children died. Those of us who remained were wounded and it was to be said that that we had mainly been escorted to England, to Russia..., so that the Germans would lose their children."

  • "When I was working with the preservationists, we had a job to do in Jičín, where the court was moved from Hořice in Podkrkonoší, where my adoption had been carried out. I went there to have a look at the documents regarding my adoption, and I found one document that clearly showed that in 1952 my permanent residence in Peiskretscham, today’s Pyskowice, was cancelled. So the communists had let me be adopted by people who knew they were moving me two to three hundred kilometers away from where I lived. They let me live with a family that had nothing to do with me. They simply took me away. And then I was unsatisfactory to them. When I found all this out, I started, even if it doesn't sound very nice, to hate the communists.”

  • "I finished eighth grade and started studying at a stonemasonry school. During the first year I was so indignant that I wanted to go back to the children's home, because my step-father was a former member of the National Security Corps and had various policing tricks up his sleave. I said that I either wanted to leave, or go study and live in a boarding school. So I lived in a boarding school for practically the entire three remaining years – the second, third, fourth grade before graduating. I used to visit them once a week to get clean socks, clean underwear and a clean shirt. That was all. I was given very little food, even if I refused to eat, the pantry would be locked for me. So if I didn't want to eat, they would say: 'Go ahead and be hungry.' Such were their manners. At the age of eighteen, when I was at boarding school, I was asked if I agreed to the annulment of the adoption. So I said, 'Well why not?'"

  • "She (his mother) claimed that she looked for me for seven years, but to no avail, and so she gave up. But I think that every mother should not stop searching until she finds her son dead. That's my opinion."

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Hradec Králové, 09.11.2021

    duration: 01:55:14
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

Kluk z vybombardovaného vlaku našel mámu po 23 letech

Jan Wallstein at the age of fourteen
Jan Wallstein at the age of fourteen
photo: Archiv pamětníka

Jan Wallstein was born the 13th of February 1942 in Peiskretscham in what was then Germany. When he was three years old , he was put on a transport that was then bombed in the Sudetenland. The boy was taken in by the German Schleger family, but after their expulsion from the Sudetenland Jan found himself in a children’s home. The Vecks adopted him at the age of ten. But the despotic parenting methods of his stepfather, who used to be a member of the National Security Corps, meant that the adoption came to an end in 1960. Jan got married and moved to Žacléř, where he worked in a black coal mine for several years. A colleague pointed out to him that lost relatives can be found through the Red Cross. In 1968, Jan got in touch with his mother in Germany. In 1971, he moved to Liberec to be with his second wife, and for Christmas that same year, his mother with his uncle and aunt came to Czechoslovakia. From 1973 onwards he was allowed one trip to Germany a year. In the eighties he moved to Hradec Králové. The hard work of a stonemason took its toll on his health, nonetheless he carried on in his profession until 1995. Jan Wallstein retired in 2000 and in 2021 he was living in Hradec Králové.