Ignác Žerníček

* 1924  †︎ 2020

  • “It was on Sunday and I went down there to do a check on them. The Krusche family lived in the house which is no longer there. Their daughter served as a maid in the Wieser family, where I had served before, and she was the only one who survived because she was not at home. I came by their house and I noticed that it was ten o’clock but they still had the curtains down in the windows. I got off my bike and I walked to the house. I was looking at it; they had a kind of a veranda there. They had firewood neatly arranged there. Everyone prided themselves on stacking wood properly. The Germans were hard-working people. Just like they are now, they were like this in the past. I saw ropes which they used when they carried hay on a wheelbarrow, and as I was looking at them, I saw blood. I attached a bayonet to my rifle and followed the blood trace. Hay making was already in progress at that time, and there was a stack of hay. I lifted it with the bayonet and there was a woman lying under it. She had come out when they were sleeping at night, and now she was there, with a wound in her breasts, her throat slashed, she has bled to death. A murder has taken place there. I walked around the house; hungry goats were bleating there. They had a cow, too, and it put its head through the window and it scared me. I walked to the barn, which was open. I walked through the barn to the hallway. Her mother was lying in the hallway. She had been murdered as well; a scythe was placed over her. They had not used the scythe, but it had probably fallen down on her when they were doing these things in the dark. I came to the door and there was their daughter, she had bled to death. She had probably wanted to run out, but the door handle was blocked by a piece of wood from the outside. I came in and there was an eleven-year-old boy who had been stabbed. He was still gasping for air. I was thinking what to do. There was no telephone, and so I rode my bike to Mr. Dohnálek and I told him to ride his bike to Kopřivná and use the telephone there to report that there had been a murder.”

  • “I saw the tree in the light from the windows, I also saw the bullet glow as it zapped by. But I had a response ready in my automatic pistol, off it whizzed. Then I was gripped by fear, for the first time in my life, I said to myself: What’ve you done? This is probably the end of your life, the Lord God knows how many of them there are there. Soon’t they come here, you’re a gonner. Either get out of here, save yourself, or stay in that attic.”

  • “They went to be deported. I never went with them. I had the coachmen get ready. Everyone was to take fifty kilograms with them. They had their stuff in bags and they were leaving according to the number of persons in a family. For instance, two families would be loaded on a wagon, and they would be taken to a camp in Šumperk. I didn’t want to see it. Even now, I feel terribly about it… In my opinion, it was done in a wrong way. Those who were Nazis should have been deported, but not three and a half million people; I still cannot come to terms with it.”

  • “It was the end of the war, and former partisans allegedly came for the innkeeper Emil Rotter, who was more of a nationalist socialism supporter, and for Fridl Heinisch. I don’t know the exact date, but it was probably the second or third day after the Russians had arrived. The farmers asked me to bring food and some clothing to them. They were to be interned in the schoolhouse in Olšany. I rode there on my bike, but they didn’t let me in to meet them. The guards took the things, and nobody knew anything about the two men anymore. Later I learnt that they had been interned in Prague for one year and then they were sent to a gulag probably in Abkhazia. I don’t know this precisely. Heinisch died there and Emil Rotter then returned to West Germany. He described the gulag and the transport. When his family was leaving, they had spent two or three days in Šumperk before being transported to Prague in cattle trucks. There they were divided according to the corresponding regions in Germany. The Weiser family was the first one to come to visit me after the war; they had built their house there within seven years.”

  • “They were famished, they wanted some food. I camped them in - well, this one bricklayer had previously quarried there, to make bricks for his house - so it was dug out. I sent them there, told them to go, that I’d get them something to eat. So I took [food] for them from Sedlice. Back then they baked bread - twelve loaves for a fortnight - and because it was soon after the baking, if there’d have been one or two of them, [the housewife] would’ve probably noticed it, but because there were eight or nine, she didn’t even notice that one of them disappeared. There were boiled potatoes in a pot for the pig, they were mashed up yet, so I took them out of the pot, I put the warm potatoes into a bucket and took it to them to the hollow.”

  • “At the end of the war, Russians began riding there with horses and trying to get hold of hay, oats, and so on. Twenty or thirty horses would be setting out. They would arrive to the village and go to all the houses. The Russians were taking away cattle. They only left one cow and one calf at each farm. All the other cattle were taken away. Only at the farms where Mr. Dohnálek, the other Czech man, and I worked, they did not take our cattle away, because we were Czechs. But they took it from everybody else. It they were acting deliberately. Czechs from as far away as Komňátky began arriving to loot German houses. ´Give me your shoes, give me the radio,´ just like that. The deportation has not even started and they were already coming there. After the deportation of Germans, officials from the local administration office came. They had their people for it. They were taking furniture which could be of use, clothes that had been left behind, and it was being taken to depots in Žárová, Velké Losiny and Hanušovice. People were getting rich on that.”

  • “Well, the Germans were scared, they hid the cattle, the horses especially they hid in the forest. The women fled, and the youth mostly. Both the women and their daughters fled, they were afraid of being raped.”

  • “They raped Keller’s wife. There was a farm where you see that tree and where the asphalt road ends. Mrs. Keller was digging beet in the beet field some hundred metres from here in the direction of Velké Losiny. They attacked her there, raped her, and she became pregnant. Her German man was treating her very badly. They probably broke up after the war. I think that she was pregnant with her the first child, and it had been begotten by a Russian.”

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Hynčice nad Moravou, 11.03.2015

    duration: 03:36:50
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
  • 2

    Šumperk, 14.07.2015

    duration: 02:05:43
  • 3

    Hynčice nad Moravou, 03.06.2016

    duration: 01:45:20
    media recorded in project The Stories of Our Neigbours
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

Forgotten Prameny

Ignác Žerníček
Ignác Žerníček
photo: archiv pamětníka

Ignác Žerníček was born July 3, 1924 in Hostice in a region inhabited mainly by German population. Czech nationals were however living in his native village and in the several surrounding villages. After the Munich agreement, Hostice became part of the border region which was occupied by the Nazi Germany, and when the Nazi administration began closing down Czech schools, fourteen-year-old Ignác Žerníček decided to move to the hamlet Štolnava (Stollenhau in German) and work there as a servant. While living there, he experienced many nice moments, but also the period shortly after the liberation, when the local German inhabitants were being constantly bullied by Soviet refugees who were looting the village, raping women, and who even brutally killed the four members of the Krusche family. Ignác Žerníček was allegedly the first person to discover the bodies, and the vivid images of this horrible scene are still etched in his memory. He also found it hard to cope with the deportation of the local inhabitants to Germany, because many of his friends were forced to leave at that time. He eventually became one of the last inhabitants of this settlement, whose name was changed to Prameny in 1949. He left in 1954 and eleven years later, all the devastated houses, with the exception of two, were torn down by soldiers from the barracks in Šumperk. Ignác Žerníček now lives in Hynčice nad Moravou.