Eduard Zimmel

* 1926  

  • “There was a fight, then they came to my aunt’s at night and they arrested me there and took me away. It was in 1953. [And they relocated you as well?] What? [They relocated you too?] Yes, the whole house, we were all told to move. [And where did they move you?] To Úsilné near České Budějovice. Father eventually got a place to stay there. They ordered the local mayor that he had to accept us there. We were not wanted anywhere.”

  • “He was in the German army and he always got hold of something. He had to. I thus always had more, so I [didn’t mind the food from the Americans that much]. I ate some canned food and I thought that it would rip me apart. I was used to eating all the time. And some people who were going to work were getting food, some lunch. At least something.”

  • “As I said, I went to the railway station. [And there were the dead letter boxes there, right?] What? [There were dead letter boxes there, weren’t they?] Yes, they were there, but I had nothing to do with that. The only thing I was involved in was that I had agents. They arrived there. Karel Gruber got them and then they imprisoned us. He was executed; they executed Karel.”

  • “He was a friend of mine and he had been in the SS and I had been imprisoned. He had registered as a Czech national. He returned from captivity and I returned from the concentration camp. We became friends, we were riding a bike together, going to Velenice and we were surveying the area there, towards Austria. But all of a sudden someone informed upon him that he had been in the SS, and a trial was held against him.”

  • “They occupied the Protectorate. I lived in the village, in Rapšach, and then I had to join the army, too. I didn’t join it; I had registered as a Czech national. There were two friends who were with me, and we all registered as Czechs. They did not recognize it, and so they imprisoned us.”

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    Tábor, 23.01.2015

    duration: 02:43:35
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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He had been in the SS, I had been in the concentration camp, and we were friends as if nothing happened

Eduard Zimmel, after the war
Eduard Zimmel, after the war
photo: archiv Eduarda Zimmela

Eduard Zimmel was born March 13, 1926 in Rapšach in the Vitorazsko (Weitraer) region in the then Czechoslovakia. The village as well as the whole Vitorazko area was specific due to its location and due to the fact that it has become a victim of both Nazi and Communists dictatorships. Eduard had managed to complete elementary school and his vocational training as a tailor before the Vitorazsko area was incorporated into the Nazi Germany on 24th November 1938. Its Czech inhabitants were evacuated to the country’s interior and the remaining residents had to register as German nationals. Eduard allegedly registered his nationality as Czech, but in spite of that he was treated as if he were a German. When he received a draft notice to the wehrmacht in 1943, he refused to join the German army and he was consequently arrested on 26th October 1943 and taken to the prison in Znojmo and later to Simmering in Vienna, from where he was then deported to the concentration camp in Dachau. He spent two years there while working in a factory where he was sewing German uniforms. After the liberation of Dachau on 29th April, 1945 he was able to return to his native village. After 1948 he began cooperating with his childhood friend Karel Gruber. Gruber had served in the SS during the war and after 1948 he was working for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Since Karel Gruber knew the Vitorazko region very well, he was easily able to cross the border between Austria and Czechoslovakia, which made him very valuable for the CIA as an agent-walker. Eduard was helping him with finding accommodation for other agent-walkers, taking them to the railway station or showing them the way. However, information about these activities, in which some other people from Rapšach were involved as well, leaked out and Eduard and Karel Gruber were arrested. Gruber was sentenced to death penalty and Eduard was sentenced in České Budějovice to seven years of imprisonment. In 1953-1960 he was thus interned in the labour camps in Jáchymov and in the prison in Mírov. After his release he had nowhere to return, because the inhabitants of Rapšach were relocated inland in 1952 due to the need to guard the state border and the village became resettled by new residents who had moved there from the country’s interior. Eduard instead “returned” to Úsilné near České Budějovice and then he moved to Tábor where he worked in the local factory Tapa and in a heritage conservation agency. His father Václav served in the wehrmacht during WWII. In the 1950s he was arrested and imprisoned, together with Eduard’s aunt and his cousins Adolf and Rudolf. Eduard now lives in Tábor and he is a veteran of both the second and third resistance movement.