Emil Baierl

* 1933  

  • This was before 1938 when my father had to go through military training, because he was a citizen of the state with corresponding duties. Every two years he had to go to Rokycany for basic training, followed by further training where he worked in a cobbler’s workshop. In Rokycany, as I’ve said before. So in 1938 the Czechs mobilised and everyone was supposed to enlist. That’s when they all ran away to Bavaria. That made them deserters who weren’t allowed back home. That was before we were annexed, when Sudety became part of Germany. And that’s when he (my father) had to enlist anyway in 1939, he had to join the army. So it was all pointless. Yes, everyone ran away to Bavaria. Because it would have been odd to fight Germans. Nobody wanted anything to do with that kind of fratricidal war. And the Czechs remembered that well. When he returned home after 1945, they either arrested him or even had him executed.

  • Then the army came and they were the most dangerous. They shouted “Halt!” and if you didn’t, they’d start firing. That winter they shot two girls close by us. They lay on the meadow, one was shot clean through her head, dying immediately, the other was shot in the belly and screamed for hours later. They weren’t far away, at most five hundred metres. We weren’t allowed to go out there, that was completely forbidden. By the evening they were both dead and then they took them by sledge to the morgue in Červené Dřevo. That’s where I saw them, because as altar boys we had to help out there. That’s where we looked at those dead bodies. All the other men who were shot also ended up in Červené Dřevo. One from Vorderbuchberg in Bavaria, one from Liščí and one from Chudenín, all three ended up at the morgue in Červené Dřevo. It’s quite an odd thing to see, when you’re a small boy…

  • And when we had our wits about us, we were looking to get out. Bit by bit we carried things out, that winter of 1945. Our uncle helped us. We put our furniture, beds and kitchen cabinet on sledges and dragged them along the road between Fleky and Hofberg. It was something of a mass migration, the roads were full of people. Until the army came, things went well. When the army came, that was it. They wanted nothing of it and started arresting people. We wrapped corn and our belongings into sacks, writing our names on them, tying them tight and then carrying them over the border, my mother and I. Entering Hofberg, there was a small farm with a barn at the border, that was the plan. It wasn’t just us, there were people from Přední Fleky, all the way from Chudenín and Liščí people were hauling their things in the same direction.

  • If we hadn’t left, we’d have been sent to work with Czech farmers in the midlands. Our children may have been able to attend school, who knows. Or perhaps we would’ve been forced to accept Czech citizenship, otherwise we’d have been unable to do anything. We wanted to avoid that, that’s the reason we ran away to Bavaria. Dad wouldn’t have been allowed home either way. If he’d come home from captivity they’d have arrested him immediately as a deserter.

  • We’ve been holding our festival for years, but our ranks are thinning. When parents stop going and their children won’t take them, it’s all over. That’s bad. On the one hand I’m a little sad, but that is just biological necessity. It’s something the Czechs must have counted on, that the whole thing would eventually be put to sleep. I previously had a low opinion of Czechs, but since we’ve been working in Červené Dřevo and talking to two mayors from Chudenín who really appreciate it and gave us a ton of help, I said to myself: Why should we be any better? Since then we’ve been good friends. There’s a company from Skelná Huť which helped us with everything, lifting up all those gravestones. He (Adolf Šulan) only speaks in broken German, but we understand each other well.

  • But our work wasn’t useless, was it. Quite a few cyclists and other people visit the place. We know that when working inside, young people come along, mostly the young and they want to talk. They tend to be students from Prague and other places. Some apologise for the horrors that took place and for their parents. Some of them talk and some say nothing. I understand that. At the time we were enemies, despite being Czech citizens. Oh well, that’s years and years ago. The young people think differently, I have to give them that, they have sympathy, but they don’t just accept what happened.

  • When the borders opened, we went looking and saw the cemetery cross. That’s when we knew: aha, here’s the cross, this is where the cemetery was and over here is where the church must have been. There were two or three of the boys with me and they knew everything. From my altar boy days I remembered where the church and the morgue were. So we started searching for it all there. There was a whole forest grown over everything, only the cross stuck out a bit. And there, where the church used to stand we threw aside a bit of earth and saw there were ashes from a fire. So yes, it has to be somewhere here, this is where we have to dig it up. And that’s how we uncovered the foundations of the whole church and everything around it.

  • Celé nahrávky
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    Neukirchen, SRN, 04.09.2019

    (audio)
    délka: 01:48:29
    nahrávka pořízena v rámci projektu The removed memory of Šumava
Celé nahrávky jsou k dispozici pouze pro přihlášené uživatele.

Only stones remained from our family home, but we uncovered the church foundations after the fall of the Iron Curtain

Emil Baierl as a child
Emil Baierl as a child
zdroj: pamětník

Emil Baierl was born on 8 December 1933 in Uhliště in Klatovsko Region (Kohlheim in German) and grew up in a large farmhouse with a cobbler’s workshop in nearby Fleky (Flecken). People spoke exclusively in German in Fleky, just like in the now-defunct village of Červené Dřevo (Rothenbaum), where Emil went to school and which used to be the site of the pilgrimage church of Our Lady of Sorrows. Here Emil occasionally served as an altar boy during mass, it was also the only church for the inhabitants of several nearby Bavarian villages. Emil’s father served in the Czechoslovak Army, but prior to mobilisation in 1938 he fled over the border into Bavaria, and as a deserter he was prohibited from returning to Czechoslovakia after the war. In 1939 he enlisted in the German Army and fell into captivity. After the end of the Second World War, Emil and his mother began systematically smuggling things to the Bavarian side of the border – out of fear of deportation. Each night they squeezed their most essential belongings into sacks and carried them across the border until the arrival of the Czechoslovak Army in November 1945. In March of 1946, he and his mother and younger brother crossed over one final time. They lived in temporary quarters in a cowshed until moving to Neukirchen in 1948, where Emil received training as a cobbler. Emil watched the building of the Iron Curtain and destruction of the border villages from Germany, only returning to Bohemia after the borders opened in 1989. His first journey was to their house in Fleky, where only a pile of stones remained. On the location of the destroyed village of Červené Dřevo, Emil and other locals managed to discover the site of the original church. They gradually uncovered the entire foundations, built up some peripheral walls, renovated the tombstones at the erstwhile cemetery and had a commemorative plaque installed.