Johann Eppinger

* 1936  

  • That was in Prachatice too. When we were in Prachatice, there were also Jews in one camp. And my mother tried some food or an apple or something… They were stretching their arms out, those Jewish women, waiting for food. And my mother always gave them… or people always gave them something so the guards wouldn’t see. There was a camp, in Prachatice.

  • In 1945 as s nine-year-old I went to my First Holy Communion at the church of St. Jacob in Prachatice. Back then the church was already closed, but we were still allowed inside through the rear entrance. There was still a German parish priest there and we were given our Holy Communion. We had to go into the church in our slippers so as not to make a noise and upset the authorities. That’s how I got my First Communion. There was a back entrance which all the German kids had to go through for Communion, that was in May. The priest at the time called it in and he said he had authorization, I don’t know. We had to go in through the back entrance and be completely quiet. For us children it was difficult not to say anything at our First Communion. It was over quickly and in half an hour we were outside again. That’s my memory of the last days in 1945. Because no mass was celebrated after that.

  • On 3 March 1946 we were given the command to come to Prachatice station at 2 pm with 50 kg of luggage and 1000 Reichsmarks with us. And on that square in Prachatice was the concentration camp for Prachatice and the surrounding area, and we were moved into cattle cars. Inside there was straw, everyone got into the cattle car and we started out that night. Each wagon was full of a lot of old people, all the young ones had gone off to the war of course, there were just children and old people. And out of grief and despair many cried the whole night. They did feed us I have to say, they gave us warm soup. We travelled by night and stood still by day. But we weren’t allowed out of the wagons. There were police officers with dogs outside to stop us from escaping. And so we went all the way through Prague to Furth im Wald. The older people were looking out of a hole in the wagon and rejoicing: “To Prague – thank God we’re not going to Siberia, we’re going in the direction of Pilsen and West Germany.” And a cheer went up throughout the train even in the middle of that disaster and misery it was a good thing to be heading to Germany. That’s something I still remember well. Some people also died in that train. And the next station the train always stopped and those people were taken out, but we didn’t see that as children.

  • Celé nahrávky
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    Neukirchen b. hl. Blut, 01.09.2019

    (audio)
    délka: 01:15:48
    nahrávka pořízena v rámci projektu The removed memory of Šumava
Celé nahrávky jsou k dispozici pouze pro přihlášené uživatele.

I remember the expulsion as humane – without beatings or violence

Johann Eppinger, Neukirchen 2019
Johann Eppinger, Neukirchen 2019
zdroj: Natáčení

Johann Eppinger was born to a German family on 12 July 1936 in Dolní Sněžná near Prachatice. In 1938 the family moved to Prachatice, where he spent his childhood until the age of nine. On 12 January 1942 his father was killed when hit by a Panzerfaust on the Eastern Front, where he was buried near Besedino. This witness still has a few memories from Prachatice and Křišťanov, where the family spent their holidays during his childhood. He remembers the bombing of a group of refugees by American planes in Prachatice, the existence of a Jewish camp which imprisoned starving people in the building of the sports centre close by Prachatice station. He experienced the liberation of Prachatice by American soldiers who handed out tins of food and chocolate. In May of 1945 he attended Holy Communion at the Prachatice church of St. Jacob, which was held in secret by the German parish priest. On 6 March 1946, ten-year-old Johann was deported to Germany together with his mother and sister. The transport via Prague to Furth im Wald in “cattle cars” took place at night, with the train standing still during the day. He remembers several old people dying during the journey. In the main hall of the Furth im Wald camp, everyone was disinfected and reallocated to temporary work, usually with farmers. Integration was difficult, since refugee status was hardly an advantage at school, let alone when dating. Johann trained to be a carpenter and actively took part in the social and public life of the town of Frauenstätten, where the family lived. In 1978 he became a member of the town council and as early as 1972 he was a member of the State Diet for the CSU party in Tühringen. He visited Czechoslovakia for the first time in the 80s, after which he organised a charity drive for the renovation of the monastery in Teplá.