Hilde Heller

* 1923

  • "A lot changed here, there used to be a lot of industry here, especially the glassworks, a lot of people worked at home. And that's all gone now, there are no job opportunities here now. Mistrovice and Oldřichov used to be divided. Mistrovice had 1900 inhabitants, Oldřichov some 1650. Today they have 1660 both. They even built a Czech school here, we went to the German middle school in Šenov. Everything worked fine, until Henlein started messing it up."

  • "We were without citizenship, actually. Only when the Communists came, did we receive citizenship, and some minor rights. Before that we were one big nothing. They took twenty percent of my wages in Kamenice, we were winding electric motors there. My boss was always sorry that he had to do it, but that's how it had to be."

  • "You know, it never influenced me much because I was at home with the children and I only did household work. I didn't go out much. Once they wanted to elect me into the local council, but my husband didn't want that because there were men there... That was dangerous."

  • "I went to the fourth class of middle school of my own accord, I was a very good student. But unfortunately, when there's no money, that's that. My parents couldn't pay to accommodate me somewhere else, that was impossible. I would have had plans, but unfortunately they were unfulfillable."

  • "You couldn't say a word in the Reich, there were informants everywhere. I wanted to marry during the war, they wanted a statement of ancestry, and something else... my (political) behaviour card... Unfortunately he died, everything was ready... as happened to others too. He was in Lemberk, they were supposed to take some spare parts by plane, and he didn't come back. Who knows. To be gone missing in Poland meant pretty much the same as being dead. And no surprise, because they didn't treat the Polish all too well."

  • "I think that who had nothing, has no right to demand anything, and the rich have enough, so they should let it be. That's my personal opinion, you don't have to tell that to anyone. But it's true. Why don't they just let it be already? As I say, I am what I am." Question: "Would you call yourself a German-speaking Czech now?" (impossible to translate exactly) Answer: "Not Czech, but böhmisch! Everyone who lived here was böhmisch. But I remain German (language-wise)."

  • "We weren't with Henlein, my parents were always Social Democrats. We didn't like Henlein. I didn't understand it as a child, but you can see what became of it. Henlein was not one of our favourites. I personally was never influenced at home, to think or believe in anything, I had to sort it out myself. I went to church regularly, not fanatically, but I went, we were Roman Catholics."

  • To the question, why and under what cirumcstances was her family allowed to stay in Bohemia, she answers: "Well, it was like this: in 1946 I got married and we spent our honeymoon in the evacuation camp in Děčín (meant ironically). Glassblowers had this special pass - and they could stay, because they were needed. On the other they expelled so many people, that they established a glassworks industry in Bavaria. No one thought that out properly at the time... So long as the Germans were gone. After that my husband got the pass and we could go back."

  • "Those people, the first ones, were from farms. They wanted to send the Germans on to their fields, because they didn't have the workforce. Erna must have talked about it. So the first ones were from the farms they took for themselves, but they didn't have a clue about how things worked, so all the farms went into ruin. They thought they would come here, the Germans would work on the farms, and they would just be the masters. They didn't have a clue. Opposite us was the best estate in the whole area. They gave that to Jews, and they really didn't know a thing about how to do things. And no interest... for agriculture. Before them there was this one man who carried out illicit slaughters (of cattle), so they threw him out. But they didn't have anyone else, so they put Jews there. They were in contact with the other Jews, and they were gone overnight. They knew what was coming... and they didn't want Communism. They knew what was in the air, and they were gone."

  • "Until that time, when the pestering started, everything was as normal. We, my parents, we lived together as normal. My father didn't say anything anywhere, he didn't complain of anything. As I say, before the pestering started. One thing is for sure - after 1945, every Saturday, Sunday, people came round to check up houses. When they found one they liked, the people had to leave. We had to leave aswell, they put us together with seven other families in a bungalow, up there. I think they often stalked our houses in the night, looking for some mischief to do."

  • "We were free to leave then, that was, when the Russians came, in 1968. But at thetime they wanted six thousand crowns per person, we didn't have that. My elder son was in the first class of grammar school and he thought, that he wouldn't manage it in German. That was nonsense, of course he would have managed. But one thing was impertinent... when the children got their ID card. They wrote there 'Czech nationality', without even asking. When they got the card, it had Czech nationality written on it. The younger one wanted to do something about it, but the elder said to let it be. So they're Czechs today."

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    Nový Oldřichov, 15.07.2006

    délka: 01:03:37
    nahrávka pořízena v rámci projektu Stories of 20th Century
Celé nahrávky jsou k dispozici pouze pro přihlášené uživatele.

At first I didn‘t want to a speak a word of Czech I can speak it very well now, but it is a foreign language for me

zdroj: Pamět národa - Archiv

Hilde Heller was born in 1923 in Nový Oldřichov, near Kamenický Šenov, in a Social Democrat family. As a young girl she started work in a mill in the village of Phillipsdorf, where she was betrothed to a man called Alfred Rief. Unfortunately, he died just before their wedding, on the Eastern Front. She was not expelled after the war, thanks to her newly married husband, a glassblower, as glassblowers were important to the Czech industry. She witnessed the recolonisation of the border region by newcomers, worked in a quarry, her children were automatically given Czech citizenship. Nový Oldřichov, where Hilde Heller still lives, is a Czech speaking town today and she (her husband died in 1993) is the last German speaking inhabitant.