Oswald Kittel

* 1929

  • "So we have this idea of understanding based on the shared history. Based on the common neighbourhood that we had with Czech families. And also that if we seek mutual understanding, then as equals, that is, we respect each other. Everyone had their own fate, their own experiences, but that is no reason to put conditions on ourselves. We treat each other as equals, without prejudice, without any regrets. We want understanding. That has been the guiding idea since 1992 when I joined the Natives' Association. The guiding idea for public work towards the homeland as the Natives' Association Česká Kamenice. We have sought understanding so far with the local mayors that we organize natives' meetings every two years and have re-established the local pilgrimage."

  • "He could demonstrate certain activities in his life for the Czech state. As a recruit he took an oath, a military oath, to President Masaryk. And in '38, when there was a general mobilization, he was drafted into the Czech army. And he enlisted and was admired for that later. So he followed the orders of the Czech state, on the basis of his military oath to Masaryk. Not like the others who fled to Saxony and went to the Sudeten German Freikorps, the Nazis. And he, which is contrary to Beneš decrees, was discharged from the Second Republic army with honours after the occupation of the Sudetenland. Since he served the Czech state on the basis of his oath, he did not betray the Czech state. He returned home and was handed over to the German military authorities in Děčín, where he was interned, like the others who had been released. There they were interned and interrogated about what they had done. But because they couldn't prove anything negative about my father, he was a trumpet player in the unit, they let him go home. He went back to work at the paper mill in Česká Kamenice and was welcomed there as a traitor to the Sudeten German cause because he had not fled to Saxony but had enlisted in the Czech army. He was therefore ready to defend the state against Hitler's Germany. But on the basis of Beneš decrees he was a traitor to the Czech state. So who did he betray?"

  • "Yes, I crossed the border three times. We still had aunts there, my grandmother was still at home. They knew through 'silent mail' that we were coming and they had already prepared the food that we then... And on the third crossing, on the way back, I was detained in Limbach, which is a neighbouring village, by the Czech commissar Hasel from the village of Líska. We knew each other from Hitler's time, because he delivered milk in Kamenice and we knew each other. So he knew me and detained me. But for me at that moment it was... I couldn't give in, that would have been dangerous for me. And so I started running for my life and tried to reach the forest and get lost in it. And when he realized he couldn't catch me, he shot at me. So he was ready to shoot me before I reached the edge of the forest. That was the situation. That was the second moment in my life when I could have lost my life."

  • "On the evening of 14 July, the national committee called all of us citizens together on the square in Česká Kamenice and there we were told that the expulsion would follow. And on the fifteenth, at five o'clock in the morning, there was a third wave of expulsion, when the partisans, the Czechs, went house to house and called on people to leave their flats and houses within half an hour. They were allowed to take fifty kilos with them and had to be at the assembly point to be checked again to see if they had anything with them that was forbidden. And from there we were transported by truck to the border in Saxony, to Hinterhermsdorf. And there we were unloaded, and there we were completely uncared-for, everyone could do with us what they wanted. We had no assets, no property. And that was a disaster for many."

  • "Hitler's Germany insisted on protecting the Sudeten Germans, so then the Sudetenland was ceded to Hitler's Germany. It was a process which, from our point of view, at that time... It has to be said, in all honesty, that we, and we children, welcomed it. We were biased in favour of Germany. For us, the occupation of the Sudetenland was a kind of liberation from the Czech state. It was a general inclination towards Germany. And then when they marched in, the Wehrmacht soldiers were welcomed in the Sudetenland. Hitler himself was also in Kamenice on 5 October, and I, as a pupil, was also in the square with my school class. In the immediate vicinity of the town hall, where Hitler stopped, he was greeted with slogans such as 'Thank our leader' or 'One nation, one Reich, one leader'. These were the slogans which generally prevailed at the time and which the masses of the population shouted. This needs to be said."

  • Celé nahrávky
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    Dresden, 16.06.2021

    délka: 01:56:42
    nahrávka pořízena v rámci projektu Inconvenient Mobility
Celé nahrávky jsou k dispozici pouze pro přihlášené uživatele.

We were neighbours, we have a common history. Let us seek understanding, let us act together as equals.

Oswald Kittel in 2021
Oswald Kittel in 2021
zdroj: pamětník

Oswald Kittel was born on 14 June 1929 into a German family in Česká Kamenice. In 1937-1938, the town was marked by national tensions, Henlein Party activists were active there, and the threat of war was in the air. The newly built Czechoslovak defence line ran about ten kilometres from the Kittel house, but after the Munich Agreement the Czechoslovak soldiers withdrew. Oswald‘s father was one of the few Czech Germans who obeyed the Czechoslovak state‘s call for general mobilisation. This earned him the distrust of his German superiors, but after the war the family was nevertheless removed from Czechoslovakia. Oswald Kittel had the opportunity to visit the nearby Rabštejn camp, which was a branch of KZ Flossenbürg during the war and was used for the internment of German officials after the war. In the last weeks of the war, Oswald enlisted at the age of less than sixteen and took part in the last battles in the Marienbad region, where he was wounded. After a short stay in American captivity, he arrived home in Kamenice in the middle of May. A month later the family was deported to Saxony, an area occupied by the Red Army, later the German Democratic Republic. The exiles stayed at the border for several weeks, making underground trips across the border to get food; Oswald was nearly shot during one. A trained shoemaker and a student of construction, Oswald lived in the then German Democratic Republic (GDR). He visited his native Česká Kamenice for the first time after the expulsion in 1964. After the fall of the Iron Curtain, he became involved in regional associations and promoted the idea of mutual dialogue between Germans and Czechs.