Anděla Kulhánková

* 1924

  • On January 15, 1944, we left the Main station in Prague. Everybody was crying. Our mums went with us, there was also my 12-year-old sister and everybody was saying goodbye. It took us three days until we reached the place by Stuttgart. These were wooden wagons and we were sleeping there just like that. What I remember most about staying there is the life around the stove. As there was only one big stove, we were waiting around it so that we could heat our water and leave the stove for the next one. It was a terrible life. Then, we were washing ourselves, one after another, and waiting. We were cooking too, as we had no food tickets. And since we had no oven, we dug a hole by the river and put some pieces of sheet iron that some boys found for us upon that. And on that, we were cooking. The Germans always kicked it to pieces and cried “Böhmische Hund” at us, so we had to eat the terrible food in the canteen in the factory. It is actually hard to call it a factory as it was mostly just wooden houses and only a few of stone ones for offices. In the morning, there was usually just black coffee, or rather some slightly colored water. Boys always called on us: “Girls, don’t drink it, there is bromine inside!” It was fun with them.

  • They took our bakery and the mill, which already had a water turbine, not only the wheel. My brother was taking care of these improvements, he mounted the sifters, started to mill, and then came the year of 1948. Our fields were confiscated by the State Estates and the mill was sold by the Communists and turned into a holiday resort instead. Today, there is a beautiful guest house. We were compensated financially for that. It is in a beautiful location, a solitary house, close to Mníšek pod Brdy, between Líšnice, Bojov and Klínec. And on our fields, divided into little parcels of land, there are 56 cottages now. And then we still have a pond, two hectares of woods and some smaller forests with cottages. We also have two hectares of fields that are no use for us, as everybody does whatever they will there."

  • My father was a political prisoner during wartime. He was imprisoned because he told what he heard on Radio Moscow and Radio London in the pub. And the innkeeper reported him. When my dad was locked up, I had to go to Petschek Palace. My mum was dying out of fear and wasn’t even let upstairs with me. They brought me to an office, where there was some German who spoke to me in German, but I was so confused that I told him: “Excuse me, don’t you speak Czech?” And he showed me a huge paper bag with a blue sign: “Beware, Czechs, informer!” Then he told me that I was accused of drawing that sign which I refused and so I had to demonstrate it by writing. Fortunately, I was released soon.”

  • When the Heydrich assassination happened, I was just on a training in a hospital and living with my aunt in the center of Prague. Germans would come at night and sneak through perhaps every apartment in the city. My aunt ended up in a concentration camp in Ravensbrück for hiding a resistance fighter who was connected to Kodl family that was trafficking weapons in coffins. The man was hiding in the ventilation shaft in the bathroom. If they had found him, they would have shot us all dead. But eventually, they realized she was involved, or somebody reported her, and she was sent to Ravensbrück.

  • I remember how Germans were expulsed. Despite having suffered from the Germans, I was really sorry for these people. When I saw the old people… They were farmers from the local farms, worn-out old men and women. When I saw them in the rows with their suitcases, I felt like when I saw Jews in the same situation during the war. I couldn’t get over it for a long time, first seeing Jews being expulsed, then the Germans. It stayed on me for a long time. Everyone could only bring fifty kilograms. I didn’t like the expulsion at all.

  • Celé nahrávky
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    Horní Počernice, 18.10.2012

    délka: 02:12:34
    nahrávka pořízena v rámci projektu Memory of the Nation: Stories from Horní Počernice
Celé nahrávky jsou k dispozici pouze pro přihlášené uživatele.

The expulsion of the Germans was like the expulsion of the Jews

Shortly before the wedding
Shortly before the wedding
zdroj: Rodinné album

Anděla Kulhánková was born in Unhošť, lived with her parents in Kyje, and eventually they moved to Horní Počernice in 1939. Her family was dealt several blows during the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia. During the war, she was attending a „family school“ (where girls learn how to take care of the household) and lived with her aunt in the center of Prague. At that time, the Heydrich assassination happened. Her aunt was hiding one of the resistance fighters who was helping those who carried out the mission. When the Gestapo came to their apartment for a random house-search, he hid himself in the ventilation shaft on the toilet. Fortunately, he wasn‘t found. But her aunt was arrested and sent to Ravensbrück anyway after several months, and she never returned. At the same time, her father was sent to a concentration camp because of listening to foreign broadcast after being reported by an innkeeper in Horní Počernice. Anděla Kulhánková herself worked as an au-pair in 1943, until she was sent to Germany for forced labor. She worked in a gunpowder factory close to Stuttgart with other Czechs, Ukrainians, French and other nationalities that were each doing a specific part of the work. Upon returning to Prague, she was immediately sent back on forced labor, but this time only to Kolín. This experience, however, was far worse than that in Germany. Here, other Czechs regarded her as inferior because she returned from the Reich. Fortunately, these hardships didn‘t last long as the war was over in a couple of months and everyone could return to their families. Once the war ended, Mrs. Kulhánková enrolled in a course for kindegarten teachers and she moved to borderlands as part of the frontier settlement programme as early as October 1945. As well as her other friends, she was motivated by nothing but sheer enthusiasm for her country. But at the same time, that was when she got to know the negative side of the nation she wanted to help so much to rise after the war. Expeditions of Czechs looting homes after the Germans became almost a rule. Those who really stayed and lived there had to fight for the very basic things necessary for living. She also had hard time dealing with how these people behaved towards the Germans who had lived here for hundreds of years and now were to be expatriated. And because there was no cultural life in the village, she was trying to make it up for herself by building a library and creating herbals. When she got married in 1949, she returned to Horní Počernice. There, her family that was recovering from the hardships of the occupation was struck by the Communist policy of nationalization. They lost all their property. The real estates were taken officially; other things were simply stolen for the Communists‘ private needs. Right in 1950, she started working in the local kindergarten and stayed there long until retirement, raising generations of children in Horní Počernice.