“Our parents would write a page of words into our notebooks every day, and we had to learn them off by heart. Children learn quickly and so I must’ve been fluent in Czech. I remember that once we were on a school trip to the cinema and I was talking to the teacher and told her we were going to be deported in June. She was surprised: What? You’re going to be deported? I thought you were going to apply for Czech citizenship? My father was probably entitled to that. He was head of the forestry administration, his Czech colleagues who came to Krušné hory (Ore mountains) were his schoolmates, who didn’t know their way around Krušné hory. But my father said, no we have to stay with the others and get through this suffering together.”
“They set a date, it was 27 June 1946. The forestry administration had horses and carts and so we loaded up a large horse and cart with our belongings, right up to the top. My mother actually packed many more things than were allowed. Altogether we were only allowed 50 kg. My parents packed most things into sacks, to save on the weight of crates. Things that might be broken were put into a weaved wicker basket, with four corners and a lid. The cart was full to the brim with the sledge on top, us children were proud of that. And that sledge is the first thing they took from us at the camp.”
“My father packed his Czech uniform, because he was a first lieutenant. We had to open all our luggage and they came across the uniform, so my father gave it to the soldier as a gift. And he was really happy, because he was wearing an undyed SS uniform and now he had a proper Czech uniform.”
“I wanted to start third class in Thalkirch, but the vicar was against it. That’s very interesting. I keep hearing it from others as well, the vicars were conservative. We had come as refugees, as foreigners and he wanted to ensure his village stayed homogeneous. On the first or second day, my father went to see him to introduce himself and he closed the door on him: ‘No I’ve already got refugees and I don’t need any more.’ That’s how the local vicar welcomed us. And so he was also against the idea of me starting my third school year.”
After arriving in Germany, Dad decided never to speak a word in Czech
Peter Linhart was born 19 April 1938 in Dobřany near Pilsen to Friedrich and Angele Linhart. Until age eight, he lived in Nejdek, in Krušné hory (Ore Mountains), where his father worked as a master forester. His mother studied medicine, but didn’t finish her studies after getting married. His father, a first lieutenant in the Czechoslovak Army, was mobilised in 1938, something that was definitely not the rule among Czech Germans. During the war he refused to actively cooperate with the ruling regime and was sent to the front. This witness remembers the post-war period as a time of fear, when the lives of Czech Germans were restricted by various prohibitions and orders. After the war, Peter attended a Czech school, his father spoke fluent Czech and as someone practicing a necessary profession, he had a good chance of gaining Czech citizenship. He did not however apply for it. He decided to share the fate of the other Czech Germans and so on 27 June 1946 the family relocated to Germany. From that time on, their father never spoke Czech again. Peter Linhart studied medicine and worked among other places in America in a hospital in a poor neighbourhood. He married and has three children. Today he feels it was a pity they stopped speaking Czech at home. He sees a great hope for reconciliation when seeing the interest of the young generation of Czechs in the issue of the post-war expulsion of the Germans.