Antonio Ottochian

* 1929  

  • - "And then went on a train to Divača. Go to.. to Divača, but I didn´t tell you how I was, was wounded and all of this, didn´t have… o yes, yes, yes! After, this came! Went to Rijeka, where we slept in one barrack, all of us down, like cats, and in the morning all up in Klana. Came to Klana, also in some barrack… not with a wire around… it was, not like in the other camps. Here… in every bunker: there were 4 bunkers, as far I know, five of us. There was a father, envy as one German was good to me. One time, he flushed water and I took his gun, and tried to spin it. So, German touched my shoulder. Father was shouting, not because he loved me but… he never loved me like the other, no. And he never… then he told me to go to pick up his lunch for that day, so had to go down hill, this is how it was, he gave me a half of his lunch. German. Even bring a wooden board so I can put the machine like this and teach me how to spin mine. Had everything. Was not full-fed, but not hungry. As he fed me. And then, after a month, said .. some words I understood, said: .. “You go to work for ten days”. So his officers came, gave me a chocolate and other things, and they let him … for me to go … and I said: .. Let him go alone, not to bother me”. Ten days after he came back and then the command was changed so this German say: “ Now you will go. When he come, you are going.” So, he came .. first time, second time said again that he go. “No, there is no more” say, “you have to go! Because, for you I was …” like, .. as you are good”; German officers sai… like me very much. And, he.. he didn´t came. - Saying about your father? - Father did not came. Then, in the evening when cleaning barrack two SS officers came. Where they are taking me I don´t know. In one room, with one chair like this and taking the belt with three parts. Hit me one time over my back. From there took me back again to the barr.. and back to work again! German was very angry on me! I say pum pim pim pim .. did not understood what… said to me to run! Where to run when do not know where?? Where to run?? He wanted me to escape. The next day the same thing twice happened. But again back to work. And then.. clearly heard, in the night, was a big storm, was no electricity.. hear someone say: “Lets run!” Behind us we use to tied some sheets or something and escape. One has left… there were no high and a lot of wires, but it was .. we saw him on a wire, but Rijeka was almost free town! As all of them withdrawn, Germans who were here to arm the barracks. Partizans caught me on Učka mountain. Me … seven of us. And took us to some wood, I saw some wire, didn´t know what it was, those were contact wires, and 7-8 Germans were there, they left … took them there, and bring some clothes but Germans didn´t came back. Luckily others came who escape, but … people were .. not so much with people but people were … running, wright. One man said: “Didn´t”, said “ didn´t go voluntarily, we were taken. You see”, said, “take of his shirt so you will witness are we voluntarily, not to … “When took my shirt of they saw what … belt stripes, how they did beat me! From there, Rijeka was already free, and with .. went to Piran and then to Trieste."

  • -"..I can tell you he was a good man. He said to mi: “Antonio, you go to Ilovik. There are three idiots and people run away from them. They are very strict. Even a cook has run away. You will put them in order”, two of them were from Ogulin, and said: “you go as you speak Italian, you go because of smuggling.” I was not happy about it. Gave us a can food supply for a week. As we didn´t know to cook, cook run away… and three kg of beans they …beans they gave to us, we put it in a pot, when boiled, food was all over; did not know what to do! I came to the cook..and lie! Before that, saw a village, similar like here in Istria, people play cards, and playing cards these three idiots restrict. 6-7 of them played, and I said: “ one-two-three-four-five; all of you go to prison”. They, looked at me, put the cards under the table.. “And now lets go six”. We played cards till 6 a.m. And I asked :”what did they restrict?” “Said: ”They restrict playing cards in porterhouse and had a lot of trouble for it.” I told them: ”I hope, tomorrow will phone to commander, so it will be allowed”. When came to this porterhouse after one morning, have this phone.. said: “ Comrade commander” … this and that..”You do as you think it is the best way for villagers to like you, not to hate you!” But now is a problem to find a cook for us. Decide to go knocking on the door, have been told where to look for cook and she said: “ Have been there and not coming back”. I think her son came not her. “O” sais, “ let him in”. I go inside, and say: lady, this is how things are …sais:” Now, three other persons are there, I think what happened to you will not happened again.” “Ok, she said, “Iĺl try”. Then she prepared tablecloth, calamari to eat, it was so nice and good, I went to get some fish as much I wanted. It was the time when olive harvest was, take off my jacket and helped them. Dalmatian said: “You had half glass of wine, you will get drank”. “O”, told him, “you can´t make me if I don´t want to”. We have a different dialect. Say “get drank” when man is already drank. They “will get drank”. There… I met a girl, but something bad happened. We wanted to escape. Across the border. A boat break down, I shouldn´t speak with her, because of that I almost killed her father defending her as he was beating her, I broke the door down and pull a gun to use it on him: had a gun Bereta. Then she said: “Ante, please, don´t do it.” Then ..he went to tell on me, he said: “If this happened you can´t go in the house you will bee moved. - Let me ask you, sorry, only… you said you wanted to escape, where? In Italy? - Yes. Wanted to escape in Italy! - Did you make a plan with her, how did you do it? - Everything was arranged, but the boat broke down so couldn´t go. - Till where did you came? - We didn´t go! Did not go, but we wanted and had attention to leave, as she must not leave, and I did not want to go without her… we had a very good relationship. And for that…I ask to let me go from the army.. “You should wait for a month…”Me, was released in within 8 days from National police."

  • -"... you came back .. home.. and where to now? That is … that was in… fifty … one. Came home, thinking where to go now, what to do.. then got job again … in Labin, as I said from there, as they told me I am no good, got job in Uljanik, from there… saw they do not pay a lot of attention to me, here I bought a motor bike. After… bought a stronger motor bike repurchase the money. Working also on the sea, working over time, fishing to make extra money, I was always.. always knew how to manage, to reorganize in life. In ´54. Got married with a woman who had a child and I accepted him, said to myself just to … to .. settle down. And made worse for myself. While child was growing up and after, both of them use to bossing me. Even, sorry, got a papers to be a manager in a camp, here.. here was a manager for a miners. Got married and … it does not work, does not work, does not work at all.. In ´63. went to Italy to visit my sister, manage to get a passport with a help of some connections, and in ´64., I had a friend and she work in Za..Beo…Zagreb cinema and to her I confide. She… had a friend who worked in secret service (udba). And friend from cinema told, unintentionally. So, in December, I decided to go with this passport to …. to cross over the border. When came to the border, told me:” You can´t go”. And, when he said I can´t go, I escape, in the middle of border I do this. Italians were laughing . - Did you punched him or what? - No, no! He went, to see it for there and during that time I run away. To the middle of border. After I knew they will not shoot. And now, I had to go to Pavina, don´t have … papers. An marshian told me: go to these places and there you will get papers and be free to go. Till 13th of January 1965 was there."

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    Pula, 19.05.2013

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Border policeman was confused by myself and I ran accross the border

Photo from the past
Photo from the past
zdroj: Pamět Národa - Archiv

Antonio was born on 13th of June in 1929. in a poor farmer family. As they were wery poor his parents use to send him to work as a lackey by welthy families. He was only 7 years old. He has been treated as a slave. Antonio went to school but not every day. One day he was in school and the next day he was working. Official language in school was italian and if you didn¨t kow it you have been punished. When Italy capitulated Germans came to the village and took him and his father to work on a military constructions. One german soldier was good to him, gave him food.  Eight of them from this camp escape and Antonio was one of them, they found partisans and join them. Close to Trieste Antonio was wounded and after that he was sent back home. He was activated in the 43.rd Istrian division and traveled into the other parts of the country. Antonio became highly respected in the army. But as his brother and sister escaped he was suspect. So, when he came back to Pula he was working different jobs but as soon as he got passport he went across the border. He applied to go to Sweden and he got visa. When came to Malmo firstly he was working at the restaurant. After, when he learned swedish he got a job in shippbuilding industry till he was retiered. Few years ago he came back home to live in Pula.