Barbora Páslerová

* 1930  

  • “We had to escape over the border illegally. We took what we were able to carry on our backs, duvets, the most necessary things... It was in winter, on March 19th 1946 at night, my grandma and grandpa were also there. I don’t know how many of us were there, but quite a lot, many people from the village who wanted to escape. We all walked, there was still snow. A Polish patrol was walking on the borderline. They were always in pairs, and if they had seen us, they could have started shooting, because after 10 p.m. we were not allowed to go outside. When we approached the border, all of us remained sitting in the woods, in the snow. And we were waiting for the patrol to pass. We saw there were two of them, and they carried firearms, but they had cigarettes, we could tell by the fire...So we were waiting, all sitting quietly, till the patrol reached Pstružný, a little further down, so that they could not see us anymore. For us, it was just a few meters over the path, and we were in Czechoslovakia.”

  • “One day, well, it is funny. Grandma and Grandpa were saying the Lord’s Prayer, I was sleeping in their place. They prayed in Czech: ´Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us...´ We had a cat, which we called Miník, and I heard the word sin (a pun on the similarity of the Czech word and the cat’s name – transl. note) and kept thinking about the cat, why they were praying for it, I did not understand it.”

  • “Even some Czechs were suspicious. Many of them...some of them were. (Did you also feel this?) Not me personally, I cannot say that, but some people did. Mainly because of their clothing. They wore white kneesocks, today this is normal, but these white socks had been worn by Germans a lot. We were afraid to wear them, for somebody might think, oh, so you also belong to them [Germans]. And those, who were completely unable to learn Czech, also felt this.”

  • “So we were walking all these villages around here, looking for a place to settle, but but everyone sent us to the border regions, to the former Sudetenland. And we did not want this. A mayor, or some chairman, showed us one house. I went to have a look with my mom, but when I saw that there were still cups on the table, things that people had left behind, I said no. We have experienced the same thing at home. I would have never wanted to stay there.”

  • “The place was called Jacobowitz and during Hitler’s era it was Wachtgrunt. Wacht, meaning a watch, and Grunt for ground. We could not get used to it. Čermná was Tscherbeney and then it became Grenzeck, meaning Border-corner.”

  • “In every school, there was always a cross hanging on a classroom wall. But with Hitler’s rise to power, the crosses got replaced with his portrait. When we came to school, the teacher would pray with us. But after that, we only had to say Heil Hitler...”

  • “Food rations were for free, everything was for free, because we had no money. At that time, German money was nonexistent, and we did not have any Polish money. Because there was no possibility for anyone to work. Therefore everything was provided by the Kłodzko committee for free. Mothers would always go over the border illegally, they had to. They would take backpacks and bring home something to eat. My mom and my friend’s mom were caught in the Slánské meadows, and they held them in Kudowa, there were soldiers in one villa, and they held them there.”

  • “When the Russians were there, it was bad. They went looting, and at that time they were still looking for German soldiers, in case some were still hiding there. They would always come unexpectedly, we were afraid even to set up a fire, because they would see the smoke from the chimney. They would always arrive from Kudowa on horses and always there was somebody who warned us that they were coming. And young girls, well, you would think they were too young, but they would all rush to a forest to hide. I remember one Russian came to our house, he had to break in with this rifle butt, and he stormed into the room and opened the wardrobe wide open, swinging this rifle, to see if somebody was hiding there.”

  • “When the end of the war came, we couldn’t get any further. We could not attend the school because the Russians had moved in there first. And we were not able to go to any other school, because we were there for one more year with the Poles, after the place came under Polish control. This is the way it was: those who wanted could go to Germany, there was a special train arranged and these people could leave for Germany. But we did not want to, because we were told that if we went to Czechoslovakia, things would calm down within half a year, and Kłodzko would be given to Czechoslovakia, and we would then return home. So we thought we would rather come here (to Czechoslovakia.). Therefore we had to cross the border illegally...”

  • “When they found out that people were gone, they began looting, they were looking for things, because everything had been left there. They set it on fire, and it burned down the very same day when they ran away. The very same day. We left two goats at home, there were also children. Jesus, what a horror. No, no, better not to think about it. I know, it is easy to say it like this, but to go through it, I can tell you, many a time I was sitting there on that guard stone, and when I was looking in the direction of our home, I did not feel well. And then, when you see strangers standing by your house, it is not nice. I do not wish for anybody to experience this. And I feel sorry for all people, who have had to leave their home like this. To leave their home.”

  • “After the Russians came, all radio sets had to be brought to a park in Kudowa, to the Kudowa spa. There was a pile of them, all this had to be surrendered. You were not allowed to have one, to listen to a radio. But under the Germans, we did have a radio, that is after electricity had been introduced. We had this radio set and I remember we listened mainly to the news, about the war situation. While our father was gone.”

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    v Náchodě, 20.10.2009

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I feel sorry for all people who have had to leave their homes

IMG_3467.JPG (historic)
Barbora Páslerová
zdroj: Archiv pamětníka

Barbora Páslerová was born in 1930 in Jakubovice, a small village in the former German, now Polish, region of Kłodzko. The village was part of the so-called Czech Corner, a Czech speaking enclave enclosed by Czechoslovak borders. As a schoolgirl, little Barbora was keenly aware of the influence of Nazi power seen in the disruptions of local customs and church-life. In 1939 her father was drafted to the wehrmacht. The family spent the war in the Kłodzko region, which was left relatively untouched. After the end of the war she, her mother and brother fled poverty and the threat of displacement to Czechoslovakia. They found their new home in Náchod. Klodzko had now belonged to Poland. Because of tense postwar relations between Czechoslovakia and Poland, they were forced to illegally cross the border, in order to visit relatives. They were reunited with their father in 1947.