“She was being led by two wardens and she shook herself free and went by herself. At first she sank to her knees, so they held her and she wrenched herself free and went on, and they hanged her there. It was fenced off, only the family of the executed sons were allowed there, and us, because my man brought her there.”
“They stood on the road in columns, they were all being expelled, and before they got there, they had to stand and wait. There were soldiers here who kept watch on those who were to be expelled. A small child started to cry because it had lost its dummy. And my son, he had a dummy, so I went into the café, took his dummy and gave it to the child’s mother. The child couldn’t help it, after all. And the soldier asked if I wanted to be expelled as well, so I said, sure, I don’t care.”
“To start with it was fine, everything was pretty there. Then when the war came, it was terrible. We kept having to go into the cellar, we had everything in the cellar just so that we didn’t have to drag it there every day. The things we needed I mean. Terrible. We weren’t allowed to have lights there, or heating; it was awful during winter, when there was an air raid we had to open the windows or they’d break.”
“The Russians would jump in through the windows, we were in the gym hall in Dačice. ‘Davay chasi!’ [Give me your watch!] And I had such a lovely wristwatch, and he already had his arm full of them. So I said I wouldn’t give, that he already has enough. So he took out his pistol and forced me against the wall, I dropped quickly to the floor, he’d have shot me, so I gave him the watch.”
Helena Šprinclová, née Hůrková, was born in 1924 in Vienna, where she lived until the end of World War II. She comes from a family with Czech roots. She trained as a shop assistant but during World War II was assigned to factory labour. In the end she managed to avoid that by taking up the job of tram conductor. It was there that she met her future husband. He was a Czech who was in Vienna on forced labour. Before the war ended, their first son was born in Vienna. In spring 1945 they moved together to her boyfriend‘s home town of Dačice, where they experienced the end of the war. Helena Hůrková did not return to Vienna. At first she remained in Dačice, where she was briefly imprisoned in a labour camp as a German-speaking „foreigner“. They then moved to Slavonice in the border region, where her boyfriend served as a guard. She witnessed the wild expulsion of the local German inhabitants, the imprisonment and execution of real or suspected collaborators. In autumn 1945 she married the father of her child and thus received Czechoslovak citizenship while at the same time losing her Austrian one. In the first post-war years Helena often bore the brunt of scorn for her Austrian origin and her situation was all the more complicated by the fact that even several years after the war she still did not speak good Czech. After the war she made an effort to remain in touch with her relatives in Vienna. In 1949 she was allowed to go visit her native town, but further trips were denied for the next 24 years. She was permitted to visit Austria again in the 1970s. Although she had been described as an unreliable person by the state in the 1950s, the Communist security forces made use of her services in securing the state borders. As a native Austrian, Helena Šprinclová spoke perfect German, and that came in handy to the border guards and State Security members when they were questioning German-speaking persons intercepted on the state border.