Emil Stebel

* 1928  †︎ 2023

  • “When everyone left for that square, I was the last one. And I heard the voice of God telling me to hide there. I wasn't even breathing. I knew that if they caught me, they would shoot me immediately. But it was the power of God that there was such a tall stove behind which no one could see me and where the hiding place was. I hid there. In an hour or two, someone came. I only saw his shoes and heard him say no one was there. He was not destined to come to that stove, for if he came there, my life would be lost, and no one would know anything. He left, everyone left, and I stayed there. They [the Germans] were no longer in control because they had no time. It happened quickly, so they didn't realise I was missing from the Appelplatz. They left, and it was calm. No Gestapo, towers abandoned, gate open. To me, it meant freedom.”

  • “A colleague, Strzolka was his name, stole a watch from the highest in Jablunkov. And he came right to me, showing it to me to take a look at it. And it was a beautiful watch. I can still see it now. I won't forget that. And he asks if I will buy it. I say, 'But it's going to be expensive. I don't have that many marks.' He asked how many marks I had; I told him one hundred and ninety. He said: 'Give me the money, and here's your watch.' So I gave him the one hundred and ninety marks, took the watch and hid it so that no one would take it and that it would be well hidden. They didn't do anything to him because they had a signed Volksliste, so he went to the military. And I was sent to a concentration camp."

  • "When the Germans came, they also wanted to take us to work in Germany. A truck was supposed to come for us at four o'clock in the morning. They wanted to export three families to Germany. Kaleta, that was the preacher, Czudkovi and Steblovy. We were all ready. We could take packages up to ten kilograms, provisions and the like. We gave the cows food for a longer period of time because we didn't know what would happen next. And we waited all night. The cars arrived in Hrádek, but the then mayor said that he would not let any of those people be exported, that they would stay here, and that he was in charge of them. So the cars left empty again and we stayed."

  • Celé nahrávky
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    Hrádek, 24.06.2021

    délka: 02:13:27
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I escaped from the Nazi camp with God‘s help

Emil Stebel, 1952
Emil Stebel, 1952
zdroj: Witness archive

Emil Stebel was born on March 24, 1928, in a Polish evangelical family in Hrádek near Jablunkov. He came from a family of 12 children. The parents had a farm in the mountain settlement called U Rykaly, and his father also worked in the ironworks in Třinec. In September 1939, when Těšín Silesia was occupied by the Nazis, Hrádek became part of Germany. The family refused to be registered in the list of Germans called Volksliste and continued to claim Polish nationality. Two of his older brothers had to go to Germany for forced labour. The whole family was threatened with deportation to Germany. At the age of 14, Emil had to start working on a farm in Jablunkov. In January 1945, the Gestapo arrested him for buying a stolen watch. He suffered for a month in the interrogation and labour camp in Myslovice near Katowice in Poland. He worked in a group of prisoners that disposed of unexploded American bombs. He managed to escape when the prisoners were being transported from the camp to Germany because the Soviets were approaching. For the last two months before liberation, his parents hid him in a cow barn at home. He worked at Třinec Iron and Steel works as a warehouseman until his retirement. In 2021, he lived in his house in Hrádek. Emil Stebel passed away on March, the 6th, 2023.