“Good day, Germans out!” we could hear in the streets
Josef Wagner was born on 18 September 1937 in Ústí nad Labem, but he lived with his parents in the nearby town of Mojžíř. He was born into a German family, but does not have his nationality on his birth certificate. His mother was from a Litoměřice region hops-farming family, her father was a master builder with his own firm. Both spoke Czech. His father fought in the war, but was wounded four times and so regularly returned home. During the war, little Josef experienced fear of air raids and had a sense of the propaganda throughout society alongside the quiet disapproval of his grandparents. After the war, the family lost their apartment house and his father’s business. His father found work in Ústí, under the Czechified name Vágner. The family was forcefully displaced on 1 August 1946. They continued from the Všebořice camp, across the borders into the Soviet occupation zone and the Eggesin internment camp. After a difficult start in Ahlbeck, the family, together with Josef and his two brothers, settled permanently in the town of Neustrelitz. Josef became a construction engineer, married a German from East Prussia. He lived his whole life in the GDR. He managed to visit his childhood village for the first time in 1962. He thinks that the rise of extremism is proof that we’ve learned little from the past.