“I remember Julius Meinl. He was in Frélichov several times. He had a young Japanese wife, who always rode through Frélichov. He was older, more of a stocky type. I used to go pea-picking on his farm, with Nepauer. A lot of people worked for Meinl, he even had a cannery there. During the Reich, you got five pfennigs for a kilo, which was quite a bit of money. You could earn up to five marks in a day.”
“In Pilsen we got correspondence cards once a week. I wrote home, but I didn’t get anything. The postlady who delivered the post had also delivered it under the Reich, she knew everyone. And so when I wrote a second time, she saw Vranešic 216, she knew they were away, so she brought my card to Aunt Stavaričová, who was still at home. About eight days later I received a parcel, then the following day I got a letter as well, with a hundred crowns, in which my aunt wrote that my parents were already gone.”
“There was one legionary there, a Czech, who put an announcement that everyone from the Czech Republic should come to him. I travelled there, and he said, true, you can go home, your parents are waiting for you there... My parents were long gone, but I didn’t know that. Then I came to the collection camp in Pilsen, in Bohemia. We thought we’d go home, but the army was waiting for us in Pilsen, and we became captives. Then it was bad. I was in Pilsen for about three months, and then we young ones were sent to the mines in Moravská Ostrava. We had to clear everything up in Pilsen, it was demolished. Then we worked with the bricklayers and in the foundry, we did all the rough jobs.”
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We thought we were going home, and yet they were taking us to a prison camp
Matthias Wraneschitz was born in 1927 in Frélichov to Jan and Anna Vranešic. They spoke Croatian at home, but because the Vranešices lived in a part of the village where several German families lived as well, little Matthias also spoke German. He learnt Czech in his first year at a Czech primary school in 1933. In September 1944 he was forcibly drafted into the German army and was deployed on the western front. After the war he found his way to Pilsen, where he was interned in a camp for Germans; he was put to clearing up debris from bombing runs on the city. After three months, this work duty was transferred to the mines around Ostrava. Matthias Wraneschitz worked there until 1948, when he managed to escape, return to Frélichov, and then flee to Austria the next day.