Expulsion of German Nationals from Neissbach

Contributed by Researcher 230112
People in story: Thomas Fischer
Location of story: Neissbach, Grafschaft Glatz
Article ID:  A1070371
Contributed on: 06 June 2003

Up until 1946 my family lived in a small village in the Sudete mountains. It was a remote area that only had received electricity in the late 1930s. By the end of WWII they hadn’t seen one ‘ennemy’ soldier, as the area was of no strategic interest whatsoever. In the summer of 1945 the first Soviet soldiers appeared with a first round of lootings and rapes. Soon after that a Polish man took over our family home. My 14 year old father, his siter and my grandmother had to move to the stables (my grandfather was a PoW in France at that time and remained so for another 3 years). However, their workforce were needed, so they had to work for the new masters – the new ‘owner’ of the house and the Polish occupying forces. This situation went on for about a year and a half. By the end of 1947 the entire German population of the village – together with 16 M other ‘East’ Germans, of which up to 3 M died – were ordered to leave their house and their homelands that they had inhabited for many centuries. They had half an hour to prepare themselves and were allowed to take 20 kg of luggage with them. Everything else – together with photographs and items of personal value that the new ‘owner’ wanted to keep had to be left behind. They all gathered at the local station together with 100s of other expellees, whose only crime was to have the wrong nationality at the wrong time in the wrong place. Those who didn’t want to leave their ancestral homelands were beaten to death. My father, his sister and my grandmother were put on a cattle train together with my mother’s family, who were earlier expelled from their home in Upper Silesia. They as well had a suitcase of 20 kg with them and had to leave everything else behind, including my other grandfather, who died in a Soviet camp in the Ukraine – this is how my father and mother met. There journey lasted for a week and the train sometimes went Eastwards – to the horror of the ‘tavellers’ [some trains did go as far as Siberia...], and sometimes Westwards. – They were very lucky to actually end up in the British occupied zone near Brunswick. They always wanted to return, but it was and still is impossible up until this very day due to the Polish Bierut decrees, that do not allow Germans to go back [even now that Poland is joining the EU]. We went back to my family’s home last year. Only ruins are left. – However, their property ‘cross’ is still there with my grandfather’s initials. – Time has moved on and there is no way back, but the story of the biggest expulsion of world history – together with another very real holocaust of the East German prople – remains one of the great untold narratives of world history. I have been living in Britain for many years now and I like this country. But when it comes to WWII, the only thing I ever get to hear about Germany are the old stereotypes. Whenever I tell my Family’s story, everyone’s amazed. No one seems to know about it, which – given the scale of expulsion and murder deeply hurts and is almost unbelievable…

WW2 People’s War is an online archive of wartime memories contributed by members of the public and gathered by the BBC. The archive can be found at http://bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar