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July 1999


This interview with one of the area’s original inhabitants contains a lot of detail about life in the past. Anna grew up on the Czech border in Ostra Gora and is three-quarters Czech. She married a Pole and moved to Kudowa. She says she doesn’t like to talk about her Czech background too much or “manifest my origin”, although she does tell her grandchildren “where I was born, where I come from … they are very keen listeners when I talk about the past”. But she doesn’t complain of any ill-treatment by others, and she was “glad to have those Czech roots, which eventually helped us” when the Germans were being deported from Poland, and her family was allowed to stay. She describes her co-patriots’ desperation and says “my mother was scared because there were rumours that they were taking children away from their mothers”.

She is now the chairperson of the German Minority Association in Klodzko, which has 140 members from the local area. The group has a library and regular meetings. They do not talk about the past though: “What for? … What good will complaining bring?” She perceives Germans to be frugal, clean and tidy, although “perhaps they are a bit less hospitable … you have to phone first before you visit someone”. She thinks the Polish are “not bad either - clean people. Some like to drink a bit”. She perceives herself to be a “European … Well, I’ve got some Czech blood, some German, all mixed with Polish – who could I be? Only a European”.

detailed breakdown

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Section 1  Early history: born in Ostra Góra (formally Scharfenberg), on the Czech border and near Stolowe (Table) Mountains. Grew up speaking Czech and German. Her family stayed when other Germans were deported “because we were partially Czech by origin” – and because of intervention by a kind farmer.
Section 2-3  Notes that most families on the border were international, as “people got married across the boundary”. Recalls “good memories from school”, friends, teacher – interesting details.
Section 4  Domestic life in the past: food, festivals etc. There were no luxuries but she didn’t “know what hunger is” either; “we even helped others, cause there were poor families back then”.
Section 5  Didn’t “feel the war” until her father left for the front line (she was 10). He was killed when he was not far away, on the return home. Learnt Polish after the war: it “was not difficult, we knew Czech, and these two languages are similar”. She “had real good friends among the Poles ... and they helped me a lot, when there was haymaking season or some other hard jobs”. Doesn’t talk about her roots but has “never heard anything bad said to me”.
Section 6-7  The village was physically little changed by the war as “there were no war activities here”. Her parents moved to Kudowa, because “you couldn’t live in Ostra Góra. We lived virtually on the border”, and it was quite isolated. They tried to keep a chicken farm but it was overrun by the local wildlife. “Today, there’s just old nettles growing. The village doesn’t exist anymore”. More detail of customs, games and festivals.
Section 8  Recalls the deportation of the Germans: “they were desperate, they didn’t know what would happen to them”.
Section 9  In 1963, she and husband moved to Kudowa where “life was easier … we didn’t have a farm”. Her children learnt German at school but they weren’t fluent. One daughter died, aged 10, of appendicitis. Tried to set an example to her children, especially “no lying. If you promise something, you have to keep your word”.
Section 10  Wishes she’d asked her mother more about the past, so encourages her grandchildren to question her. She now thinks and prays in Polish, although sometimes prays “in German, when I get to think about the old days”. But basically, she feels “European”.
Section 11  Activities of German Minority Association, of which she is the chair: “making speeches is a serious problem … but the Board is alright. Women only”.
Section 12-13  Doesn’t “hold any grudges against anyone”, although she still feels sad about the German deportation. Is “strongly attached” to mountain life. Remembers the death of her husband, and how the priest helped her through, by giving her the task of deciphering and translating a 250 year-old book..
Section 14  Although she says, “nothing changed in this mountainous area”, she then says “it’s a pity the villages are so deserted. There used to be so many bees, cows and all that. And now it is all empty. People don’t have jobs. That hurts, it’s not the way it should be”.