Štěpánka Kopřivová

* 1937

  • “We were the last ones to leave Dobré Pole and it was simply because I was ill at that time. I had a fewer and they were waiting for me to get better. Well and somehow the illness gripped me and didn’t want to let go. Maybe my parents helped it a little bit as they didn’t want me to recover so quickly so that we could stay a little longer. Well, and I asked at home why we were staying when all the others had already gone. One day a paper came by mail saying that my mom was supposed to go to Moravia. They told her to go and pick a house. They offered us three places we could choose from. This was on April 15, well actually it was in March. So I went with my mom to Bruntál – we were supposed to go to Jelení nearby Bruntál, where they offered us a house. So we went to look there and oh my God there was so much snow there. My mom kept crying all the way – where were they moving us to! It was a snowy, dark and frozen backwater place. When we got out in Bruntál, we asked for directions and how far away Jelení was. They said it was far, 9 kilometers away. At that point, my mom was 43 old and so it was not really a problem for her. So we walked. We kept walking for an awful long time. Then we ran into a man with a plough. We were lucky as that man explained to us that we must have gone completely crazy as we would never make it there on foot since there was an awful lot of snow. I was a little girl by then. He luckily gave us a hitch and took us to that house. On the way, we chatted and told him why we went there. We learned that they were planning to establish a collective farm there. He dropped us off in front of the house and a woman came to open the door. She had seven kids and was crying because she thought we’d take her house away. Her husband had died and she didn’t want to join the cooperative and wanted to hold out as long as possible. My mom told her she could relax as we didn’t want her house.” “Was she German?” “No, she was Czech. They wanted to move her out because she didn’t want to join the cooperative. Her husband died and she stayed on her own with the children. We stayed for the night at her place and my mom explained to her that we didn’t want her house even if it was for free.”

  • "When we came to Rejchartice, our neighbours were the Čehovskýs. There were a lot of Čehovskýs in Dobré Pole. They’d heated up the house with wood shavings, and so when we arrived, it was warm and cleanly swept. Otherwise it was terrible. They stuffed us into the house, Grandma say down, she had a woollen shawl on, she was shaking, crying, and praying. Then she looked towards the door and said: ‘Johann, what’s that?’ ‘Oh, nothing, just rats.’ ‘What!’ Grandma leapt on to the table and refused to come down until something was done about it. That’s how frightened she was. There was a hole from the yard outside, it was so big that a cat could get through, let alone a common rat. The corners of the gate were chewed up. And Grandma said no, Granddad had to fix it straight away. So Granddad brought in some boards and fixed it. The next day the mayor came and asked: ‘So how did you sleep?’ And Grandma said, well, in such a house full of mice... And he replied: ‘Don’t you worry about it, ma’am. They gnawed up my wedding suit.’ So you can imagine how many mice there were there. Grandma immediately told Granddad: ‘You’ll see about getting a different house, we’re not staying here.’ But we fixed it up, we repaired the whole thing."

  • “We stayed there for a year or two and the weather was really nice. It was unusual such a good weather as usually it is not so nice. Here, there’s constantly snow, this year we had three meters of snow. It’s terrible. Well and that’s how that year 1950 was like. Then, in 1951, 1952 and 1953, we sowed the way we were used to before. My grandma wanted cucumbers so she sowed cucumbers and poppy seeds. We would also sell our produce. And my grandma said to my grandpa: ‘Do you see? They said that nothing would grow here but it does. There was no way it could have grown if they didn’t plant anything’. Well and my grandpa told her to wait and see what was going to happen. And on the third year, a great frost came in the winter and nothing grew after that anymore. We only had dwarfed corn. And then they wanted us to join the collective. My mom told them to take everything from her. That it wasn’t hers anyway.”

  • "When I was a bit older, I fell ill. Mother took me to Mikulov, and we saw a lot of people there. Later I found out it was a death march [of Brno Germans]. They were old people, carrying backpacks and sacks. They were crammed up in front of the Mikulov barracks, some of them fell to the ground. Mother and I couldn’t even cross the road, we had to wait for them to pass by. People fell to the ground, dogs and soldiers didn’t want to let us through until the people had crammed into the barracks. I can still remember all the blood on the ground. The dogs licked it, and people shouted and cried. I remember it even after all these years. Years later, when I married, I heard a report in the radio that said those were Brno Germans who had to go away. They didn’t have anyone, no daughters, no sons, they’d remained, and no one knew what to do with them after the expulsion. They weren’t wanted across the borders, but they weren’t allowed to stay in Brno either."

  • “When I went to the first grade at school, I actually went to the second grade already. That first grade was worthless, it was to no good. They were bombing Austria and thus it was no good for nothing. They said I didn’t know much so they wouldn’t let me pass. But my grandfather was a really keen organizer. He would always make sure we didn’t fall behind at school. So he met with the inspector and when we learned the Lord’s Prayer by heart in Czech, Croatian and German, they let us pass. And those who didn’t know it did not pass. My grandpa said that we knew it at home so had to pass. Thus we passed. We caught up and we passed. But at first they didn’t want to let us pass.”

  • "There was one arsonist there, who’d moved in with a heap of children. I even remember his name was Škarpa. He chose a house in the village with at least eight windows, a big, beautiful house. I don’t know what he didn’t like, but he kept making demands, he kept wanting a slightly higher house, not those low houses. And so the first house burnt down. He took his bunch of children and led them out on to the field. In the meantime the house burnt to ashes, and they moved to a second house. All the neighbours were afraid because he’d set fire to it. I think four houses burnt down like that in quick succession. Simply, if he didn’t like the house any more, he set fire to it."

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We were the last ones to leave Dobré Pole. That was the end already.

Štěpánka Kopřivová, 2016
Štěpánka Kopřivová, 2016
zdroj: Eye Direct

Štěpánka Kopřivová, née Blachová, was born in 1937 in Dobré Pole. Her family was of Croatian extraction and had German roots as well. Her father was drafted to the Wehrmacht and did not come back from the war again. Štěpánka started attending elementary school in 1943, the classes were in German. After 1945, when classes were taught in Czech again, she fist had to master this language, which had been a foreign language to her until then. In 1950, her family was one of the last Croatian families to leave Dobré Pole. They found a new home in Rejchartice in the foothills of the Jeseníky Mountains. However, in the 1960s, the family was driven from here as well (the village was razed to the ground as it had to make space to the newly created military zone Libavá). Štěpánka Kopřivová speaks fluent Croatian until this very day.