Josef Kusmič

* 1929

  • “It was count Teufenbach, the count of Drnholec, who brought the Croats to Moravia. The original Starý Přerov was burnt down at that time, and the Croats therefore began building Nový Přerov. They were making clay bricks, not adobe bricks, but black clay bricks, and constructing houses. The roofs were made of reed. The houses were later refurbished, but you can still see some original houses from clay bricks there. When the border was drawn, Starý Přerov, or Alt Prerau, remained in Austria, and Nový Přerov got into Czechoslovakia. Starý Přerov was however no village anymore, it was just a farm, which belonged to Julius Meinl, he had a factory there. Croats were thus making clay bricks in moulds and building houses from them.”

  • “Before they began moving us, father had gone to Húzová to have a look. Before he returned home, we were already gone. I was taking a horse to Novosedly with my brother Petr, he was working there as an accountant, and he said: ´Let’s load it and will go to Novosedly for flour.´ As we were approaching home, hurrying, we met a car and a sowing machine towed behind it. It was so noisy that our horse jumped over a ditch into the field, and I only said: ´Poor machine!´ It turned out to be our machine. They were loading our stuff. Before they transported it to the railway station, the machine got damaged. We had to board the train and go; we were already gone when father returned home. He then went by train, we were waiting at the railway station in Štenberk and father arrived from Přerov. He said: ´We won’t go there, we can’t go there. Half of the roof is missing.´”

  • “My parents didn’t go to a Czech school because a Czech school was established in our village only during the First Republic era. They got German education in school, they wrote in the Kurrent script. When Czechoslovakia was declared, they ordered a German journal, published by Deutscher Kulturverband. They had Germans schools, thus a German journal. None of them even thought at that time that one day it would cost them so much. My uncles were also subscribing to this magazine, my father didn’t. Then after the war an investigation started, they were inquiring who had been subscribing to this German magazine. A postman from the First Republic era had been coming from Novosedly. He left after 1938, but returned again in 1945 and he knew exactly who had been subscribing to this journal, he could name them, and these people’s property was then confiscated. Collaborators and all who had cooperated with them would get a confiscation order. We got it immediately. Our people eventually had to join the army as well because they were Croats. During the mobilization, all, Germans, Croats and Czechs had to join the army. Croats and Germans then stayed there and Czechs were allowed to go home, they didn’t have to be soldiers. Those poor Croats who hadn’t been killed on the front then returned home and the Czechs were pointing at them, saying: ´See them Germans!´ What an injustice! They should’ve gone, too, right? And the uncles who had merely been subscribing to a magazine, ended like this after the war.” “Why weren’t you subscribing to Czech magazines?” “Because they couldn’t speak Czech; they had German schools. That’s why they got the confiscation orders. In the end it turned out that they were better off even with the confiscation. They got paid for everything, whereas we got 35 hellers per square metre of our farm. They got ten or eleven crowns. They ended up better.”

  • “In ´91 (probably 1591, ed.´s note) thirty Croatian families came and suddenly there were a hundred of them. They arrived, married in Přerov and the children in the playground began speaking Czech and they became Croats. This way the Croats multiplied. The Hubení family were no Croats. But the Kusmič family, Mikulič, Křižanič, Vranešic, almost all whose family name ended with Ć, were Croats. But not all of them, perhaps some fifty or sixty percent. The rest were those who married into the family and their children learnt Croatian. Because when the kids came to the playground and couldn’t speak Croatian, we would show them. So they learnt in no time, and they became Croats this way. I can tell you a story about Nešpor. Nešpor was the same age as my brother Ive. His mother was Czech, Mrs. Nešporová, and old Nešpor was Czech as well, but he could already speak Croatian. And Ruda could speak both Croatian and Czech. When we were little, we were going to the farm in Starý Přerov to pick peas. Meinl (Julius Meinl, the owner, ed.´s note) had lot of pea, and a certain Kolbinger from Frélichov was working there, weighting the bags with peas. He asked Nešpor in German: ´How many bags you got?´ He replied: ´Rudolf Nešpor.´ He thought the man was asking his name… The boys were laughing at him, because Ruda, whose mother was Czech, couldn’t speak German. The father later sent him to serve in Austria in order to learn German. He then joined the wehrmacht. His mother was Czech, his father was also Czech, but he could speak Croatian, and Ruda had to join the army, all Croats had to go, even though their parents were Czech. That’s why he had to join the wehrmacht. That’s the way it was.”

  • “Naturally, they wore folk costumes. They borrowed them, we would always come to borrow them from Jure Pevner in Frélichov. His father was a tailor and he was making folk costumes. Jure would then pick them up and get everything ready when we came for them. There was a heap of them. Croats would put them on, and not only the Croats from Frélichov, but also the ones from Přerov and Dobré Pole. People didn’t have old folk costumes at home anymore, they were not wearing them – I mean men. Women continued wearing folk costumes all the time. Even in Húzová the Croatian women were regularly wearing skirts…”

  • “Now, what happened. When the Germans, the soldiers, were running home after the war, the Russians caught three or four of them. They took them to the parish house to these Czech rogues, the partisans. They made the poor guys suffer… they were later working in a bakery, next to our uncle Joza and they asked my aunt where the border was. The man who was to watch over them left and they were doing some work. They escaped through the back, and crossed the nearby border. Some property owner, a new settler on the Mikulić’s farm, just happened to be on a field in Austria. At that time, those who got property which had been confiscated from the Croats were allowed to go to Austria to work in the fields. Whom would they fear? The Russians were there. These soldiers were running away and this man recognized them. He called out: ´Wait!´ and began pursuing them. He was alone and there were three of them, and he hit each of them with a hoe, the soldier fell down, then the other… and he chased them all the way to the cellars in Wildendürnbach. The villagers from Wildendürnbach were then returning from the vineyard and these soldiers were calling at them, asking for help. They saw this man who was beating three other, totally exhausted people; they were getting no food. So they kicked this Czech man’s ass and chased him away. But he came to the farm in Alt Prerau and told his friends what happened and since he got beaten a little bit, the Russians surrounded Wildendürnbach the day after. The mayor had to summon all men, and this man then pointed at those who had given him the beating. One of them was missing, and so his father had to go instead. Those three men were taken to the parish house and beaten to death there. They were beating them for so long till they beat them to death.”

  • “When we were in Húzová and the boys were growing up, there was the grandfather who was a Croat, the grandma, who was a Croat, myself a Croat and my Croatian wife. We spoke only Croatian. When Pepa was two years old, he went to kindergarten. But he couldn’t speak Czech. Minče Pevnerová, who was two years older and who was already attending the kindergarten, then came to us and said: ´The teacher says that you should speak Czech to him.´ Because he wanted some toy and he asked for it in Croatian. They thought that he couldn’t speak Croatian at all, and they insisted that we speak Czech to him. Just imagine. Grandma was a Croat through and through, the same for grandpa. Naturally, we could speak Czech, and so we began speaking Czech to him. When the other son was growing up, more Czech was spoken at home. The boys can understand everything in Croatian, but what for? They speak only Czech to us.”

  • “When we came for the reunion for the first time, we went to our house. The brother-in-law, her brother… we summoned courage and went there. We told them that we had been born there... and they have been expecting us every year since that time. That’s really nice.”

  • “The people from Přerov had a field in Austria. For instance Franta Kusmić also had a field there and he was there every day. We only had four measures, but there were some people who had ten or fifteen measures of field. They were going there all the time. The finance patrol was not even closing the barrier because somebody was passing there all the time.”

  • “There were two hills in Přerov, Young Hill and Old Hill; the Croats had wine cellars there, about five or six of them. Imagine that when the republic was declared and the borderline drawn, the borderline actually ran through one of these cellars. It was a long cellar, and all that was stored in the back, belonged to Austria, and everything in the front was Czechoslovak. They drew the border in such a stupid way!”

  • “They talked with our mom about our arrival to Huzová and the welcome we got there. Well, there were so many of us that somehow we managed to live together. There were eventually more Croats than Czechs there. When the Czechs saw that so many of us were moving there, they began leaving one by one. They said that we were Volhynians. When I was later working in a factory, the guy who was sitting with me during lunch told me: ´We used to live in Húzová, I was working with horses there. But when the Volhynians then began moving in, we ran away.´ I told him: ´You idiot, if only you knew that that Volhynian was me!´ When the Volhynians began moving in, we ran away. But it was us, not Volhynians.”

  • “The people from Přerov were somewhat different than those from Frélichov. When the borderline was drawn, some of our people had all their fields in Austria. In the past it used to be Austro-Hungarian empire, and there was no border, but now when it was made, the cemetery, the last house and some people’s fields lay behind this borderline. People needed passports when they went to their fields. There was a road and a pike and the finance police, but they didn’t give a damn, they kept the pike open all the time, because people and wagons were riding back and forth constantly. The Croats in Přerov were thus somewhat influenced by the Germans. They were actually in Austria all the time, and some of them who didn’t have much to do got crazy. Some were even imprisoned, some joined the NSDAP. But as I said, most of them were those who were subscribing to German newspapers. That’s the way it was. The people from Frélichov were different, they were further away from the border and they weren’t influenced by the Germans so much.”

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    Šternberk, 04.07.2010

    nahrávka pořízena v rámci projektu History and language of Moravian Croats
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We were all Croats at home, but we had to speak Czech to our children

Josef Kusmič
Josef Kusmič
zdroj: Pamět národa - Archiv

  Mr. Josef Kusmič was born in 1929 in Nový Přerov, a Croatian village in southern Moravia. He was the youngest of four brothers, his sister Marie was born during the war. The family spoke Croatian at home, Josef attended Czech schools and then, after the takeover of the Sudetenland, continued in German schools. After his two brothers and the father had to join the German army, he became responsible for the entire household. When the war was drawing to an end and the front passed through Přerov, the Kusmič family house burnt down completely. In 1948 the Kusmičs were displaced to Huzová in the Jeseníky Mountains as one of the first Croatian families. He worked in agriculture there - this is also where his love for horses stems from. He spent his military service in the Auxiliary Technical Battalions. His wife Anna Šalamunová is a Croat from Frélichov. At present both live in Šternberk and they speak Croatian extremely well; they however had to speak Czech to their children.