Mr Pouzar's story

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I worked in Steyr, in a new hall designed for inspecting plane engines. It was a huge hall. Every worker had a wooden step to stand on, the engine was hanging in front of them and could be rotated.

I was responsible for the accounts for the drainage system which led around and across the hall. I also saw how badly they treated people from the Mauthausen concentration camp. The worst off were Poles. They had to wear a mark – a yellow square with a purple P in it. They were not allowed into the tram, they were not allowed to enter pubs... They were persecuted worse than us.

And my boss from Linz led me into this town, so I stayed there for two months and had to remeasure the whole drainage. I had a badge that allowed me to go into the hall and nowhere else. And to help me, they gave an old man at my disposal. He was some old foreman and he was from Sudeten. He could speak Czech. That's why they chose him. You could see how angry he was. To work for some young Czech? Him? And I made him work hard. Those holes were sometimes even 3 metres deep and he had to climb down, measure everything, discover all the turns and crossing... And it made him quite exhausted. Once he told me that we should have some rest. And I replied: “What? There are people dying at the front and you want to have rest?” And I immediately sent him into the hole, three meters deep. He was furious, but couldn't do anything. I was a bit of a badass, too.

We had facing tables, me and my boss. All others were eventually called into arms, so we ended up in one office, just the two of us, two typists and an attorney – she was and old bat from Wells. And she was evil. She did not like Czechs. And this I remember. There had been a Czech accountant before, some Franta Roš. And he told me: “Man, when you are on the phone with your brother and she hears it, she says – I had to leave the office, I can't stand the Czech language, it makes me sick.” Later I sat with my boss and she was sitting nearby. During the war, there were small dictionaries – Czech-German, French-German, Italian-German... and they all had different colors. The Czech ones were always red. And I was sitting there and saw that my boss held the red dictionary and was flipping through it. The war was not going too well for Germany at that time. And he was sitting there, reading various words and asking whether or not he pronounced them correctly. And I thought: “The attorney is listening to us and how sick she always was from hearing our language.” And my German boss told me: “We wanted to build nice quarters here, you would have chosen whichever you liked... Maybe we will cooperate again in your country, or in Russia.”

They thought that after the war they will be forced to work for us, that's why he was learning those words. And I was wondering about lady Hürtinger. Was she feeling nauseated again? It was during the time when all companies had to have a black board with this text: Feind hört mich (the enemy is listening). I was never to be left alone in the office. And if there was a meeting, then without me. And suddenly the boss himself was learning Czech. Out of nowhere he started yelling at me quite roughly – they got some orders and so he tried to intimidate me. And as I was standing there I told him: “Kiss my ass, you fucker” He looked at me. He did not understand, but he knew from the voice that it was something. He shut up and was good from that time on. I just could not stand it anymore.

I lived twenty metres from office, near the end of the war, and since all coworkers lived somewhere in the city they were forced to give me the keys. I wasn't allowed to be there alone, but they all had to give me the keys, because I lived nearby. In the office there were paintings of Hitler, Göering and others. And in the morning I came into the office and they were all gone. “Oh God, I thought, I have the keys and I was here first...” And in the meantime one of the typists came. “Trude...” I started, and she told me: “It was me. Before I went home yesterday I burnt them”. And all that came into the office afterwards just looked down and said nothing. That was the time, they were scared like hell.

By the end of the war there were two pilots flying around and whenever they saw some movement in the streets they started shooting. And we had a wooden roof. I was in there with a foreman and so I said: “This roof won't protect us, let's get out.” He did not want to. I ran away. There was a passage in the house across the street and I ran into there. As I turned into the house, bricks started flying around. Two metres back and I would have gotten them on my back. A bomb had fallen onto the opposite house. Our office – a wooden shack was in ruins. The house where I hid was already full of Germans from neighboring houses. I found a place near a wall and stayed until morning. Although the house was full of Germans. They did nothing. It was too crowded in there. They were muttering something amongst themselves but left me alone. I ate a piece of bread I had with me. The next day they announced that the war is over.

A little bit further there lived 4 Czechs. I did not know them but we went together to Krumlov. There was something white hanging from all windows – blankets, towels... And the four of us were walking and suddenly – Americans were walking towards us. There was no one else, only us. A jeep was driving towards us there was a German officer sitting on the car hood. They had him so that no German would shoot at them. Soldiers with rifles were marching on both sides and the four of us were welcoming them, I was waving.

I lived on Ohrfar, that is a suburb across Danube. Once I headed into Linz – Americans were already there. I went into a restaurant where we used to go before. I ate there. The waitress and others were Czechs so I got food plus two cakes and they waved as in “no charge”. After that it was getting dark so I headed back, across the bridge. American soldiers were there. They let no one across. From the other side Germans were coming, wanting to go home. German women were standing there, crying and I went. As soon as I came they lifted their guns, the commander saluted me, let me through and then the guns returned to their original positions. Germans could not take a single step. It was a good time for us. Some officer kept patting me on the shoulder saying: “Good people, good people” That's how we experienced the end of war. We were even driving back to Czech republic. But as soon as we got to Russian zone they took the car from us, and we had to continue on foot, into Kaplice and then by train.

When we got to Kaplice we saw that all the employers were mostly ours. They yelled: “We are going to Budějovice, you don't have to pay”. And next to us, a train full of injured German soldiers. They were moaning, crying. And there were still lots of Germans in the train station. Do you think somebody gave the soldiers at least water? To their own people? Not even one. I got home 15 May.

And I like painting the best. I like to have a happy outlook of life. Everything can be created as a caricature. I do not make fun of funerals, I cannot do that. But those ordinary human weaknesses. Just look at songs, poems, plays... It is always a man vs a woman. There is nothing else. Be it a novel, a play, a song... There is no better topic. And I like to paint it as well...

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