Michálkovice during World War II

Michálkovice during World War II
The liberation of Michálkovice

Ing. Jiří Kašpárek

The events of the war, the occupation of Czechoslovakia by Nazi Germany, the Holocaust and the liberation struggle directly influenced the lives of all citizens of Michálkovice.

Analysis of very valuable records and documents, carried out by Michálkovice historian Vladislav Maceček, showed that two hundred citizens of Michálkovice were killed in the maelstrom of war events – on battlefields, scaffolds, in prisons, concentration camps, gas chambers, during bombings or while crossing the front line. In a chronicle written by Michálkovice pastor Václav Peter, as well as in archival documents and memories of citizens of Michálkovice, can be found many pieces of information that are worth remembering in the context of the upcoming anniversary.

Personal Memories

I was born during the World War II, and my early childhood was marked by war events to such extent that some moments were engraved into my memory and will stay there forever.

I remember quite vividly that the cellar of our house on Radvanická Street served as a public bomb shelter for neighbours from the surrounding area. It was due to the fact that the basement has concrete walls and its ceiling comprises concrete slabs reinforced with iron. For this reason, the municipal administration selected our basement to become a so-called Luftschutzraum, or basement bomb shelter. To protect the ceiling from a possible collapse during a bombing, the ceiling of the basement was supported by wooden props, like in a mine. Rooms were furnished with bunk beds and basic means of survival. The entrance to this shelter was marked with a large white arrow painted on the facade of the house. During the US air raids launched from airports in northern Italy, my parents and people from the neighbourhood were anxiously listening to radio reports about the direction of bombers and presumed targets of the attack. To track the current position of the aircrafts, they used a special air-raid map with numerical designation of segments. In case of acute danger, we had to move into the bomb shelter. This situation occurred also in late April and early May 1945, when the retreating units of the Wehrmacht and the advancing units of the Red Army were passing through Michálkovice and this operation involved artillery and machine gun fire.
During the war, it was very difficult to supply food, especially meat. All food and other essential goods for daily consumption were rationed – people had ration cards. Therefore, when the retreating German troops were forced to shoot a wounded workhorse near our house, all the people from the neighbourhood, including my grandfather, participated in its dismemberment and triumphantly took home pieces of fresh meat.

While the Wehrmacht troops were retreating, or shall we say escaping, from the Red Army advancing from the centre of Michálkovice towards Radvanice and Petřvald, many German soldiers tried to defect and they were hiding in surrounding forests, gardens and abandoned buildings. Consequently, the Red Army searched Michálkovice and entered some houses. A Russian officer stopped also in our family house, which at that time stood quite alone. He arrived on horseback, tied his horse to the fence and asked if there wasn’t a German deserter somewhere in the neighbourhood. After reassuring him that there are no Germans around, my father invited him to the table and treated him to a bottle of old and cherished cognac. Our Russian guest rocked me, a three-year-old boy, on his knees, remembering his son somewhere in Russia, and eventually gifted me with a fistful of coupons and bills that were valid on the territory of liberated Czechoslovakia.

It was for these and other memories, as well as knowledge I later gained, that I became interested in how Michálkovice survived the period of World War II.

In: Almanach Paměť Ostravy, published by the Ostrava City Library, 2016