Friday , June 9 2023

Sweat tramp. They pushed her away and beat her, yet she refused to hate her at Czechs


The newspaper radiates a surprising balance, intelligence and a spirit of reconciliation. The memoirs of the German actress were also published in Czecha under the slightly misguided title Margarete Schell: The Diary of Prague 1945-1946 (most of the book is not about Prague).

The introduction describes May's riot, shootings, the arrival of revolutionary police officers to her Prague apartment, and the transfer to a German collection center, where she arrived at Strahov and Bystřice. It does not give way to violence against the Germans, which even civilians sometimes did in revolutionary days, and mentions that Soviet soldiers came and sought interns for a clear purpose to all. But Schell was rescued by a Czecha guard, who told the soldiers that only the sick were in the room.

Schell's degree of self-reflection is admirable. Tucked away and deprived of civil rights, she wrote in her diary, "Can we wonder what happened to us?" For example, when I hear the story of a man who has been in a concentration camp for seven months! But if people live with hatred and a desire for revenge, it will not be better in the world. One day a great nation must come and say, Enough of such shameful acts! It must begin again, in peace and without revenge! "

Cruel guard

Some of the expelled Germans shocked the author when she acknowledged that some of the assistant guardians of German nationality behaved worse in her collection than at the Theos – perhaps because of a bad conscience. Who knows what these dedicated aides did during the war.

He calls Werner in particular: “Werner, the bitcoin, was also in charge, he was in charge of the work, and he was in charge of our task, although he was also interned. His wife is at Czecho, but there are other reasons to have such benefits. Anyway, he is becoming more popular at Czechaj's superiors by bullying us as much as possible. Beautiful character! He is more timid than anyone at Czecha's superior. "

But most of Margaret Schell's memories are not occupied by disputes or violent events, which seem to have not been a daily reality for her. Rather it is a detailed account of the deadly camp life in a kind of emptiness, in the span of time when the old order collapsed, but there is no new hope. Everything goes around in a circle. Every day gets tired of food, cigarettes, clothes, disgust and boring hand labor on farms or in the kitchen. And in the evening fear and uncertainty. Where are the relatives? When will the camps end? And if it ends, where should we go? Shall we not end in Siberia? Various rumors spread among the interns, proving false once again.

But there were also moments of little happiness, cheap victories: "At my request, today we were allowed to go to the park. Or else:" I washed and cleaned the linens and uniforms for several officers again. Slowly I am wild. received fifteen cigarettes. Great! One soldier also brought me two tweezers and a cigarette as a present today, which I have long wanted. Especially the eyebrow tweezers. Although many laugh about it, I want to take care of myself even in the camp. "

At the end of the diary, Schell is already in Germany and acknowledges poverty, but at the same time states that "it is necessary to foresee, to freedom." It would be a nice quote at the end, but the most interesting one has yet to come – it's criticism of a book published in Germany in 1957.

Communist propaganda file?

For example, Vertriebenen-Anzeiger from Munich recalls an authentic German actress Schellová's diary "Prague Communists' promotional file". Even more hysterical was the reaction of former actress and writer Olga Barényi, who considers the memories of Margarete Schell scandalous. The basic principle of her thinking is anger and hatred, while Schell is more about reconciliation, an effort to understand and learn from the tragedy of Central Europe. She is calm, seeing suffering from people above as a chain of causes and consequences.

Barényi doesn't let her thread dry, her furious accusations gaining a comic undertone. She blames her for remembering the revolution in 1945, when she herself "didn't pat her nose out of the house" (as if the other actresses were shooting on barricades). She blames her for neglecting the rape of Soviet soldiers, but Schell was not raped, nor were her friends, and it was natural that she did not give the subject much space.

Olga Barényi is most upset when Schell claims that most Czechs are decent. No one wanted to kill her and, with one exception, no one at Czecho beat her in the camp. Sometimes they gave her bread, cigarettes or soap because they knew her as a decent neighbor. Some of Barényi's comments suggest that it is no longer knowledge of history, but personal hatred. Maybe she was envious of Schell being an attractive lady and actress, a more "better society" and, with some exceptions, people treated her more politely. Who knows.

Of course, she thought about her appearance and wanted to wash herself in the camp. But Barényi cannot be forgiven for the fact that she wanted to bathe when others might be worse off, as well as the stories she tried to hide from forced labor (which of course everyone will do).

After work, we were allowed to bring hot water into a bucket. We washed, it was a great gift for us, "Schell noted. Can anyone blame her?

The actress has lost a lot, her privileged comfortable life, a beautiful apartment, relatives, friends, home country. She would have a thousand reasons to complain and blame, yet she could not hate her neighbors at Czecha, but even the Russians who treated cruel civilians and German women especially.

If after all the suffering she could free herself from nationalism and revenge, maybe we could do it.

Sweat tramp

Sweat tramp

Photo: Stanislav Dvořák

The Sudeten Rover is a long-standing series of cultural historical articles. Do you have any suggestions on Sudeten topics? Send them to the author at: [email protected].

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