Rudi Shclattner and his family were among the many ethnic Germans expulsed after Pres. Edvard Benes ordered their eviction from Czechoslovakia after World War II.
The war had caused so much hatred among the Czechs in Germany that the government forced millions of them out of the country. A total of 800,000 were sent to the Soviet zone, and the rest were sent to the American zone.
Rudi and his family were among those that ended up in the American zone. Fortunately, the family was able to hide their property in the attic of the family home.
Seventy years later, Mr. Schlattner came back to their old house that his father built and which is now used as a kindergarten facility. He only had one purpose: to find out whether his father’s “treasures” were still there in the attic or not.
Accompanied by a group consisting of the mayor of Libouch, the manager of the kindergarten, an archaeologist, and employees of a museum in the nearby town, 80-year-old Mr. Schlattner went back to the house that he left when he was only 13.
After knocking on the wooden panels in the loft, he found a small piece of string hanging from one of the panels, a system set up by his father. His father told him that he would only have to pull the string to detach the boards. Upon pulling the string, two boards detached and revealed a shelter full of items that remained hidden and untouched for 70 years.
Mr. Schlattner’s main concern was that since they left the family home seven decades ago, the secret possessions might have been discovered. The house has undergone roof refurbishments, but all seventy packages were intact under the roof. Mr. Schlattner’s father had hidden them well enough that nobody discovered they were there!
“The packages were very skillfully hidden in the vault of the skylight,” Mr. Schlattner shared. “It was incredible how many things fitted in such a small space. It took more than one hour until we put everything out.”
There were some packages wrapped in brown paper while some objects like skis, hats, clothes hangers, newspapers, and paintings by Josef Stegl who once lived in the house during World War II.
Mr. Tomas Okurka, the museum assigner, said, “We were surprised that so many ordinary things were hidden there. Thanks to the circumstances these objects have a very high historical value.”
The packages were taken to the museum in the town of Usti nad Labem. After they were all unpacked, analyzed, and filed, historians declared them all to be in good condition.
“Such a complete finding of objects hidden by German citizens after the war is very rare in this region,” said museum manager Vaclav Houfek.
Sad to say, Mr. Schlattner will never be able to claim his possession. Because when the Germans were expelled from the country, all of their property were also confiscated. Whatever German property was left behind, including the items found in the shelter, will be owned by the Czech government. The secret treasures will now be held in a museum in the town of Usti nad Labem.
The family home was built between 1928 and 1929 by his father who lived in belief that one day they would return and get it back. Mr. Schlattner, though, is not bitter over the fact that his family’s treasure cannot be returned to him. In fact, he promised to help with the identification of the objects.
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