To Andrea, for birthday
Bale. In many languages it means something good: in Persian yes, in Spanish okay (cf. Latin valet), in Istrian Croatian, a beautiful little town, two thousand years old, known in Italian as Valle, which was founded by the Roman legionaries in valle, one valley back from the coast, to defend Pola, the most important Roman port of Istria, against the Hysters attacking hysterically from the Karst mountains. The town has since accepted Christianity, it sometimes resisted and sometimes gave in, under siege, to the the Uskok pirates, it immortalized the visit of Casanova with a memorial plaque, and it somehow avoided the horror of the foibe, in which the Italian population of the peninsula was rounded up into the karst caves by the partisans of Tito and shot. Basically nothing happened.

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In the middle of the maze of medieval walls there is the Castel, the medieval castle converted from the Roman watch-tower, with two rings of streets around it, the entire thing cannot be larger than a hundred meters. Where the road forks from the outer ring towards the Borgo, a suburb, there stands the church of St. Helena, number 27 on the map, a typical Italian Gothic chapel, with a towerless triangular façade.

However, on this façade, so usual for an Italian town, we see something unusual.

The constellation of the cross and the six-pointed star has already lured a number of guidebook writers into hopeless talmudic speculations. György Fehér’s Istria, as well as the Horvát tengerpart (The Croatian coast) by the silver-tongued Sándor Szarka, the unsurpassed juggler of guidebook phrases, both unequivocally state that the prayer house was used for centuries by Catholics and Jews together, hence the double sign.

But such a claim can only be made by someone who has personally never used either a Catholic, or a Jewish prayer house. Beyond the fact that in the Middle Ages, most Christians did not willingly tolerate Jews in the same city, let alone in the same prayer house, and Jews would also not willingly sing our Lord, the God, is One in a place where every symbol seemed a blasphemy against this, how would have they celebrated, for example, Passover, when even the private houses had to be cleared of all fermentable grain, in a place where the Sacrament must permanently be present in the form of bread?

Besides, according to the Jewish Encyclopedia, no Jews ever lived in Bale. The Istrian town councils authorized the establishment of five wealthy Jewish families in five towns – Isola, Pirano, Rovigno, Pola and Veglia – for the purpose of money lending, but from the 17th century, the “monti di pietà”, the pawnshops set up by the Istrian citizenship, gradually took over, and these few Jews left the peninsula for Trieste.

We are wandering the streets of the medieval town with the Hungarian Jewish Cultural Association, and, impressed as we are with this little jewel-box, we try to decipher the liturgical riddle. In the Cathedral they are about to begin the Mass, but it is delayed, because I have detained the priest in the sacristy. “What do you know about this?” “To tell the truth, I’m not from around here, I come from the next town to celebrate Mass. But I, too, have noticed it. The local parish members say that they added the Star of David because St. Helena was a Jew.” He asks for my e-mail address, to investigate further, and to let me know what he finds out.

I have not yet received an e-mail from him, and I did not have the heart to tell him that Empress St. Helena was no Jew. Even if were not already historically incorrect, if would be liturgically impossible. It would probably be better to think that in the eyes of the locals, a third Jew, along with Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary, strengthens the cohesion of Christians and Jews.

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Church on the drill ground

The church of Boletice is the oldest standing Romanesque church in southern Bohemia. Its tower and nave were built in the late 12th century, its rectangular, cross vaulted presbitery was raised a century later in place of the original semicircular apse. Between 1410 and 1420 a sacristy with a superb net vault was added to the north side of the presbitery, certainly by the same Mason Hans from Prague – in the Czech literature, Jan Staněk –, who between 1407 and 1410 created, at the expense of Henry III Rosenberg, the net vault and sacristy of the Český Krumlov cathedral, both similar to that of Boletice. As a master from Prague, in both churches he followed the new, impressive style introduced by Peter Parler in St. Vitus Cathedral and the Charles Bridge in Prague, in the castle of Karlštejn, or in St. Barbara’s Church in Kutná Hora. The village church of Boletice can be regarded as a cousin of such masterpieces.

Net vault of the sacristy of the church of Boletice

This suggests that the church of Boletice was no simple village church. And indeed, the church and the surrounding estates were donated in 1263 by the great art patron, King Ottokar II Přemysl, to the Cistercian monastery of Zlatá Koruna, founded by him some kilometers below Český Krumlov, along the Vltava. The new owners probably used the church actively, as it lies not far from their monastery. In addition to the superb sacristy, that they used the church frequently is suggested by the enlargement of the choir, which thus became suitable for monastic use, and in which 14th-century frescoes were discovered during the restoration of 1991. The Christological cycle, which follows the compositions of contemporary bibliae pauperum, begins on the northern wall with the Annunciation, and ends on the southern wall with the Last Judgment, in which the figure of a Cistercian monk can be seen among the blessed. At the same time, the spiral staircase, which passes up via an external northern tower to the western gallery, as well as the Gothic sitting niches built in the gallery, also refer to a secular owner. This was probably Ulrich II Rosenberg, with whom in 1420 Emperor Sigismund put the monastery of Zlatá Koruna in pawn with all its possessions. The surviving pieces of the former Gothic altars, made between 1390 and 1450, also refer to generous patrons: the statue of St. Nicholas, patron saint of the church, that of St. Catherine, made in the style of the “beautiful Madonnas” of the International Gothic, the Madonna with the Child, and the crucifix, from which the image of Christ was removed after the Good Friday liturgy, and placed on the catafalque usually prepared at one of the altars of the church.

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At the same time, the church also served as the parish church of the neighborhood. Its entrance opened on the northern side instead of the more usual southern one, because the village lay to the north. The southern wall of the nave was once covered by a huge fresco of St. Christopher, which, according to its inscription, “1623 hat Walburga Jungfrau aus Hörwitzl malen lassen”, was commissioned in 1623 by Walburga from the nearby Hörwitzl/Hořičky.

Boletice in the 1920s. Photos of the already mentioned Josef Seidel, photographer of Krumau/Český Krumlov

All this I know from the chapter on Boletice of the monograph 750 let Kájova, published for the 750th anniversary of the nearby pilgrimage church of Kájov. In fact, Boletice is now part of the town of Kájov.

From Kájov no signpost points towards Boletice. On the map, only the name of the narrow Boletická Street suggests that we are on the right track. The road continues on no wider beyond the village, and it soon ends, at least for us.

The successive signboards command us to stop. We arrived at a closed military zone, at the border of the Boletice Military Area, where, according to the English and (bad) German text, entrance is prohibited, and according to the Czech inscription, it is subject to permission.

The Boletice Military Area was established with the decree of 1 July 1950 for the purpose of military exercises, or an eventual concentration of troops here, next to the Austrian and Bavarian borders. The creation of the 300 square kilometer closed area, which embraces a significant part of the highland to the west of Krumlov, required the liquidation of forty-eight villages. Their predominantly German population had been already expelled or deported in 1945-1946. During 1949 the few Czech inhabitants who remained here or recently moved in, were also displaced, and the settlements destroyed. The villages included Beníkovice (Penketitz), Bezděkov (Pösigl), Bílovice (Pilletitz), Bláto (Benetschlag), Boletice (Polletitz), Břevniště (Tussetschlag), Chlumany (Chumau), Dětochov (Tichtihöfen), Dolany (Dollern), Dolní Brzotice (Böhmdorf), Hořičky (Hörwitzl), Horní Brzotice (Perschetitz), Hostínov (Hossen), Hvozd (Hochwald), Jablonec (Ogfolderhaid), Kovářovice (Schmieding), Květná (Blumenau), Květušín (Quitosching), Lomek (Haidl), Loutka (Reith), Lštín (Irresdorf), Maňávka (Böhmisch Haidl), Míšňany (Meisetschlag), Mladoňov (Plattetschlag), Nová Víska (Neudörfel), Nový Špičák (Neu Spitzenberg), Ondřejov (Andreasberg), Osí (Schönfelden), Otice (Ottetstift), Petrov (Peterbach), Podvoří (Podwurst), Polečnice (Neustift), Polná na Šumavě (Stein im Böhmerwald), Pražačka (Pragerstift), Račín (Ratschin), Sádlno (Zodl), Šavlova Lhota (Schlagl), Skelná Huť (Glashütten), Stará Huť (Althütten), Starý Špičák (Alt Spitzenberg), Střemily (Richterhof), Strouhy (Graben), Svíba (Schwiegrub), Třebovice (Siebitz), Vitěšovice (Kriebaum), Vítěšovičtí Uhlíři (Kriebaumkollern), Vlčí Jámy (Wolfsgrub), Vražice (Proßnitz), Zadní Bor (Hinterhaid), Zlatá (Goldberg), as well as a number of farms, mills and other smaller settlements.

Mapire: Polletitz and the neighboring villages on the map of the third Austro-Hungarian military survey (1877-1880) and on Open Street Map, respectively. The area shaded in pink is the military zone. Click on the picture!

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“How can one get to the Boletice church?” I ask the sister in the Kájov pilgrimage church. “Well … maybe you can get permission at the town council.” She accompanies me to the local government. However, they are already closed on Friday afternoon.

An hour later, we are at the Renaissance main square of the other neighbor town, Chvalšiny/Kalsching. This is a veritable city in comparison to Kájov, it even has a museum in an impressive Renaissance arcaded building, the native house of the engineer Joseph Rosenauer, designer of the Baroque timber-floating canal system, through which timber from the Czech Forest was floated, incredibly, over the Alps, to the Danube. Perhaps in the home of the Muses they know more about how those, whose photos of the church sometimes pop up on the net, get into the military zone. The ticket-selling aunt is pleased to help me. She searches for an e-mail in her Google mailbox, sent around just a few weeks ago by the command of the military district as a response to the tourists’ attempts of illegal intrusion, on how to get legally into the area. On Saturday and Sunday the military exercises are suspended. Thus on these days one is permitted to enter into zone “A” of the district, only on foot or bike, free of any further permission.

The next morning at six I leave on foot from the border of Kájov. Three kilometers later I arrive at a barrier. The operator soldier, who looks like the brave robber Rumcajs, watches me curiously. “I’m an art historian, came to see the Boletice church.” He self-evidently lets me pass, obviously my kind of people are everyday guests here.

In the zone, on the main road there are already some road signs for the Saturday and Sunday bicycle visitors, warning that it is prohibited to deviate from the main road. Soon I get to the double building of the headquarters protected by anti-tank obstacles. Here stood the village of Dollern/Dolany, which in 1930 had 57 German inhabitants.

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The road starts to rise to the former Boletice, offering more and more beautiful views of the hill country of Český Krumlov. A plundered chapel along the way. It was tidied up after 1990, and its former holy image replaced with a copy of Neumann’s 1913 “St. Cyril and Methodius convert the Czech people”, a work of folk-inspired Czech national romanticism. At the border of the former village there still stands, albeit without inscription or cross, the chapel dedicated to St. Hubertus, the patron saint of forest people, particularly revered in the German mountains. And from here you can already see the tower of the church of St. Nicholas emerging from the woods.

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A path marked in blue turns down from the asphalt road towards the church hill. A veritable Planet of the Apes feeling: the concrete road, which has not seen a car for seventy years, has been already reconquered by nature, overgrown with moss and shrubs, and partially absorbed by the marsh. It probably has not seen many hikers, either, because it is no beaten path. I advance in damp undergrowth to the knee, desperately swatting at the horse-flies and mosquitoes.

A four-sided holy image column appears among the trees. I’m on the right path. The former road leads up the hill. Ruins of stone walls, former houses, a school building, a cemetery wall. The woods, still regularly cut until the 1990s, by now has overgrown everything. At the end of the road, in front of the church, there are anti-tank obstacles.

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There is the date 1666 above the gate of the churchyard. Entering through the gate, at the base of a German tombstone to the right, there is placed a small candle.  Several other tombstones are lying in the garden, but they have no inscription any more, only the date of 1918 on one, and the round openings for two missing photographs, two empty eye sockets one on the other. Apart from the few meters around the church, everything is overgrown with weeds to the waist. Among the weeds, garden plants run wild, daylily, small, delicate raspberries.

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After the evacuation and destruction of the village, the church of Polletitz long stood intact in the strictly closed military zone. However, from the early 1960s, the beginning of the Czechoslovakian thaw, looters began to raid the zone. They repeatedly broke into the church, stole Gothic and Baroque works of art, and whatever they did not take away, they mostly broke. Therefore in 1964 the remaining works of art – the above statues and the remains of the Baroque altars, benches and furniture – were taken to four different museums, and the bell of the church was requested “on loan” by the parish priest of Lužnice. In 1967, the already empty church served for a scene of František Vláčil’s costume film Údolí včel (Valley of the Bees), which fills up with an imaginary history, templar knights, fortress lords and hermits the Middle Ages of the Böhmerwald, emptied with the expulsion of the Germans. The fanatical ritter, Armin von Heide, comes here to the local priest to let him know that his friend Ondřej lives in sin with his own stepmother in the nearby fortress of Vlkov, that is, Wolf Castle (in reality, the monastery of Kuklov, see the top edge of the map above). The film shows the already empty church interior for five minutes, from 1:18:10 until 1:23:42. The forelorn furniture and the crappy thorn wreaths and crappy rosaries, the crappy statues which try to imitate Catalan Romanesque statues, but instead resemble African totems on the crappy altars in the sacristy and at the two walls of the nave, where no altar could ever stand in a Romanesque church, are all the film offers. But the church itself is glatt kosher.

After the Soviet invasion in 1968, this part of the military zone, lying closest to the Austrian border, was appropriated by the Soviet army. Since then, the Czech authorities had no input into the fate of the church. In 1989, they took it over, in a terrible state, from the retreating Soviet troops. In fact, they began its renovation in the twenty-fourth hour in 1991. The starting point of the renovation is well described in the photos of Monudet (black and white) and gemaerz (color) from 1990, as well as by the pictures of a 2007 concert that took place in the interior, which was conserved in the state of 1989.

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From the clearing in front of the church we look around one more time in the beautiful and desolate mountain landscape. We have a photo and a description in hand, which helps to imagine, what we would have seen from the same point seventy years ago. The author, the theologian Engelbert Schwarzbauer (1877-1960), who was appreciated in his obituary by his fellow exiles as the greatest Catholic priest of the Czech Forest, was born in the neighboring village, Hörwitzl/Hořičky, and went to school in Polletitz/Boletice. In the twelfth year of his exile, and two years before his death, he had an imaginary look around his native land, in one of his last articles written for the journal Glaube und Heimat of the displaced Bohemian Germans. As we lack of the original German text, we translate it from Czech, from the site Kohoutí kříz / ’s Hohnakreiz / the Rooster Cross, devoted to the German literature of the Czech Forest.

The illustration of Engelbert Schwarzbauer’s following article, Glaube und Heimat 1958/5, 216.

“The photograph in front of me shows the church of Polletitz (Boletice), and a part of the village of Polletitz to the left. To the right, just five minutes away on foot, lays Dollern (Dolany), the hometown of Anton Feyrer, the teacher of religion of the municipal school in Bischofteinitz (Horšovský Týn). At the right edge you can see some houses of Krenau (Křenov): this already belongs to the parish of Gojau (Kájov). In the background stands the majestic Schöninger (Kleť) mountain with the Josefsturm (Josefská vež), a popular tourist location for the inhabitants of Krumau (Český Krumlov). Between Krenau and the Schöninger, in the valley lies Losnitz (Lazec), where the Christ of the Passion Plays of Höritz (Hořice), the schoolmaster Johann Bartl saw the light of day. Three kilometers further north is the once charming town of Kalsching (Chvalšin), the former seat of the since then unfortunately deceased Dean Ottomar Rausch. This workaholic father not only performed spiritual care with devotion, but he also passionately researched the history of the region, and collected every bit of information connected with it. As his close friend, I know that he wanted to compile and publish a volume of the biographies of all the eminent personalities who contributed to the prosperity of his beloved Kalsching, or originated from there. He almost finished the biography of his predecessor, the highly respected Dean, Vicar and School-Inspector Gerschtenkorn, whose portrait was in the parish archive. About him they said, that on his visits of inspection in the school of Polletitz he sometimes had a student write on the board the following poem:

du bist ein wahrer Edelsitz
Kalsching liegt zu deinen Füßen,
von dort aus wir dich freundlich grüßen.
you’re a really noble town,
Kalsching lays at your feet,
from where we warmly greet you.

Father Feigl from Kájov, the former parish priest of Polletitz praised very much this poem, and was able to recite it with extraordinary solemnity during his visits. And Polletitz, the former royal possession was a really noble town, indeed.

Not only from Kalsching, but also from Germany, is warm greetings to the now lonely and abandoned former Polletitz, all its former inhabitants, and also all the former inhabitants of Kalsching, by the former Dean, Schwarzbauer.”

The school of Polletitz once and now

Hooray for summer

From today’s flea market in Berlin

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Un cemeterio a orillas del Vltava

La familia más poderosa de la aristocracia bohemia durante el Renacimiento, los Rosenberg, asentó su poder a lo largo del curso superior del río Vltava, al sur del país. Desde Český Krumlov, una de sus residencias familiares, la carretera sube serpenteando hacia el sur en dirección al castillo de Rožmberk, la otra residencia de la familia, y desde allí llega a Vyšší Brod, el magnífico monasterio cisterciense que ellos fundaron. Entre las copas del espeso bosque de pinos que flanquea la carretera se adivina el río Vltava, aquí tan solo un estrecho torrente de montaña que salta ruidoso, brillando al sol y recogiendo al paso otros pequeños arroyos en los que rafters y canoas ponen a prueba su pericia.

Si el viajero busca variedad, justo pasado Krumlov, en Větřní, puede girar a la derecha, ya en la montaña, avanzar por unas carreteritas sinuosas y nada más dejar atrás el pueblo de Bohdalovice verá abrirse ante él una hermosa meseta. Trigales maduros y campos de flores con un aroma fuerte y cargado medran en las laderas amablemente onduladas, hileras de sauces en el valle que excava el arroyo, pinares en las colinas y, a lo lejos, más allá del Vltava, los 900 metros de altura de las cumbres de la cordillera de Poluška. Ni una aldea, ni una granja hasta donde alcanza la vista.

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A trechos, las revueltas del camino entre los campos solo permiten el paso de de un coche pero no veremos ninguno hasta descender, en paralelo al arroyo Strážný, de nuevo al Vltava. Justo al otro lado del río, en la parte alta de una empinada colina, se alza una iglesia gótica blanca como la nieve: la iglesia parroquial de Zátoň, u Ottau en alemán, consagrada a san Juan Bautista.

El Retablo de Zátoň (c. 1530) con la Crucifixión y las escenas de la vida de San Juan Bautista en sus alas laterales, hoy en la colección medieval de la Galería Nacional Checa en el Monasterio de Santa Inés en Praga

El pueblo, hoy con solo nueve habitantes, lo describió el cisterciense Valentin Schmidt en su estudio de 1915, Die Benediktinerpropstei Ottau in Südböhmen, como el asentamiento más antiguo documentado al sur de Bohemia. Aquí, unos pocos cientos de metros más arriba de la iglesia, un cómodo paso permite cruzar el Vltava que ahora, con la actual sequía, se puede también vadear en coche. A su lado se instala hoy el último gran camping para los amantes del rafting antes de llegar al de Český Krumlov, con unos extraordinarios restaurantes de pescado. En la colina de la iglesia se edificó también un castillo que vigilaba el vado. En 1037 fue donado por el príncipe Břetislav I a los benedictinos de Ostrov. Antes de 1310 el castillo fue reemplazado por un priorato benedictino que, a su vez, fue destruido en 1430 durante las guerras husitas. Posteriormente el lugar fue adquirido –al parecer con documentos falsos– por los Rosenberg, quienes alrededor de 1510 construyeron sobre las ruinas del priorato la actual iglesia de estilo gótico tardío, con una hermosa bóveda lierne, así como la casa parroquial. Su divisa heráldica, la rosa de cinco pétalos, que se puede ver en casi todas las ciudades del sur de Bohemia, adorna el ábside de la iglesia.

Al ingresar en el patio del templo al viajero le sorprende un cementerio extraño. Unas piedras truncadas se alinean en filas bien disciplinadas pero sin inscripciones que las identifiquen. La parte superior de alguna está más o menos intacta, con un muñón de hierro que sobresale. Son los pedestales de las cruces que antes marcaban las tumbas. Las cruces de hierro con el paso del tiempo debieron reutilizarse como chatarra. Las pocas que están en pie sobre alguno de los bloques –claramente colocadas de nuevo más tarde– ostentan nombres alemanes.

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Detrás de la iglesia y al otro lado, frente a la tapia del cementerio, varias cruces y lápidas han permanecido más o menos intactas. Probablemente esta parte quedó cubierta de matorrales al poco de la expulsión de la población alemana y, en consecuencia, no convirtieron las cruces en chatarra como ocurrió con las de la zona más accesible. Solo los esmaltes fotográficos que llevaban fueron eliminados durante los años siguientes.

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Al extremo de las dos filas de peanas mutiladas ante la entrada, hay una placa de granito gris de nueva factura con una inscripción en checo y alemán.

Zum Gedenken an alle Menschen, die hier auf diesem Friedhof ihre letzte Ruhe fanden, und deren Gräber größtenteils nicht mer existieren.

Bis zum Jahre 1946 lebten in der Pfarrei Ottau mit seinen damals 14 Pfarrorten mehrheitlich deutschsprachige Bewohner, denen der Böhmerwald seit Jahrhunderten Heimat war.

Die 14 Pfarrorte waren:
En memoria de todos aquellos que encontraron su última morada en este cementerio, y cuyas tumbas en su mayor parte ya no existen.

Hasta 1946 la parroquia de Ottau y los 14 asentamientos que se le adscribían tuvieron habitantes principalmente de habla alemana, para quienes el Bosque de Bohemia fue su patria por muchos siglos.

Los 14 asentamientos de la parroquia eran:

Ottau – Zátoň, Schömern – Všeměry, Stubau – Dubova, Lobiesching – Lověšice, Lobieschinger Ruben – Lověšické Rovné, Stömnitz – Jistebník, Wieles – Běleň, Kropsdorf – Zábraní, Pramies – Branná, Hochdorf (teilweise) – Nahořany (část), Ebenau – Zátoňské Dvory, Hoschlowitz – Hašlovice, Zistl – Dobrné, Luschne – Lužná

Gestiftet im Jahre 2010 von der Pfarrgemeinschaft Ottau im Namen der ehemals 1400 Pfarrangehörigen.Erigido en 2010 por la comunidad parroquial de Ottau, en nombre de los 1400 miembros de la antigua comunidad.

En la puerta de la iglesia de Ottau y, abajo, volviendo a casa de la misa del Domingo de Ramos de 1920. Fotos del fotógrafo Josef Seidel de Krumau / Český Krumlov, de quien hablaremos en otra entrada.

Según Reinhold Fink en Zerstörte Böhmerwaldorte (Los pueblos destruidos del Bosque de Bohemia, 2006), que incluye los datos de 801 pueblos alemanes del sur de Bohemia desaparecidos, en 1930 había en Ottau 48 alemanes y 9 checos; en 2005 quedaban 9 habitantes en total. En Schömern, en 1930, 71 alemanes y 9 checos; para el año 2005 el pueblo había desaparecido. En Stubau en 1930, 70 alemanes y 6 checos; en 2005, 7 habitantes y solo dos casas de la antigua aldea permanecían en pie. En Lobiesching, en 1930, desaparecieron 112 alemanes. En Ruben, en 1930, desaparecieron 69 alemanes. En Stömnitz, en 1930, 96 alemanes y 3 checos; en 2005, quedaban 8 habitantes, con sólo 5 casas en pie de las 25 que tenía. En Wieles, en 1930, 83 alemanes y 4 checos; en 2005, 8 habitantes y 3 de las 16 casas. En Kropsdorf, en 1930, 72 alemanes desaparecieron. En Pramies, en 1930, 42 alemanes. En Hochdorf, en 1930, 143 alemanes y 1 checo, de los que en en 2005 quedaban solo 21 habitantes y 10 de las 29 casas. En Hoschlowitz, en 1930, había 158 alemanes y 7 checos; en 2005, 38 habitantes y 13 de las 31 casas. En Luschne, en 1930, 122 alemanes y 22 checos; en 2005 quedaban 30 habitantes en las 7 casas de las 11 que hubo. En Zistl, en 1930, 94 alemanes y 1 checo; en 2005 se habían reducido a 50 habitantes y había 15 de las 17 casas. La población relativamente grande de los últimos cuatro asentamientos se puede explicar por el hecho de que se sitúan a la orilla del río Vltava, a lo largo de la carretera muy transitada que lleva a Český Krumlov y sus casas parecen haber sido construidas en gran parte en los últimos 15 o 20 años.

Los 14 nombres no incluyen las varias granjas y núcleos de casas con topónimo propio, como el Ziehensackmühle o el molino de Hauber (Haubermühle, Hauberův mlýn), dos kilómetros más abajo de Ottau, en la orilla del Vltava, cuyos habitantes también fueron deportados sin excepción en 1946 y sus asentamientos destruidos.

El molinero Hauber y su esposa, de aquí.

En Mapire, que proyecta sobre Google Maps los mapas de la tercera inspección militar austro-húngara (realizada en Bohemia entre 1877 y 1880), se ve claramente que en el siglo XIX aún había varias aldeas, granjas, capillas, y edificios solitarios que salpicaban la zona, de los que hoy se puede encontrar sólo Slubice / Schlumnitz con sus tres casas y cinco habitantes. Esta es la región montañosa, hermosa, fértil y desierta, sobre el cual sólo hemos estado de paso yendo a Zátoň.

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En las montañas del sur de Bohemia, de población casi puramente alemana –llamadas en alemán Böhmerwald, en checo Šumava y en español Selva o Bosque de Bohemia–, solo en contados lugares hubo alrededor de 1945 el mismo tipo de pogromos sangrientos ejercidos más al norte contra los pobladores alemanes en zonas de población mixta. Fueron cometidos por el ejército checo y por las turbas alentadas por dos fervorosos discursos del presidente Beneš pronunciados en mayo de 1945, día 12 en Brno y día 16 en Praga. En ellos instaba a «la liquidación sin compromiso» de todos los alemanes y húngaros de Checoslovaquia. Aun así, hasta otoño de ese mismo año, unos ochocientos mil alemanes fueron «expulsados ​​súbitamente» («divoký odsun») de sus hogares. Los Decretos Beneš de 25 de octubre privaron a la población alemana de todas sus propiedades, y la Asamblea Nacional del 8 de mayo de 1946 proclamó una amnistía para cualquier delito perpetrado contra ellos hasta el 28 de octubre. Los alemanes que aún quedaban en Bohemia –hasta un total de tres millones de personas, junto con los expulsados ​​anteriormente– fueron reunidos sin previo aviso en enero de 1946 y deportados a Alemania y, en menor medida, a Austria. Durante los desplazamientos, más de doscientos mil alemanes perdieron la vida. Mientras que los pueblos alemanes del norte de Bohemia agonizaban a manos de campesinos checos sin tierra, de jornaleros forzosos húngaros y checos –como el protagonista de Yo serví al rey de Inglaterra, de Hrabal– o de gitanos asentados allí, los del sur de Bohemia fueron simplemente abandonados por el gobierno comunista debido a su proximidad al Telón de Acero, promoviendo así que se despoblaran o incluso, cuando se consideró necesario, enviando a los militares a que los arrasaran.

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En la inscripción de la lápida conmemorativa, el término «Comunidad parroquial de Ottau» merece atención. No se refiere a la comunidad de la parroquia actual de Zátoň, donde los católicos han desaparecido hasta el punto de que, según la ficha de la diócesis de České Budějovice, ya ni se celebra misa en la iglesia parroquial. La «Pfarrgemeinschaft von Ottau» fue devuelta a la vida en 1984 en Hitzhofen de Baviera por Hans Puritscher, oriundo de la cercana Ruben, como una asociación de alemanes desplazados de todos los asentamientos de la antigua parroquia. La Kirta, como se le llama en el dialecto local, ya celebró una sesión festiva en la casa parroquial de Zátoň el 1 de septiembre de 1991, poco después de la Revolución de Terciopelo. Desde entonces han estado restaurando gradualmente la iglesia y el cementerio a su costa, al igual que hacen otras comunidades eclesiásticas expoliadas del Bosque de Bohemia –por ejemplo en la iglesia de peregrinación de Kájov / Gojau– que se recuperan financiadas en gran parte por los alemanes expulsados de los respectivos pueblos. La publicación y la página web del «Förderkreis St. Johannes Enthauptung, Ottau», abierta con este fin, proporciona información regular sobre la evolución de los trabajos.

Anuncio en checo y alemán sobre una lápida: «Para los familiares de la tumba Klampfl. Nosotros, hermanos de Herbert y Erich Klampfl, nacidos en Ebenau, estaríamos encantados de recibir noticias acerca de otros miembros de la familia Klampfl. Si es por teléfono, por favor, solo en alemán. (Número telefónico, correo electrónico)

Una tormenta se acerca desde el Vltava. Dejamos el cementerio a fin de llegar secos a Rosenberg a través de las montañas. Una última foto de la iglesia con las nubes de tormenta. Justo ahora me fijo en los dos edificios laterales abandonados. A la izquierda, la antigua casa parroquial, que fue adquirida y convertida en el «Hotel Fara» (Hotel de la Parroquia») de tres estrellas por un particular durante la fiebre de privatizaciones de 1990. En 1991 la Kirta celebró aquí su primer encuentro. Desde entonces está cerrado y solo sobrevive su sitio web en ruso (!).

El edificio de dos pisos y siete ventanas a la derecha parece haber desempeñado en algún tiempo un papel importante en la vida de la comunidad, tal vez como tienda, casa de un campesino rico o edificio administrativo. Ahora está completamente abandonado, implorando un comprador alemán.

Estamos sentados en Český Krumlov, donde el Vltava entra en la ciudad, en la terraza de madera del hostal ubicado sobre del río. Despunta el día. Mientras escribo, oigo a mis pies el bullir continuo del Vltava, el alboroto de las dos cascadas. Escucho con los auriculares el Vltava de Smetana. En mi mente las imágenes se conjuran con la música mientras el río vive enlazando las gotas de agua, los manantiales, los pequeños arroyos de montaña de la Böhmerwald, juntando el Vltava Frío y el Vltava Caliente. El motivo de Vltava resuena con las danzas de boda de los campesinos checos, las torres imponentes de los antiguos castillos de los caballeros y el río nos dan la bienvenida en la vieja Praga Dorada con el motivo sonando ahora en tono mayor antes de fundirse majestuosamente con el río Elba. El glorioso Vltava checo. Y en la pantalla del ordenador leo ahora el texto del deutschböhmisch Vltava, el himno no oficial de los alemanes expulsados​​.

Bendřich Smetana: Vltava (Mi país, 2º movimiento). Karajan & Orquesta Filarmónica de Berlín

Af d’Wulda, af d’Wulda
scheint d’Sunn a so gulda
geh i über d’Bruck.

Furt schwimman die Scheida
tolaus ullweil weida
und koans kimmt mehr zruck.
Sobre el Vltava, sobre el Vltava
el sol brilla como el oro
mientras voy cruzando el puente

Los troncos bajan flotando
fuera del valle, cada vez más lejos,
y ninguno vuelve nunca más.