Shot for picking blueberries
In August 1948, close to Hamry near Nýrsko, Czechoslovaks carried out a blanket sweep on all Bavarian Germans who were in the border zone picking blueberries. It was suspected that some of them had participated in a robbery. During the sweep, 34-year-old German Ludwig Brandl was shot trying to flee from the Czechoslovakian police. The worker Brandl was innocent, he was fleeing only because of a natural fear and his death was completely unnecessary. In the days before the Iron Curtain was completed, the border with Bavaria was more-or-less open and it was crossed by Germans on an almost daily basis. In August, many native Bavarians would earn some extra income by picking blueberries on the Czech side, but apart from these there were also a number of deported Sudeten Germans who were trying to regain and smuggle part of their former property over the border. When one of them stole a horse from a Czech coachman, the Czech police, (National Defence Corps), in Nýrsko ordered all Germans from Bavaria to be detained as, according to contemporary documents, “there was reasonable suspicion that they may have participated in the robbery […], and that the blueberry picking on our territory may merely function as cover for their sinister activities.” Brandl was among those detained, but he panicked and attempted to get away. He was subsequently shot by Sergeant Jan Konarovský. And yet the real robber was caught that very day in Germany, and after some negotiations the stolen horse was returned to Czechoslovakia in exchange for the thirteen detained Germans. Brandl’s body was buried in the parish graveyard in Hamry. No one was prosecuted for his death. The case was taken up in 2003 by the Czech Office for the Documentation and Investigation of the Crimes of Communism, but it was abandoned due to the fact that the responsible policemen had already died.