The event of the rediscovery of family heirlooms that had been buried away years and generations ago is generally one full of suspense and joy. And if it was something that was packed away seven decades earlier, during the Second World War, it only adds to the element of suspense.
This story is about a man whose father hid away the family possession right before they were forced out of their country. At the time, his father taught him a special way to retrieve the hidden objects, and after 70 years, this man returns to reclaim what is his family's.
Right after the Second World War, Rudi Schlattner and his family abandoned their family home in Czechoslovakia. They had been forced to flee from their home due to an act of mass eviction of ethnic Germans by the Czech government. Schlattner, now aged 80 years, wanted to revisit his old home, and so reached out to the government officials at Libouch, Czach Republic, where his previous home has found new use as a kindergarten.
Once he made it back to his old home, Mr Schlattner headed to the attic, where he located a thin thread hanging from a wooden plank. He pulled it down, and came unfolding out, an entire collection of decades-old possessions.
Mr Schlattner's father had hidden them away right before they fled, and told his son of its existence, and the way to find it. Mr Schlattner had feared for their condition, now after 70 years, because the roof had undergone several modifications since the time they left.
Schlattner's father had hidden away a total of 70 packages, and apparently, had hidden them extremely well. In fact, according to Tomas Okura, a museum director who was present during the dig-up, Mr Schlattner had to hit the planks with a hammer several time before he could locate the objects. But when that did not work, he tried to find a string, and as we know, that did the trick!
There were several packages found, some wrapped in brown paper, and others not. There were a lot of items that were found, which included hats, clothes hangers, newspapers, paintings, and even skis! The packages were also shown to have held umbrellas, paperweights, pens, school tables, unopened cigarettes, badges, books, socks, and sewing kits. And yet, the most interesting thing is the fact that they all are in excellent condition.
It was Schlattner 's father's wish that he be able to come back one day and retrieve what he was leaving behind. And although that did not work out, his son reclaimed their possissions on his behalf, which will now be kept at a museum for display.
Given the circumstances how they were found and their origin time, these objects have been bestowed very high historical value. Okura says, "The packages were very skillfully hidden in the vault of a skylight. It was incredible how many things fit in such a small space. It took more than one hour until we [pulled] everything out."
Given the fact that the finding of hidden "German property" in the region is very rare, these items must go to a museum, although it has not been decided which museum will have them. Despite his poor health, Mr Schlattner has agreed to help out in the identification process of the items, which are presently being verified by a museum.
During the expulsion of ethnic Germans after the war, more than a million civilian German lives were uprooted from the region. The majority of the evacuees eventually moved into American-zoned West Germany. Some 800,000 were moved into the postwar Soviet zone.
Schlattner and his family had moved to Germany after their expulsion, buying themselves just enough time to hide their precious belongings and leave. "We thought we would one day return, and that [we] would find a property there," said Schlattner.