Author recounts personal history of German expulsion from Sudetenland
NEW ULM – Erika Stevenson was six years old when Czechoslovakian soldiers came to her grandfather’s farm in the Sudetenland, part of what had been Bohemia in the Czech Republic.
Her family was threatened, their property damaged and their valuable belongings taken as they were given an hour to get a few possessions together and board a truck, then a train. The whole village, Bohemians of German descent, were being expelled from the country in the aftermath of World War II.
Stevenson has written a book about her experiences as a refugee, the loss, the fear, the separation from her family. She talked about her book, “Fighting for Road Apples,” at the New Ulm German-Bohemian Heritage Society’s fall banquet Saturday at Turner Hall.
Stevenson, now living with her husband in Bloomington, Ind., said she decided to write the book after a battle with colon cancer made her realize she needed to put her story down on paper for her children.
Stevenson said the history of Germans in the Sudetenland was a long one. The Germans had been invited to settle in Bohemia for their skills and craftsmanship. But they and the Czechs had never gotten along, due to arguments over which language to use. World War I had exacerbated the rift, which Adolf Hitler exploited in World War II.
A refugee in Germany until she came to America in 1963, Stevenson said it is terrible that the experiences she endured are still going on today in countries around the world.
“To be a refugee, for a child, is a terrible thing,” she said. “No child should have to go through that.”
Stevenson said she is working on another book, covering her life from her arrival in America until today.
To find out more about her book, go to the website fightingforroadapples.com.