A memorial to victims killed during a death march

Tragic fates and pointlessly wasted human lives tend to be one cruel cog in the gears of every war. The journey to victory brings with it sacrifices of innocents who were in the wrong place at the wrong time. On April 21, 1945, near the hamlet of Pístov in the Tachov district, the grave awaited a total of 68 prisoners during what was already a death march from Legenfeld to the Flossenbürg concentration camp.

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Event description

Southwest of Mariánské Lázně, a group of people in striped clothes walked a forest-lined road on April 21, 1945. An American plane raced up. Its pilot pulled the trigger before he could realize his tragic mistake. Several dead and wounded (including one SS man) now lay on the ground. The remaining prisoners ran off, but guards in SS uniforms shot them or beat them to death… A monument stands in Pístov in memory of this event.

This journey of death began on April 13 at the Lengelfeld concentration camp. Heading the death march was SS-Sturmscharführer Albert Roller. The SS guards ordered the prisoners to stay lying on the ground as the planes flew by. According to several testimonies, the SS guards fired handguns against the planes, which came back and returned fire. One of the guards also died during the attack. It is said that some of the guards were Latvians; one guard spoke Czech and may have come from nearby Hlučín.

Thirty prisoners were dead after the attack, but the guards killed everyone who was injured, and so by the time Pístov’s Mayor Watzky arrived at the tragedy, there were 48 corpses there. Three more casualties were found near the road; they had died to blows to the forehead. One of the wounded who managed to survive the attack and was thus allowed to continue their journey was the Hungarian prisoner Oskar Krämer.

The bodies of the 58 total victims were buried in a nearby forest. On the orders of the mayor of Mariánské Lázně, their burial at the cemetery was not permitted. Two Russian POWs killed nearby Dolní Kramolín were buried in the same grave as the prisoners from the death march. Two more dead were found a week later, and they were likewise buried in the mass grave.

Sixty-eight victims of the death march of various nationalities are buried in the shared grave: 25 Poles, 6 Italians, 1 Czech, 2 Englishmen, 15 Russians, 5 Hungarians, 2 Belgians, most likely 3 Yugoslavs, 5 Germans, and 4 people of unknown nationality; out of this, 38 identified victims. The Pístov memorial is a registered heritage site. (CEVH)

Memorial to the victims from the death march

Inscription: 25.4.1945 LIDÉ BDĚTE!

(plate) K uctění památky 68 vězňů, obětí fašismu, kteří zahynuli 21.4.1945 na pochodu smrti z Legenfeldu do koncentračního tábora Flossenbürg.

Zur Ehrung des Gedenkens an 68 Gefangene, Opfer des Faschismus, die am 21.4.1945, beim Todesmarsch aus Legenfeld ins Konzentrationslager Flossenbürg umgekommen sind.

For memory of 68 prisoners, vidin´s of fascism, who died during the march of dech from Legenfeld to Flossenbürg concentration camp. 21.4.1945

На вечную память 68 жертв фашизма, которие погибли 21.4.1945 в шествии смерти из Легенфелда до концентрационного лагеря Флоссенбург.

Location: Pístov
Date of events: April 21, 1945

1 - Memorial site:
Memorial to the victims from the death march
25.4.1945 – LIDÉ BDĚTE! (“PEOPLE, PAY HEED!”)
Address: Pístov, place of remembrance on the left above the village on the way in from Martinov
GPS: 49°55'27.120"N, 12°45'59.040"E
Date of installation: April 25, 1965