There have been many stories told of secret, hidden possessions that were buried away during years of war or turmoil.
Though they remained still and unseen for decades, their eventual unearthing is always suspenseful.
One man has returned “home” to search for family possessions that his father once hid away right before they were forced to evacuate the country.
His father had taught him a special way of finding the hidden objects, but it wasn’t easy to retrieve them. Seven decades after he last saw them, it was hard to tell whether the items had survived through years of wear and tear.
Thankfully, the objects, which had remained untouched since the years after World War II, were recovered and found to be intact. The Daily Mail spoke with some of those who were involved in the discovery.
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Right After World War II, Rudi Schlattner and his family fled their home in Czechoslovakia. They were forced to evacuate their home due to an act of mass eviction of ethnic Germans by the Czech government.
Schlattner, now in his 80s, wanted to return to his childhood home. He reached out to government officials in Libouch, a village in northwest Czech Republic, where his old home has since been used as a kindergarten.
Once in his childhood home, Mr. Schlattner revealed something utterly incredible. While in the attic, he looked for a small piece of string that hung from one of the wooden panels. After pulling on it, a set of shelves unfolded.
Within these secret shelves sat an entire collection of decades-old possessions.
These were the treasures that Schlattner’s father had hidden away before they evacuated their home. Over the years, Schlattner had feared the destruction and discovery of these possessions, because the roof of the house had undergone numerous repairs.
Schlattner’s father hid a total of 70 packages in the attic, and hid them all extremely well. According to Tomas Okura, a museum director that was present at the finding, Schlattner tapped the panel boards with a small hammer to locate the hidden possessions.
“All of them had the same sound,” Okura told daily Czech newspaper Blesk. “Then, he tried to find a string which was supposed to detach the boards, which was a system set up by his father.”
Some of the packages, which have been left untouched for 70 years, were wrapped in brown paper. Other objects were unwrapped, including hats, clothes hangers, newspapers, paintings, and even skis.
The packages were also shown to have held umbrellas, paper weights, pens, school tables, unopened cigarettes, badges, books, socks, and sewing kits. Everything has been assessed to be in a good working condition.
Schlattner’s father built the home between 1928 and 1929. After leaving home, he always wished to return one day and retrieve his possessions.
The treasures will be kept in a museum in the Czech town of Usti nad Labem. The state can legally keep any and all German property that was left behind during the years after the war.
As of now, all the packages have been taken to a museum, and have been analyzed and filed.
Given the circumstances in which these objects were found, they have been bestowed a high historical value. “The packages were very skillfully hidden in the vault of a skylight,” added Okura.
“It was incredible how many things fit in such a small space. It took more than one hour until we [pulled] everything out.”
According to the manager of the museum that has analyzed the treasures, such a finding of hidden “German property” in the region is very rare.
It hasn’t been decided yet which museum the artifacts will go to, but Schlattner has accepted the fact that he won’t be able to keep them.
Despite his poor health, he has agreed to help with the identification of the possessions.
During the expulsion of ethnic Germans after the war, more than one million civilians were uprooted from their homes. 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 moved to Germany. They had just enough time to hide their belongings before they left.
“We thought we would one day return, and that [we] would find a property there,” said Schlattner.
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h/t: Daily Mail