Eva Herrmannová

She stayed in Terezin from June 1943 until the end of the war; 15 members of her family did not survive.

I had a very happy childhood until 1938. I was an only daughter. My father was the owner of the second biggest department store in Opava, were we lived. He had about 100 employees. In our region Henlein’s party was strongly present, and soon the initial disturbances began to escalate. The windows of our shop were smashed. Torchlight processions marched through the streets with all kinds of slogans such as “Back to the Reich” and “Out with Jews “. We thought that these were just excesses, and my father said that the people of Goethe, Schiller and Beethoven would never allow this to happen. Soon my family had to leave town. The company was aryanized and everything was confiscated. After some time all the family had assembled in Prostejov. The grandparents remained in Opava. We thought the old people would be spared.

In 1942 all of my father’s family were sent to Terezin, including my grandparents, who were then over 80 years old. We lived from one day to the next and in a hurry. From morning to evening my parents were thinking about what to do or not to doto avoid being deported. eva-herrmannova Many plans were discussed. I was not supposed to know, but I listened at the door. One plan was to somehow hide me; another was that my mother would escape with me to Hungary where the persecution of Jews was more moderate.

Then in June of 1943, I had to leave for Terezin on my own. Children from mixed marriages like in my case were only taken when they were 14. There was some kind of self-governing body which allowed youths to share accommodation. That made life more bearable. We were exposed to less misery. From the age of 14 daily work was a duty. Among other things, I volunteered to work in the transportation help group. We assisted those assigned for further transportation to prepare and organized them into groups. If a number was missing, the SS started to fuss, and they enforced their ideas with dogs and whips. We wanted to avoid this. But we were not allowed to accompany people those few meters from the Hamburger barracks to the platform of the train. And so we had to witness old and weak people and mothers with their children having problems boarding, being driven into the coaches by SS-men who used brutal force.

My time in Terezin is characterized by deep and intensive experiences. One of those was my having a part in the children’s opera “Brundibar“ in which I sang in almost fifty performances. Or also in the choir of the adults led by the conductors Rafael Schächter and Karel Berman. I was often exposed to borderline situations which, in a positive as well as a negative meaning, had nothing in common with normal life. This has influenced my judgment and my consciousness all my life up until today.

Musicologist, born 1929 in Vienna, 2 children, widow.

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