Irena Racková

Her father was shot in Auschwitz in 1941. On 3.Dec.1941. she, her mother and both her sisters were deported to Terezin. They were moved 12.Dec.1941 to Ghetto Riga; and subsequently moved in summer 1942 labor to camp Kaiserwald; fall 1942 forced labor at Meteor, a factory in Riga; August 1944 concentration camp Stutthof. Did forced labor in several other places; one sister died in a concentration camp.

60 members of her family and close relatives did not survive.

The Ghetto in Riga was outside the town. It consited of many small houses which we were more or less driven into. It was so unbearably cold, colder than we were used to. On the ground outside there were mattresses and other things lying in the snow. The oven in the room was still somewhat warm. We felt that something terrible had happened here. And that was true. The day before the SS had driven Latvian women, children and their families out of those houses and shot them dead in order to make room for us. We were assigned to our work. I worked in a pharmaceutical factory. From time to time, I managed to smuggle gauze bandages for doctors and patients but this was a capital offense.

In the summer of 1942 the ghetto was closed because there were rumors of a rebellion. We were taken to a different camp. Until that fall I worked with my family in the peat bog. Once an SS-man caught a woman taking a potato. He shot at all of us, not caring who he hit. The bullet almost hit me. Another time, we had to line up for roll call; the commander was not satisfied with our line up so he shot every third woman dead. I was lucky; I came second. irena-rackova The concentration camp in Kaiserwald was closed, and my elder sister and I were sent to work in the factory Meteor. My other sister and her husband remained in the camp. We repaired those huge rubber boats that were shot to pieces. The army checked our work thoroughly in order to avoid sabotage. I still had a good watch, which I offered to a sergeant, so that he would make an effort to get our mother to work with us in the factory. She was still in the camp. Now we were together again.

The concentration camp Stutthof was so crowded that I slept outside, although that was forbidden. Our overseers were convicted murderers from Germany. At three in the morning they used whips to beat us to the parade ground. SS-men with dogs patrolled slowly past us, and if they did not like someone they were sent into the gas. We were always careful to look after our mother. We stuck our brown hairs under her white headdress and colored her cheeks with the red wrapping of the chicory coffee to make her look younger and healthier. That way, we saved her. We had walked 120 kilometers in wooden shoes and scratching clothes to reach Lauenburg. More and more new prisoners arrived from other camps. Their state was unbelievable. Once I stood behind a woman who was only wrapped in a blanket. The blanket moved on its own because millions of lice were nesting in it.

Administration employee, born July 23, 1925 in Jicin, née Popperová, 2 sons, widow.

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