Jana Reněe Friesová

Her family was transported to Terezin in December 1942, her father was sent to Auschwitz in 1944 – directly to the gas chamber.

Mother and daughter are the only survivors in the family.

We were a typical Czech family. My parents did not make it clear to me that we were Jewish. I was baptized in the Catholic Church, to protect me from the problems of being a Jew.

The Nuremberg Laws very soon made an impact on Jewish life. I was not allowed to go to school any more, and contacts to my non–Jewish friends were severed. Now my parents had to tell me that we were Jewish, stigmatized by the yellow star. I did not think that was too bad because I was still a little girl, unable to understand the consequences for my future life. Proudly I showed myself in the street and provocatively sat down on the sidewalk to stare at passers-by. irena-renee-friesova But that soon ceased to be fun. All of a sudden we had to share our big apartment with five other Jewish families. My father was arrested. That was at the time R. Heydrich was assassinated. Every day, many people were executed. Posters showed the names of those who had died. Friends were among them.

Terezin was crowded with people – there were more than 60 000. Everyone in our transport had to find their own place they could occupy. I found room for myself in the attic of the barracks. That year we must have had the coldest winter of the century. When I woke up in the morning, there was ice around my eyes. There was a hole in the ceiling through which snow fell into the room. The other rooms in the barracks were occupied with old people from Germany. To escape from the cold I wanted to sleep where they were. I could only bear it for one night. They were in a mentally bad shape. They had trusted the Nazis when they told them that they were taken to a sanatorium. They were ill, they cried; there were excrements on the floor; those people were left to themselves. I moved back to attic. After some months I could stay in the girls’ home, which was closed after the big transports of 1944. I was “lucky” to get out of every transport for which I was registered. Every day I worked for eleven hours in the agricultural department. But the fruits and vegetables we grew were only for the SS and not for the prisoners.

My grandparents, who had loved me and who had made my childhood so happy were killed. My father, the love of my life and my girl friends were all in the same transport to Auschwitz. I secretly joined them in their room in their last night. I said farewell to them. Everybody was sad that I did not spent the last moments with her alone.

I published my memories and experiences in a book titled “Fortress of my Youth”.

Ph.D., born 1927 in Prague, married, 1 daughter.

Share this post on...Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someone
Share this post on...Share on FacebookShare on Google+Tweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someone