Kurt Jiří Kotouč

In 1941 his parents were arrested, they died in Auschwitz in 1942; in May 1942 transportation to Terezin, October 1944 to Auschwitz, at the end of October 1944 forced labor in Niederorschel, April 1945 death march to Buchenwald.

Of his family only he and his brother survived.

At the end of 1940 the Gestapo raided our apartment for the first time. They threw the contents of the closets on the floor in the middle of the room. My mother was told to pack some of the things into suitcases, which were then sealed. One of them said all that would be good for the NSDAP – the party. One day after that, father had to go and see the Gestapo. The officer, a German, knew my father from the First World War, he sent him home again. Like all other Jews we had to leave our apartment and move into a three-room apartment, which we shared with two other Jewish families. The Gestapo also raided this apartment, and they arrested my parents. Initially, they were taken to several different prisons in Brno. Once every week we were allowed to take fresh laundry into my father’s institution. At the end of 1941 my parents were taken to a concentration camp and murdered there in 1942.

My brother, five years my senior, and I received permission to move to our grandmother who lived in the country. I was looking forward to getting away from all the harassment in Brno, but things were not better in Mohelno. We were the only Jews in the village, and wearing the yellow star was even more humiliating. We were ordered to join the transportation to Terezin. A brave friend of the family took us and our luggage in his horse-buggy to Trebic. jiri-kotouc That was the last time we were together with our aunt and our grandmother. In separate trains we went to Terezin; from there they deported them to a concentration camp in Poland were they were murdered. On the 6th July the doors of the barracks opened for the first time for the prisoners in the ghetto. The streets were filled with people, and everybody was looking for somebody. I went along with the crowd, not knowing where to go. The worst thing for me was to have no news about my parents.

In the fall of 1944 I was deported to the concentration camp in Auschwitz-Birkenau. There were engineers of the company Junkers, and they were looking for able-bodied people. I signed up as a metal worker, and that was how I got to the concentration camp in Niederorschel. Every day we worked for 12 hours. It was very cold in the factory. We had no underwear, and so I stuffed the paper of cement bags under my clothes. Our foreman treated us decently. He never asked for more than I was able to do. For Christmas he surprised us with a cake. Because of the allied air raids production became more and more complicated. The western frontline was approaching and we were driven on the death march. Exhausted and without orientation we reached Buchenwald after seven days.

On 11th April we were liberated by the Americans. I was the only one who was not in a hurry to get home. What I had seen and experienced in Auschwitz left little hope that my parents and my brother were still alive.

Born 1929 in Brno, divorced, 1 son.

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