Oldřich Stránský

From June 1941 to September 1943 he was a worker on an SS domain, in December 1943 Auschwitz-Birkenau; he did forced labor in Schwarzheide, until liberation he was in Sachsenhausen; in June 1942 his parents and brother were sent to Treblinka.

No one of his family survived.

The economic crisis in 1929 forced my parents to give up their mill and bakery in Most and to move to my father’s parents’ house in Český Brod. They were grain dealers, and my father became the manager.

The Jewish community was ordered to find 300 Jewish youths as farm laborers. I was not allowed to continue school, and I wanted to work. Since it was only supposed to be for three months I went. The SS had misled us. Until I was deported to Terezin in September 1943 I had to stay, and I was not allowed to travel. I never saw my parents and my brother again. All the Jews from Český Brod were in one transportation. Of 45 people only three returned.

In Auschwitz we had to turn in everything we were carrying or wearing. Even our body hair was shaved. We received clothes that had belonged to former prisoners. oldrich-stransky In my coat I found $ 125 in a pocket. My friend told me, “Here in the camp you can get anything. The currency is cigarettes. If you give me $ 20 I’ll buy some for you, and you can trade them for soup or bread.”

My mother’s sister was also in the camp. She had a relationship to the overseer of the people who carried the corpses. I was allowed to work for him. Every morning we carried the bodies of those who had died in the previous night out of the living quarters. It was good business. Each body that I carried out earned me an extra bowl of soup. Our half-year was coming to an end and we were afraid. Because we knew, hat after that there would be a selection, and that hardly anybody stood a chance. But it turned out to be different. The SS was looking for 1000 men and 800 women to work in Germany. We thought that they just wanted to take us to another camp and then into the gas. But our hope to believe in a miracle to get away from Auschwitz was stronger. Mengele came and decided who was able to work. I was not one of them. My friend said, “Just line up again. You’ll come with us.” I went with them to Germany.

In April 1945 we were free. It took days for the Russians to feed us all. At first they gave us soup, but our bodies were already full of water. In the evening my legs were so swollen that I could not walk. And by morning water had started to collect in my head. I dragged myself to the provision storage of the SS and took whatever edible I could find for us. One of the things was a pan with lard, of which I ate with a spoon. I do not know how I survived this. And this is still my question today. Why did I survive? There were so many moments when I was just lucky.

Project planner, born June 2, 1921 in Most.

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