Toman Brod

With his mother and brother he was transported to Terezin on 27th July 1942, then in December 1943 to Auschwitz,after that, in October 1944 labor camp Groß-Rosen until liberation.

He is the only survivor of his family.

Freddy Hirsch, a charismatic Jew from Germany was the tutor of the youths and also the founder of the children’s homes in Terezin. His position was respected by the Germans, and he was able to do a lot of good for the young people. Secretly we were taught. There were even two physicians, who gave lectures in sexology. None of those 14 -15 – year old boys asked silly questions. They were seriously interested and understood that this is an important part of life. Life in the ghetto made us grow up fast.

The family camp Birkenau was an outlet and an extermination branch of the concentration camp in Auschwitz. We were in the second transport to arrive in Birkenau in December 1943, along with 5000 prisoners, tagged with reference to “special treatment”: This meant six moths of quarantine and after that extermination by gas. Freddy Hirsch arrived with the September transport. He had already been in contact with the SS in order to negotiate better conditions for the children. One block was vacated. The aim was to protect the smallest children from the worst, and to distract them with games. toman-brod They could spend all day inside, had better food, and were allowed to visit their parents. The half-year-term of the September group was about to end. A resistance group, headed by Freddy Hirsch, was forming. They wanted to get a hold of weapons and fuel in order to cause confusion, so that there might be an opportunity to escape. The special command had already received orders to prepare the gas chambers. They also had a secret organization, which sent a message to Freddy Hirsch. They told him, “You have been sentenced to death. You are the only hope. You will have to decide.” And he asked, “But what will happen to my children?” They explained to him, “The children are lost. But maybe we will be able to save some of them.” He asked for one hour to think everything over. When the intermediaries returned, Freddy Hirsch had already poisoned himself.

In July 1944 the family camp of Birkenau was closed. Those of the men and women who were able to work were deported to other camps. We boys stayed. One courageous boy from our group went to Mengele and told him, “We are 15 years old as strong enough to work. We are asking you to check whether we might have a chance.” The last oft the selections took place in the children’s block, and indeed 100 of us were sent to the men’s camp. In the summer of 1944, when we were working in the courtyard of the crematorium, thousands of Hungarian Jews arrived at the camp. A German officer wept and was sad when he had to witness mothers with their children sent into the gas chamber; he was not able to do anything. In August 1944 prisoners from Lodz arrived. Among them, I found my uncle and his son. I was working outside and happened to see a group from the women’s camp, and among the people were my aunt and her daughter. I managed to shout some words at them: “I saw Uncle with Mario, they are alive!”

Meanwhile, the political situation had changed. The allies landed in Normandy and the Red Army was approaching the Reich. The Germans became more careful. Transports of workers to Germany were organized. My brother was among them. I do not know what happened to him. My mother did not pass selection. In Terezin she was diagnosed with cancer and a part of her breast removed. She had to stay in the camp with the other invalids and had to accept her death sentence.

Historian, born 1929 in Prague, married, 1 daughter.

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