Libuše Audrlická

* 1924

  • (You described the ruckus when the famous singer came.) Yes, Edith Piaf. She wasn’t so famous yet, but they went crazy – she’s coming to sing for us. She wasn’t that famous then. But later when her book came out and I said that I had talked to her in person, they would tell me: ‘Libuše, don’t tell us nonsense...’ So I would answer: ‘You can read for yourselves.’ Really, she came to the French camp and sang. They gave her tables in the dining room; she was small so she sang on the tables. Back then I was used to different singing, not her style. She sang French chansons but I was used to light operas and such. That was a huge difference, so I didn’t like her much. But we understood some [French] by then, so she told us to be nice to their boys. (The performance: You mentioned that it was long, that the performance was short but then the parting...) Yes, they wouldn’t let her go. She had to talk to everyone; you know, a woman came, a Frenchwoman – and she was capable of anything. I don’t know if she had someone there, perhaps not, but she could talk to them and make them happy. So that was the renowned Edith Piaf, everybody knows her. (You also mentioned her secretary who photographed some of the prisoners.) Yes, she did. And she took care and photographed them, a group, and then she liked one of them so she said, I’ll photograph you, okay? That’s the way it was. I learned of it all, they told me. Someone disappeared and they asked me: ‘Libuše, is anyone missing?’ There were not that many of them, and just a few of us girls, and I said, ‘No’. And they said that the singer who had been there photographed them; they allowed her to. And then she sent them forged documents and they went away.

  • It was on the tenth of March, on mum’s birthday. I remember crying all the way to Wroclawi. I would stop for a moment, and then the tears burst out again. We arrived at ten in the evening and they locked us in a cellar with nothing but benches, gave us something like black coffee and kept us there until the morning. In the morning they sorted us somewhat. About ten girls, me included, went to a Wroclaw suburb (Hausfeld). When we arrived, there were Moravian girls there already and they told us, ‘You have signed up to devil’, and we agreed. It was horrible. The work was not so hard, but the bugs, that was awful. It was even worse than the work. When you know you are lying amidst them and cannot catch them... Mum sent me a torch because I thought they would run away if I light the torch under the blanket, but they didn’t care.

  • Girls, look what’s happening! There were Jews there for forced labour; one of them broke down and the guard, perhaps one of the better ones, sent two healthy ones who dragged him away. And we looked on. And then – horrible screaming; I will never forget it. Dogs tore all three of them apart. Alsatians. It was just horrible. We couldn’t sleep for a long time after that.

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    Hradec Králové, 22.09.2014

    duration: 01:15:37
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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Travelling is my love and I travelled even when I lived in a labour camp

Libuše Audrlická in a period photo
Libuše Audrlická in a period photo
photo: Negativ s.r.o. - press kit k filmu Po dlouhé noci den

Libuše Audrlická (née Kačerovská) was born in Předměřice nad Labem on 17 February 1924. She is the eldest of three sisters. Her father was a carpenter and her mother was a housewife. The witness was on Totaleinsatz forced labour deployment in the Reich from 1943. She worked at a factory and then in the kitchen of a camp for French POW. She married her sister’s brother-in-law in 1944; he worked in Klodzko Land. She left the camp with him and worked in the local hotel’s kitchen. Then she got pregnant and was permitted to return to her parents. After the war, she completed an evening school to become a shop assistant. She was active in the Forced Labour Association (SNN) in the 1990s. She published her book, My Memories of Forced Labour in Klodzko, in 2008. Telling the stories of three women on forced labour, including Libuše Audrlická, the film The Day After a Long Night premiered on 9 June 2011.