Prostějov, I can´t say I had a good time there. When I came there I was six, when I left it for Terezín I was ten. It was four years there; I went to the school only for one and half year. After that I didn’t go to school anymore. We studied in groups, always in some house. We manage to study a bit somehow. After that we were in Terezín, I was there for three years. I stayed all time in Terezín, one of my relative was in ‘Aeltestrat’ and he managed us to stay there and not to go to Auschwitz. I wouldn’t survive it, I was too young. Afterwards he went to Auschwitz too. My father as well. We never knew exactly what happened to him. He went from train to gas.
“1945 to 1948 were difficult years. We came back and I felt very much as a Jew. And they made me feel that I was a Jew.”– “In what way?”– “In every way. I was not Czech, in school, among my friends. I don’t look Jewish, and I was never religious. But every day I felt that I was Jewish.”– “How specifically?” – “It’s hard to say… for instance: our math teacher. Before Terezín, I was in the second grade, and when I returned, they put me to the sixth or seventh grade. And math was already complicated at that level. I was completely lost. He could have said: ‘Stay here after class, I will explain it to you’ but instead he was shouting at me: ‘You are stupid, you don’t know anything, because you are a Jewess.’ This was the teacher at the higher elementary in Prostějov, at the Božena Němcová school. It was a small town, people knew me, they knew that I had returned from a concentration camp.”
“We were interested in Zionism. In Prostějov, there were no Jewish kids of my age. They were only in Slovakia. Later I went to Slovakia. My mother stayed alone in Prostějov. I went to Slovakia for hachshara (preparation for the emigration to Palestine). It was called youth without a home, and I really was without a home, that’s true. When Israel was created and it became possible to emigrate there, we used the opportunity. Before, under the British rule, it was difficult. After the State of Israel was established, we then arrived there in 1949. My mother remained in Czechoslovakia, she was ill and she was receiving her pension, and she did not know how the situation in Israel would be. She then came to Israel in 1959. She emigrated legally, she was already elderly, and she had to sign a document that she was waiving her pension allowance.”
“My name is Ruth Aviram and I was born in Sudetenland in Opava many years ago.” – “When exactly?” – “In 1932, and until 1938 we were living in the Sudetenland, until they threw us out of there. Then we lived in Moravia, until the time we were taken to Terezín. Aviram is a Hebraized name, I was born as Rita Vogel.” – “You were speaking German at home?” – “No, we were speaking in Czech, I was attending a Czech school in Opava for one year, and then in Moravia in Prostějov where Czech was spoken as well. But now I haven’t been speaking Czech for fifty years, so it’s very hard for me to find the right words in Czech. I attended a Czech school. I did not go to school much, because I was not allowed to, but when I was attending school, it was always a Czech school.” – “What did your father do for living?”– “We owned a department store, we were well-off. I was the only child. We were selling everything in that store.”
“In 1942 we were taken to Terezín. I stayed there for three years. Before I returned to Prostějov, I had been with Mr. Přemysl Pitter for six weeks. This was organized by the Czech Red Cross, they provided care for children like me in chateaux which had been confiscated from the Germans. After that, I began attending school in Prostějov. No one asked me what I had been doing all those years, if I had been studying or not. Nobody helped me to become familiar with the school. There were not many Jews in Prostějov after the war, and in my school I was the only one who had returned from a concentration camp. Nobody cared about it. When I think of it today, nobody, not a single teacher actually asked me about my studies. I returned to normal life. It was very difficult. I was a thirteen-year-old girl, almost always alone, and my mother was very ill. She spent a lot of time in the hospital. Nobody asked me about what I was eating, what I was doing, how I was living. It was very hard. I know that it was right after the war, but nobody cared about it. People were totally indifferent. That’s why I later did not seek anyone in Czechoslovakia, and I was not speaking Czech, I did not travel to Czechoslovakia. Only four years ago, that was my first trip, but just for a short time. That’s how I feel about it.”
In my school I was the only one to have returned from a concentration camp. Nobody cared
Ruth Aviram was born in 1932 as Rita Vogel into a family of a tradesman in Opava. After the occupation of the Sudetenland her family was driven away, and they settled with their relatives in Prostějov. In 1942 they were taken by a transport to Terezín. She spent three years in the ghetto, her mother survived the war, but her father and the members of her broader family died in Nazi concentration camps. Thirteen-year-old Rita did not feel well in the post-war Czechoslovakia, where none of her relatives were living anymore. This was one of the main reasons for her changing the name Rita Vogel into Ruth Aviram. She was preparing for her immigration to Palestine with the Zionist youth movement in Slovakia. In 1949 she emigrated to Israel and her mother followed her ten years later. Ruth studied nursing and then she worked as a nurse in Nazareth and Afula. For more than 20 years she has been living in Haifa.