Jehuda Bacon

* 1929  

  • “Our neighbors were the ones who worked in the crematorium. They were put in quarantine, so no one could speak with them. I went there and I asked them questions about what they were doing there, just out of curiosity, you know I was a curios young boy. When we were later to work with the ashes from the crematorium, we had to cover the frozen pathways with the ashes to prevent people from slipping on the ice. I had a great overview of what’s happening in the camp, how it works.”

  • “When I first went to the theater after the war, I was hunted by thoughts like: how many people are in the room? How long would it take gas them? How much hair would they leave behind? We would see bags full of human hair. It was our job to take the bags away. We didn’t do it, we were little boys. But we saw all the bags with hair. We saw all the bags with the hair that originated with those murdered. We also saw the endless bags with their clothes. We did not see people as people. When we saw an old man we thought that he should have been in the crematorium a long time ago.”

  • “We distrusted everyone, we were wild, we thought in a different way and so on ... When I saw (again) the first funeral, six horses and one dead, so I thought these people were crazy. One dead man and they were making such a fuss because of one dead man. A few weeks ago I had seen heaps of dead bodies and cannibalism at Mauthausen. And now all this because of one dead. I thought those people were crazy.”

  • "(...) We came to Prague to see Pitter. (...) The Czechs – and all people in general – should know more about that man because he really was a unique person. None of all the children that were being cared for by him forgot about him. He had a tremendously positive effect on us after all the horrors that we had experienced. We couldn’t believe that anyone could be good to us and not want anything in return from us. And suddenly there was this man who wanted nothing from us and just gave us love in the highest sense. After all those years spent in the camps and the horrors, we had completely forgotten what kindness was.”

  • “It was tough. Who helped? We were like brothers. When someone was weak, two of us took him underneath his arm because those who couldn’t go on anymore and stayed behind, they were shot. (...) My dad was fifty-two years old. In Auschwitz, it's like seventy. And he looked like if he was seventy years old. Praise God that he went into the gas. There, he only suffered for fifteen minutes. What kind of suffering I had to go through he wouldn’t take.”

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    Jeruzalém, Izrael, 11.11.2012

    (audio)
    duration: 02:05:43
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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Thank God, I could cry again. I was a human being again.

In his atelier at Borochov Street, Jerusalem 1959
In his atelier at Borochov Street, Jerusalem 1959
photo: archiv pamětníka

Israeli painter, graphic artist and professor at the prestigious Bezalel Art Academy in Jerusalem Yehuda Bacon was born in 1929 in Ostrava and come from a family influenced by the Jewish orthodoxy. In the fall of 1942, he was deported to the Theresienstadt ghetto and in December 1943, he was deported to the extermination camp Auschwitz II-Birkenau. Until July 1944, he lived in the so-called Theresienstadt family camp as one of the “Birkenau Boys”, he managed to survive the dismantling of the camp. In January 1945, he took part in the death march to Gunskirchen, an ancillary camp of the concentration camp Mauthausen-Gusen. After the war he lived in the Štiřín castle, in a sanatorium established by Přemysl Pitter. In the spring of 1946, he moved to Palestine. In Israel, he studied at the Bezalel Art Academy in Jerusalem where he later also taught. He’s known as a painter and a graphic artist. His works are present in the collections of museums and galleries in a number of different countries around the world. In 2011, his works were exhibited at the Czech Centre in Prague. He lives and works in Jerusalem.