Aviva Bar-On roz. Winklerová

* 1932  

  • “We were getting very little food, I remember that I was hungry. We used to talk about food with a friend, for example I would say that I would give her bread with cheese and she would give me bread with butter. I felt as if I was really eating the bread. One day mom gave me her stamp for lunch. I came to mom and told her: ´Mom, I was a very good girl today, I ate your lunch.´ Before Terezín, I had been a very picky eater.”

  • “We had to report in the school in Merhaut Street. It was in winter, in January, and I was nine years old. We were allowed to take one suitcase, I don’t know how many kilograms, and I also had a small rucksack on my back, I was cold and it was six in the morning. We were not allowed to ride a tram and it was far away. I remember that I was quite unhappy and that I kept my hand in my daddy’s pocket in order to get warm. We stayed in the school for about two or three days and then on January 28, 1942 we arrived to Bohušovice near Terezín and from there we walked to Terezín.”

  • “People who were to be transported were locked up in the barracks that was next to the train station. It was completely closed off, no one was allowed to go there. They called it the ‘schloyska’ [šlojska in Czech, possibly from German ‘Schloss’, meaning palace, manor house - transl.]. My friends were sent to the schloyska, and I got in there somehow. I was very small, a very clever girl. I wanted to say goodbye to my friends. I took a memory book with me; unfortunately, I forgot to take it with me now. They... one of them wrote: ‘Beďa, I’m leaving. I don’t know if we’ll ever see each other again, so do remember me. Written in the schloyska. Eva Abelesová.’ I’ve got a lot of memories of my friends’ there.”

  • “My grandma and grandpa have died in Terezín. (…) One of the macabre memories I have from there is when the war was drawing to an end and they sent the children to go and empty the columbarium. People who had died in Terezín had been cremated and their ashes placed in cinerary urns. Only the number of the transport was written on those urns. The Germans probably wanted to get rid of this columbarium. We stood in one line and we were handing the urns from one to another and throwing them into the Ohře (Eger) River. Just like when children are playing; there is a Hebrew song about it. Later I realized: ´I had held the urn with the ashes of my grandpa or grandma in my hands and I threw it into the Ohře River.´ Children do not understand it, of course, but this is something terrible.”

  • “In February 1945 there was a transport which went from Terezín to Switzerland. They were selecting only complete families, which meant that nobody went to Auschwitz. We didn’t know anything about the gas chambers. We received the order to board the transport. I don’t know whether dad or uncle knew something about the east. I certainly did not, and my mom probably did not either. Before that, we had to come to Rahm to the SS command. They wanted to see how we looked. I don’t know why, but dad had the courage to tell him that he did not want to go. He probably knew something about the gas chambers. Rahm replied: ´You will go, Winkler.´ We were told that we would go to Switzerland, but we did not believe it. Only when we crossed the border we were able to see that we were in Switzerland.”

  • “Since my year of birth was 1932, I was not admitted to the heim, the housing for youth, as it was called. I was jealous of everybody because I was completely alone and nobody was taking care of me. My mom worked twelve or fourteen hours a day in the mica factory and my dad was in the construction department. He was building various houses, even outside of the ghetto. I was reading a lot, I had some girlfriends there, and nobody cared for me. The memories from Terezín are very painful to me; as I said, none of my girlfriends has returned from there.”

  • “We lived in a magnificent hotel with magnificent surroundings, and we went on wonderful trips. War was still being waged, and we knew nothing of it. Then in May, when the war ended and we started receiving the horrible news of families and those who had died - we hadn’t known that. I remember that my parents were constantly searching, Mum for her brother and her relatives, Dad for his sister and cousins. Back then we didn’t yet know what exactly had happened, we only received fragments of the reports. I remember that, it was awful. I guess I didn’t take that much interest in it, because I was, so to say, still a child, but I do remember the atmosphere, the horror, and the tension, the helplessness. That was very difficult.”

  • “We arrived to Prague and my parents went straight to Miroslav. We were taken care of by some organization, I don’t remember which one it was. There were several of us children and they sent us to a sanatorium. There were two beautiful chateaux close to Prague: Štiřín and Kamenice. Girls were sent to Kamenice and boys went to Štiřín. The environs were beautiful there and we were being fed very nutritious meals. I suffered from bulimia. I don’t know how it happened, but I would eat everything on my plate. I would stay in the dining hall and walk from plate to plate and eat everything (…). I absolutely don’t understand it, I only remember that I just wanted to eat and eat.”

  • “A lot of people died and were ill in Terezín. Diarrhoea was called ‘the terry’ [terezínka in Czech - transl.], and then there was brain inflammation, a lot of people died of that as well. But diarrhoea was called the terry. The song goes thus: ‘When I was lying in Terezín in the children’s infirmary, a doctor came to see me, he checked me thoroughly. He tapped me here, tapped me there, then told me what it was. You have the terry, the terry, the terry, you do. We’ll strangle the bad illness, we’ll stick a plug there, you have the terry, the terry, the terry, you do. When I was lying in Terezín in the children’s infirmary, a doctor came to see me, he checked me thoroughly. He tapped me here, tapped me there, then told me what it was. You have icterus, icterus, icterus, you do. We’ll give you special treatment, a jab in the bum, you have icterus, icterus, icterus, you do.’ That was jaundice, everyone had that, it was an infectious jaundice, so it spread from one to the other.”

  • „Od čtrnácti, patnácti do sedmnácti jsem byla v Brně. Tam přišli zástupci, šlichim, sionistického hnutí, a ti se spojili s dětmi, které zůstaly v Brně. To byla malá skupina, ale vždycky jsme měli v létě i v zimě takové tábory. Tam jsme poprvé slyšela o hnutí sionistů, a potom jsem chtěla jet do Izraele. Oni mluvili o Izraeli, tenkrát jsem poprvé slyšela o Izraeli, o židovství a o všem. Nakonec z té židovské skupiny jsem byla jediná, kdo přijel do Izraele, a ti všichni ostatní tam zůstali. Já jsem byla sionistka, přišla jsem domů a říkala jsem: ´Já jedu do Izraele.´“

  • „Potom začaly docházet listiny Červeného kříže, kdo zůstal naživu. My jsme to nevěděli. To bylo v květnu a teprve v červenci jsme se vrátili do Čech. Tenkrát každý hledal jména svých příbuzných v listinách, které nebyly úplné, takže jsme nevěděli, kdo se zachránil a kdo ne. Až jsme se potom vrátili do Čech, tak jsme se dověděli. Tu hrůzu jsme věděli ve Švýcarsku, ale podrobnosti jsme se dověděli až v Čechách, když jsme se vrátili.“

  • „Můj strýc asi věděl o Osvětimi něco, protože než jsme jeli do Švýcarska, tak jsme museli všichni jít na komandaturu, na vedení SS, tam jsme byli poprvé, a museli jsme jít před Rahma jeden po druhém. Oni chtěli vědět, jak vypadáme, protože nechtěli, aby tam lidé přišli jako múzlmani. V terezíně nebyli múzlmani, ale chtěli, abychom vypadali víceméně dobře. Můj strýček asi věděl o Osvětimi, on měl úžasnou obavu, že řekl Rahmovi, že nechce jet. Rahm mu řekl: „Vy pojedete, Winkler.“ My jsme nevěděli, ale strýc asi věděl o Východě. My jsme v Terezíně nevěděli nic. Jinak by tam bylo nějaké povstání. Kdo o tom věděl, to snad bylo vedení, ale nikdo v Terezíně nevěděl o plynových komorách. – Jak to tom mohl vědět strýček? – Já nevím.“

  • „Jelikož židé byli na velice vysoké úrovni, tak skoro nebylo dítěte, které by si s sebou nevzalo nějakou knihu. Z těch knih tam posbírali a udělali knihovnu. Já jsem chodila do té knihovny a všechno, co mi přišlo pod ruku, jsem četla. Četla jsem i knihy, které byly pro dospělé, a vše, co přišlo do mých rukou, jelikož jsem neměla co dělat. Vždy si na to vzpomínám. Tenkrát mi bylo devět roků, řekněme, a četla jsem Bídníky od Victora Huga. To není právě kniha pro děti, ale četla jsem všechno, co přišlo do mých rukou. To mi úžasně pomohlo. Teď předběhnu několik roků. Po válce jsem přišla do školy, bylo mi třináct roků, pět roků jsem nechodila do školy, a pro mě to byl takový svátek. Maminka šla se mnou poprvé do školy po válce. Mně bylo třináct roků, měla jsem narozeniny, přišly jsme k řediteli a já jsem řekla: „Já jsem nechodila pět let do školy, já musím jít do třetí třídy.“ Představte si třináctileté děvče ve třetí třídě. Ten ředitel říkal: „Víš co, abys šla do páté nebo šesté nebo sedmé třídy, a uvidíme.“ Jelikož jsem tolik četla a nebyla jsem úplně padlá na hlavu, a úroveň byla nízká, tak jsem pak byla nejlepší žačka ve třídě.“

  • „Je to jedna z nejtěžších dob mého života. Dokonce řeknu něco divného, snad to bylo horší než v Terezíně. Řeknu proč. V Terezíně byli všichni v hrozné situaci, všichni měli hlad, všichni bydleli v nelidských podmínkách. Bylo to hrozné. Ale v Brně, my jsme bydleli jako uprchlíci v hrozném bytě, ale lidé, kteří bydleli v Brně, byli ještě ve svých pěkných bytech a měli se krásně, ale my jsme byli uprchlíci. Neměli jsme byt, neměli jsme peníze. Tatínek musel s bratrem, bratrovi bylo tenkrát třináct, čtrnáct, na nucené práce. Oni stavěli železniční trať, nucená práce, samozřejmě, tak ráno brzy opustili dům a vždycky jsme se strachovaly s maminkou, aby se vrátili dřív, než bude doba, kdy jsme nesměli jít ven, po páté.“

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None of my girlfriends has returned

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Aviva Bar-On roz. Winklerová

Aviva Bar-On was born in 1932 as Bedřiška Winklerová in a Jewish family in Miroslav near Brno where her father owned a sawmill. After the occupation of the Sudetenland Miroslav became part of the German territory and the family fled to Brno to stay with their relatives. In 1942 the entire family received the order to board transport to the Terezín ghetto. While in Terezín, Bedřiška’s mother worked in a mica factory. Due to her youth, Bedřiška was not admitted to the Kindersheim and she thus stayed together with mother. At the beginning of February 1945 the whole family left Terezín in a special transport to Switzerland. The Winkler family passed through quarantine and then awaited the end of the war in Switzerland. In July 1945 they returned to Prague together and they continued to Miroslav soon after. In May 1949, Bedřiška and her brother Felix made use of one of the last opportunities to leave Czechoslovakia legally and they emigrated to Israel. At first she lived in a kibbutz, then she studied a course for nurses and later she graduated from sociology. In 1956 she married Asher Braun (Bar-On) who came from Hungary. She has three children and eleven grandchildren. Aviva Bar-On lives in the town Kiryat Ono near Tel Aviv.