Magda Barnea roz. Kappová

* 1925  

  • “What happened was that at the end of September and in October 1944, the Germans provided trains for transports of Jews; I still cannot understand why they were still willing to do it at that time. In October I was transported to Auschwitz. At the end of October or at the beginning of November, I don’t remember exactly, I was sent from there to Bergen-Belsen, and I was so lucky, because when they started moving in Jews from all the camps, they sent us to a labour camp, which was a concentration camp as well, but people were being sent there for work. It was called Raguhn and it was somewhere in eastern Germany.”

  • “When they were clearing Terezín up, they sent us in a cargo train to Prague. I was ill, and I made a fuss, saying I wouldn’t board the train. But I did in the end. I was taken to a hospital in Prague. A friend in Terezín gave me a cloak, which had a yellow star on it. When they were taking me to the hospital in the ambulance, the driver told me: ‘Miss, you can take that star off now.’ I replied that I didn’t mind, that I’d gotten used to it. I didn’t mind being a Jew back then.”

  • “In April 1942 we were moved to Terezín. Others have surely talked to you a lot about Terezín. I was young and I perceived life differently than my parents, who obviously did not live together. The whole family got separated. Dad stayed in different barracks than mom, and I stayed in a different place, with the young people. While in Terezín, I mostly worked in agriculture, I was very cunning and I could steal cucumbers and vegetables that we grew there. I would hide them in my trousers and since I was so smart, I was able to steal quite a lot.”

  • “My parents were assigned to a transport on 26 October, but I was protected thanks to my job in agriculture. I had a bad conscience that I was letting them leave as their only daughter. I couldn’t stand it, so I volunteered to the transport. They were missing some people, so they stuck me in the last wagon. My parents were somewhere in the middle, and they never even found out that I had gone with them. And as everyone has already told you, left and right and left... My parents were old, and so I never saw them again. Of the one thousand women who started out in our transport, only a hundred a fifty remained in Auschwitz.”

  • “We worked there (in the camp in Raguhn) in some factory which produced airplanes. I got sick there, and so I haven’t done a lot of work. They sent us away when the place began to be bombed. I can’t believe that they even provided trains for that. They evacuated us and we travelled over Germany by train and we eventually arrived to Terezín. We were the first transport that returned to Terezín. Those who have stayed there, there were some fifteen thousand of them, saw for the first time how we looked, they saw our shaved heads and the rags we wore instead of clothes, we were emaciated, sick and full of lice. The people from Terezín learnt this fact for the first time, they had not known about it. I remember that one of my friends, a girl who was younger than I, kept looking for her mom: ´Where is my mom? She had travelled with you.´ At that time I didn’t have the courage to tell her that of all those transports they have only kept about a hundred of young people alive, and all the others went through the chimneys. I didn’t have the courage to tell her, although I knew it.”

  • “We knew something, but it was all hazy. We had heard of the gas chambers. From the house we [Magda Barnea and four other girls - ed.] were shut inside we could see enormous lights, smoke, and fire. But I had my own opinion, and I didn’t speak with the others about it. That’s one memory, which I still see as it happened. Those were the last days when they still gassed people. Of course we were afraid. But sometimes people have a happy fate - I am here, they didn’t gas me.”

  • “Jewish doctors were forbidden to treat non-Jewish patients. They eventually closed the consulting rooms of nearly all Jewish doctors, only a handful of them remained, and my father was lucky that he was one of the few who were allowed to treat his patients until the transport (…). When somebody wanted to sneak into his office, it was very dangerous. For example the housekeeper. Dad was only allowed to treat Jewish patients. Mom used to say: ´We are not going to be taken to the Gestapo because of some other person.´(…) We lived in Brno in Jezuitská Street, there was the Typos shopping arcade there, and we had two interconnected apartments, we lived in one, and the other was my father’s medical office. You could walk from one to the other. We lived in this apartment for about ten years, and then we were ordered to join the transport.”

  • “ I don’t dig in the past too much. I always shift all the things aside, because I am interested in the future more than in the past, although at my age, this future is already short.”

  • “It was just like everybody describes it, we arrived there at night, ´hey you there, you go there,´ and suddenly we found ourselves in the shower room, suddenly we were shaved and suddenly only a handful of us remained. I do not do that: thinking back on the past all the time. I have said it at the beginning and I say it now: I belong to the present and the future. In Israel, I don’t want to care about the past, although I did work in museums, but that was not my past, that was the past of Israel. I live in the present and in the future. It is a miracle that I’m not mixing in Hebrew words by mistake when I’m talking now. All of us who speak Czech as well as Hebrew have problems with mixing various words, it is almost natural, but I tried to focus and not to include Hebrew words in my speaking.”

  • Full recordings
  • 10

    Tel Aviv, Izrael, 08.12.2016

    (audio)
    duration: 47:32
  • 11

    Omer, Izrael, 08.04.2014

    (audio)
    duration: 56:43
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

I do not indulge in memories, I live for the present and the future

pikt_04164v.jpg (historic)
Magda Barnea roz. Kappová

  Magda Barnea was born in Brno in 1925 as Magda Kappová. She came from a Zionist family, her father was a dentist. In April 1942 she and her parents were taken to the ghetto in Terezín in the transport Ah. She did agricultural work while staying in the ghetto. In September 1944 she was deported to Auschwitz, and after several weeks she was taken from there to Bergen-Belsen. Several weeks later, probably in November 1944, she was sent to a factory in Raguhn in East Germany. In spring 1945 she arrived back to Terezín in an evacuation transport, and she experienced the liberation there. After the war she was sent for a convalescence stay to Slovakia and Switzerland, and then she returned back to her studies which had been interrupted by the war. Shortly after February 1948 she crossed the border to Austria using forged documents which the Zionist movement provided for her. In summer 1949 she arrived to the recently established State of Israel. She married Jan Bramer, who likewise came from Moravia and who adopted the name Dov Barnea after his emigration. Magda Barnea worked in education while living in Israel, and she specialised in teaching children with adaptability difficulties. As a retiree, she now volunteers in museums and archaeology. Magda Barnea lives in Omer near Beersheba.