My father was an engineer but he didn’t like it much, so he became a clerk in a company in Prague. My mother produced belts for women’s dresses - it was a new fashion. Both parents worked, I had a nurse-maid, she looked after me, she spoke to me only in Czech. (…) My parents spoke both languages, my father spoke more Czech. (…) Between them, they spoke mostly German, to me both, Czech and German. So it changed.
My name is Jehuda Bauer, I was born in Prague in 1926 and we left Czechoslovakia in March 1939 when I wasn’t 13 years old yet. I went to the 6th Elementary school for boys in Prague – Vinohrady. In the first years I had classes in Czech and Czech is my mother tongue. That’s all I can say for the beginning.
"On March 14, 1939, in the evening, we were not the only ones in the train. The whole train was full of Jews with papers of immigration to Palestine and Cezch and German social democrats who were afraid that the Germans were going to march into the country. One of the people was a friend of my father, his name was Max Brod. On that night the Germans occupied Bohemia. We had no idea about it, of course. When we got to Moravská Ostrava, on the border to Poland, Germans entered the train. They had svastika on their uniforms, probably the SA. They went through the train, back and forth, checking the papers of the passengers. There was a Czech train dispatcher, they had these swatters with green and red sides. He put up the green side and the locomotive started to move. It crossed the border and stopped a couple of hundred meters behind it. The Germans had to get out (prematurely). We continued.
First of all there are living documents. Lots of people gave their testimony after that. That’s equally important as documents, because documents are often produced in order to mislead, to tell stories that never happened. So you have to check both very carefully - oral interviews as well as the documents. I can give you examples of documents from that area that are completely made up. Oral documentation is not accurate; you have to be careful with both sources.
"We have to know exactly what happened. It’s only in the last ten to fifteen years that we - I mean the community of historians - have reached the conclusion that the Holocaust was not pre-conceived. The Holocaust developed in stages on the basis of a radical genocide ideology. Such an ideology can come again, so the holocaust is not unique. If it was unique, it couldn't happen again. That’s not true, it can happen again. Not only to Jews, but to others as well, it can happen to anyone, anyone can perpetrate it.
"I'll never forget this. I went to a seminar at school in Beer-Sheva, you know, eighteen-year-old youngsters. One young man sitting in the last row stood up when I was talking about the gas chambers and concentration camps and he asked: “Where was our air force?” In the year 1943. Without thinking. This is the reaction of a traumatized society.
The Holocaust was developed in stages on the basis of a radical genocide ideology. Such an ideology can come again
Professor and historian at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Yehuda Bauer, was born in 1926 in a Czech-German Jewish family in Prague. His father had strong Zionist convictions; his family legally emigrated to British mandated Palestine in March 1939. On March 14, they boarded a train to Poland - the last train before the occupation by the Germans. Jehuda Bauer attended high school in Haifa and at the age of sixteen - inspired by his teacher - he decided to dedicate himself to studying history. In 1946, he got a British scholarship to the Cardiff University in Wales. He interrupted his studies to fight in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war of independence. He completed his studies in 1952 and he received his PhD. title in 1960 at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He is a Professor of Holocaust Studies at the Avraham Harman Institute of Contemporary Jewry at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and a researcher at Yad Vashem Memorial in Jerusalem.