* 1923 †︎ 2017
I let my number from concentration lager removed. Here (in Israel) people go out most of the year with short sleeves. As a journalist, it disturbed me. People immediately started to ask, how it was, did you meet my cousin and so on. It was like my visit card, so I took it off. I never regretted. Some people keep saying that it was like honor. What honor? They numbered us as a cattle.
Nobody knew that it will lead to extermination. My parents said: What they can do to us? Ok, we’ll live within one's limits. Jews were based on the historical experience, they knew pogroms, persecutions and poverty but nobody would imagine gas chambers. It was beyond imagination and it still is these days. Even today one can say: How was it possible? How did they succeed to put millions people to chambers? It’s beyond all human experience. Murders, bloody wars, all we have seen in history. That, it was unique, I hope. But no one can be sure.
Our car stopped on the Czech-German border, all people got out and started to sing national anthem “Where is my home”. In this moment I realized it’s no longer my home. I would go to Palestine. In Prague I had nowhere to go, I slept one night in the dormitory near train station. It was only my ex-campmate who had reminded me that I had Czech grand auntie in Prague where I met with my sister. After my return I was all foggy for me. I was only 35 kilograms. I spent some time in sanatorium (nursing home).
Men were strictly forbidden in women’s blocks. It was no longer Theresienstadt but Auschwitz. Men and women were strictly separated. Some capos were better other not. On our way to latrine and lavatories we may sometime meet them. In the middle was a path where you can meet. It was time for short exchange of words. Women gave sometime part of their ration to men. It wasn’t visits but at least some exchange occurs. Kids up to the age of ten years were with their mothers on women’s blocks, boys over ten years stayed with their fathers on men’s blocks.
We founded underground organization, communists had leading role as they had best outside connections. We decided when it came we had to do something. Each of us knew only three persons. You knew person who gave order to you and the person you had to give order to him. I had a bottle with kerosene, someone else had matches. If something happened we had to burn our wooden “blocks”.
It was obvious that we wouldn’t escape. We didn’t have that striped “pajamas” but we had clothes after dead people, we were frumpily dressed with color stripes on shoulder. Without proper dress, documents, money and connection in outside world we wouldn’t survive. Our uprising was made out of frustration. When selection time came we didn’t know: Is it deathtrap or truly just for work.
Ramat Gan, Izrael, 24.02.2008
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I let my number from concentration lager removed
Israeli journalist, writer a translator of Czech literature was born in Prague in 1923. She was active in Zionist movement before and after the war. She went to concentration camp Theresienstadt and then to family camp in Auschwitz where she looked after children. She survived as she was transported in June 1944 to work in Hamburg, Germany. She was in Bergen-Belzen in the end of the war. After the war she worked in United Press office in Prague. In 1949 she went to Israel. In Israel she worked as journalist in Davar newspaper. She was first female journalist in Israel to receive prestigious Sokoloff price. Ruth Bondy passed away on November, the 14th, 2017.