Hanuš Bor

* 1950

  • “But him, as a nomeklatura [communist bureaucracy, trans.] staff member, he was apparently at a secret meeting where various organizations, institutions and factories directors were pushed to suppress the tendency to start strikes. The instructions were terrible. We learned it from him - he told us in the heat of the moment, although it was secret - the communists had it quite well organized. They had lists of people who were to be arrested. We, as a strike committee, were on that list, of course. When someone tells you, 'They'll lock you up in Minkovice [prison, trans.] and there you´ll get all your teeth kicked out on the very first day,' you know I started trembling. And when a man who is quite decent says: 'There will be a machine-gun tank at every intersection, and everyone involved will be fired from work, it will be the mildest punishment.' We left the meeting feeling beaten-up and we spoke among ourselves - they will see how he had scared us. We can't tell anyone, if the word spread around, it would be a real mess. We would disrupt the strength of the strike. So we didn't tell them, only the closest ones. Someone got the perfect idea to go and tell a TV editor. It was a terrible trouble for them [the communists], he [the director] almost collapsed because the instruction was secret. Only the nomenklatura staff should have known. They shouldn't have used that as a threat against us.”

  • “At that time, there was a freshly opened exhibition in one of the barracks where they set up a room showing what it looked like when people lived in the ghetto. Mom got in there, I have to say, she was trembling. Then, when she calmed down, she said, 'It's absolutely perfect, that's exactly what it looked like.' There were three or four levels of bunk beds, blankets, suitcases, some personal belongings. Mom said, 'It's absolutely perfect, only one thing is missing. Stench and dirt. When eighty people live together, maintaining any hygiene is a problem. I used to go to work in the office, but the other girls went to fields, for example. And in autumn, as they walked from the field, mud up to their knees, some took off the shoes outside, or knocked the mud off the shoes, but some of them got in and didn't care. ' She said, 'We kept cleaning to keep things tidy.' She also pointed to a bunk bed and said, 'Over there on the second level, where I slept, we spent the last night with my husband before he went to the transport.' This was done commonly. ,Girls used the blankets to create separated space for us to have some privacy. I spent the last night there with my husband. I couldn't turn him down, but I didn't enjoy it. I knew all the girls were listening. Because I'd experienced it many times being on the other side, as a listener. 'It's hard for anyone to imagine.”

  • "After the [Jewish] stars started to be worn, and everything was getting worse and worse, it was at that time that my mom responded to a lonely hearts ad and met her groom. That made her mother happy. A rich groom! His name was Egon Gut, his family had a factory in Dvůr Králové nad Labem. I don't know how many times they met before the wedding. He was much older. Today it is quite normal, but, actually, then it was as well… It was quite common for older well-off men to marry younger women. My mother was nineteen or twenty, he was forty. He was a young man, from today´s point of view. After all, I got married again when I was forty. They agreed, it was arranged. My mother went to Dvůr Králové nad Labem to get married. But at that time the Jews were no longer allowed to travel anywhere, they had to wear a star, they were not allowed to get married without permission, and so on. What my mother told me about it, I may feel it even more intensely being an artist, but it is quite clear what a strong moment it was for her. She got up at four o'clock in the morning, in tears saying goodbye to her mother and brother, who had not been allowed to go to the wedding. She got on the train and went by train to Dvůr Králové nad Labem. And which way does the train go to Dvůr Králové nad Labem? Via Kolín. There, her father was waiting for her at the bus stop. She said: 'We were standing in the train aisle for ten minutes and we were crying because he had to get off at the next stop in Kolín, he also didn't have the permission. And I arrived to Dvůr Králové, got married, and then we all met again in Terezín. '"

  • "They came up with such a thing. There was a custom, internationally recognized, which probably still exists today, that a country in whose coastal waters a ship is wrecked is obliged to accept survivors. So they figured out that they would make the ship crash, the ship which was standing there. They smuggled explosives there, perhaps with a load of coal, and wanted to immobilize it. But because no one was aware of the ship´s condition, or the explosive charge was too large ... It happened on the morning of November 25, 1940 around 10 o'clock. There was an explosion on the ship. My dad was still sleeping below decks when it exploded. He told me that he had been woken up not only by the shock, but primarily by a drum falling on his head. There were so many Jews on the ship that there were musicians enough for three bands. He saw something was happening. The ship tilted, he was a young boy, he had no problem to climb up some hot pipes onto the board, he saw the terrible confusion, the hysteria. He saw that the ship was tilted. It was about 15 meters from the deck into the water, as it had been then on the railway bridge. And because he was a great swimmer, so he swam to the shore only in pants. [He had always been a good swimmer] until his death, half a year before his death we bathed together in the Vltava river and even then he dived into it."

  • During the war, father and his brothers sailed on a boat full of Jewish refugees "Dad always told me that when they were sailing through the Black Sea, the steamer was so overcrowded that – though it was a large ship - it was still leaning to the left or right, and the English-speaking captain roared in a strong voice: 'To the left, to the right! ' to level the ship so that it wouldn´t overturn. They were sailing, it would have been a wonderful journey, they saw Troy, Cyprus from the ship, they watched Piraeus, but they were refugees and didn´t know what would happen to them. When the ship stopped, they weren´t allowed to get out of it. And the ship stopped only to replenish coal and supplies. There was an awful lot of people from all over Europe on the ship, there were Jews speaking various languages, very young children, very old people who, unlike my father's mother, embarked on this adventure for various reasons. In fact, they were the smarter ones, or the luckier ones, if they weren´t unlucky and didn´t get drowned later. Because those who didn't make it, who stayed at home, had a very low chance of survival - and they didn't know yet what they were in for."

  • Full recordings
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    Praha, 31.08.2020

    duration: 02:08:56
    media recorded in project Memory of the Nation: stories from Praha 2
  • 2

    Praha, 09.09.2020

    duration: 01:55:43
    media recorded in project Memory of the Nation: stories from Praha 2
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My parents´fate was a fortunate exception

Actor Hanuš Bor was born on December 26, 1950 in Prague. Both of his parents were Holocaust survivors. Father Pavel Bor, whose original name was Edelstein, fled with his brothers from the Protectorate in 1940 and reached the Palestinian shores on a steamer together with other Jewish refugees. There he experienced the explosion on the ship Patria, on November 25, 1940. He later enlisted in the Czechoslovak unit within the British army and took part in the battles of Tobruk and El Alamein. Hanuš´s mother Gerta Finková came from a Jewish Czech-German family in Sokolov. In 1942, she and her family were transported to the Terezín ghetto, where she managed to survive until the end of the war thanks to the protection of a German office worker whom she had known before. However, the rest of her family perished, as did father’s relatives who remained in the Protectorate. The parents met in 1946, and apart from Hanuš, they also had a daughter. The witness has acted in many films and theatrical productions since preschool age. He first appeared on screen in Zbyněk Brynych’s film Žižkov Romance (1958). He passed the leaving exams at the Jan Neruda Grammar School in Hellichova Street in Malá Strana, and in 1969 he started his studies at DAMU [The Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, trans.], where his tutors were Václav Voska, Vlasta Fabiánová and František Salzer. In 1973, he joined the theatre in Liberec, where he remained until 1990. In Liberec, he married his first wife, the actress Milena Šajdková. They had two daughters, Eliška and Magdaléna. In November 1989 he was a member of the Liberec Theatre strike committee. At the same time he also met his current wife, playwright Jolana Součková. At the beginning of the 1990s, he left for the Alfa Puppet Theatre in Pilsen, and a year later he found employment in the ensemble of the newly founded Labyrinth Theatre (in the building of the former Realistic Theatre, today’s Švandovo Theatre in Smíchov). Since 2007 he has been a member of the ABC Theatre ensemble within the Municipal Theatres of Prague. He has acted in many films (e.g. Hanele, directed by Karel Kachyňa) and television series.