Hana Bořkovcová

* 1927  †︎ 2009

  • "On that morning the roll call came again and they told us that we needed to march much faster on that day than we did on the day before. Those who were unable to march on any further were supposed to stay there. I really couldn't go on anymore, so we went to register to an ugly female warden. She looked at me, said nothing and wrote down my name. Then she looked at my mother and said: 'You still look rather young, do you really want to die so soon?' But my mom wanted to stay with me so she had her name written down. And then – what seemed to be the work of the Lagerkommandant – because they obviously wanted to shoot us, but he didn't. Whereas, I forgot to mention it, in the sickroom, from where my mother took me away, there came another Lagerkommandant and he shot all the girls who were there."

  • "We had to begin wearing stars on our clothing. I've always been terribly enraged when I heard people complaining that they actually minded wearing them, that they perceived it as a great humiliation. The thought that a Jewish star could mean humiliation didn't cross our mind for a second. I've never felt humiliated for having to wear the star. I remember a wonderful experience that my mother had at the time when we already were obliged to wear the star. She was on her way somewhere and the little son of some aunt of ours – I think that his name was Pavlík and he must have been around eight years old – ran to her on the street. My mother told him: 'Pavlíku, go away, you can't talk to me on the street like this'. But he said: 'But auntie, this is terribly important, I have to tell you. Look, we Protestants have also experienced terrible persecutions and we survived it. You'll survive it as well."

  • "I must say that I hardly remember anything of the way there, because we were in such a state when you don't know if you're awake or not. I recall that we travelled for a long time. When we got there, the Germans were screaming 'Raus!' And there, immediately at the train, they split us up, so dad went with my brother and I went with my mother. I had an unheard luck, because me and my mom stayed together. It was because my mother was still young and someone whispered to me that I should say that I was eighteen years old. They therefore sent us both to work."

  • "Then we got back to Prague and we went straight to the apartment of one of our aunts. She opened the door and said: 'At long last you're back'. For one thing, she of course expected us to come to her and secondly, she had no idea how unlikely it was that we actually appeared alive in front of her apartment. My mom asked her if she happened to know something about my dad and Michal but she didn't know anything. We then lived with her for some time before my mother managed to find an apartment. My aunt shared with us everything she had. She gave us clothes, our things which she had kept for us and the little food they had. I just had birthday in that time and my aunt somewhere got a whole loaf of bread and gave it to me for a birthday present because she knew that I longed for having enough bread."

  • "We had to line up for the roll call on a spot called the Bohušovická kotlina basin, where they then counted us from the morning to the evening. We were really frightened because we were all assembled at one place and very exposed there. Beside me stood the father of a girl that I went to the Jewish school in Prague with. He was a professor, professor Woskin. He was a expert on the Talmud. One lady approached him and said to him: 'Mr. professor, if they shoot all of us here, is there going to be something after that?' He said: 'I don't know, but if God wants us to die here, so I'll obediently die'."

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    Praha, 11.01.2009

    duration: 01:14:44
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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I said that I was 18 years old and I was sent to work. My daddy and little brother weren’t so lucky

Hana Bořkovcová in 1945 on a picture from her repatriation card
Hana Bořkovcová in 1945 on a picture from her repatriation card
photo: archiv rodiny Peřichovy

Mrs. Hana Bořkovcová, née Knapp, was born on June 4, 1927, in Prague in an assimilated secular Jewish family. Her father owned a company supplying dental surgeries. After the introduction of laws restricting the lives of Jews in the Protectorate, Hana was expelled from school and continued her studies at a Jewish school. In July 1943, Hana, her parents and her younger brother Michal were deported to the Theresienstadt ghetto, where she worked as an assistant educator of young children. Hana’s family didn’t escape the great wave of transports from Theresienstadt in the fall of 1944. She was deported along with her parents and her brother to Auschwitz. Together with her mother, she passed the selection and after a few days, they were transferred to Kurzbach (today Bukolowo), a labor camp falling under the Gross-Rosen camp complex. In this camp, Hana suffered a severe frostbite to her feet. In January 1945, together with her mother, she set out on a death march from Kurzbach. For both of them, the march ended in the village of Wohlau, where they saw the end of the war. Her father and her brother Michal were murdered in Auschwitz. In the summer of 1945, Hana and her mother returned to Prague. She married and converted to Catholicism. She raised five children and had 16 grandchildren and 23 great-grandchildren. She was the author of several books for children and young people (for e.g. The Strange Girl, Around the World in 80 years, The Forbidden Girls) and the autobiographical novel A Private Conversation. Her diary from the years 1940 – 1946 was published posthumously under the title I’m Writing and the Notebook is on my Knees. Mrs. Hana Bořkovcová died on February 25, 2009.