Růžena Brösslerová roz. Vogelová

* 1927  †︎ 2017

  • “My birthday is on the thirtieth of March. I’ll never forget that. The evening before, as we were lying on the mattresses, some lady came in, a real lady, and she said: ‘Is it Y here...?’ We were Y transport, so everyone had their number, and the number was enough, we didn’t need names. But she came up and said: ‘Does Růžena Vogelová live in this room?’ I said: ‘That’s me.’ She introduced herself, she was from Brno, I forgot the name, and she said: ‘It’s your birthday tomorrow, and the Jugendfürsorge congratulates you, and here’s a little present.’ The Zionists were about by then. And she gave me - in Terezín - a little cake. I was awfully surprised, I thanked her profusely and went to Mum and asked her: ‘Mum, what’s Jugendfürsorge?’ Mum said: ‘Say it out slowly and you’ll understand what it is. Jugend-für-sorge. Care for youth.’ ‘There’s youth care here?’ That was my first impression, or not impression, but the first thing in Terezín that surprised and pleased me. Cake, that was something.”

  • “We went by train all the way to Trani near Bari, far down south. There was a camp there for Jews going to Palestine, to Israel - Israel was a young country, not even a year old. I was there a week, then we boarded a terrible ship, the Caserta, that was a cattle ship. They built two-tier bunks, the voyage was four or five days long. Terrible, hardly any water and bad food. Terrible, yet another transport, bunks, terrible, but somehow - we were all young, we knew each other very well from Terezín, so we took it sportingly. I cried all the way to Velenice, the girl sitting opposite me had undergone scarlet fever with me in Terezín. When we reached Velenice, she said: ‘Tell me, Růženka, have you cried it all out?’”

  • “The baby was born on 7 March, a boy. But the girls that worked at Flachs [flax processing - ed.] made this kind of... out of a fence, so that the baby could lie there, and they put Evka where they had showers, her and the baby. When we went to the toilet, we’d pass by, so we’d always have a look - the baby was alive - and patted its little bottom. A live baby in such a situation. His name was Tomy, after Masaryk, of course. There were three births there. Mengele came to Merzdorf one day. We had to clean the bunks somehow, and I didn’t want to believe it that Mengele - but I’ve had it confirmed by one [woman] in Prague, who had been there with me, but was older - that Mengele had come to take the baby away. The foreman of the department where Evka worked, he told [Mengele] to leave her, that she’s such an excellent worker, and he talked him into leaving the baby with its mummy. And he did. They both came back, both the girls, Evka was already married, and chance had it that her husband also came back. He hadn’t known she was pregnant, and she brought him home a baby. That was something extraordinary.”

  • “It was terrible when we had to undress. I was still holding my shoes, because I could not imagine I would just leave them there. A female overseer came to me and snatched them from my hand: ´Give me the shoes, you bitch, you’ll peg out anyway!´ I started crying. In a short while we were all naked and they shaved our heads. Those who shaved us were prisoners who had already been there for a longer time. There was a man who shaved us. There was a chair and shaved hairs all over the floor. They used one piece of cloth with lysol to disinfect all of us. That was terrible. They herded us all into one room.”

  • “Since the time I returned from Auschwitz, I do not want to hear about any religion anymore. My children were also brought up without Judaism. Those who have been in Auschwitz and seen what I have seen cannot believe in God. Little children, who were thrown into fire or gassed? I don’t want to talk about it. Should I still go to church (synagogue)? I don’t believe in anything. We had not been brought up that way, either, we were an assimilated family.”

  • “My brother would have celebrated his birthday on December 12th, but he was no longer alive. I was crying as I was working. The manager came there, he had a swastika on his grey coat; he stopped the machine and asked me why I was crying. (...) I didn’t want to speak to him, I didn’t want to tell him that Germans have sent my brother to the gas chamber. He told me: ´I would change with you today, because my second son was killed in combat´ I replied: ´Sir, did you really want it to happen this way?´ I got the courage to ask him where exactly we were. ´Do you know where Spindlermühle is?´ Of course I knew. We were near Spindlermühle (Špindlerův mlýn), but on the German side, near the Czech border.”

  • “During the selection in Auschwitz Mengele sent me to the right side. He asked me how old I was (wie alt) and I said eighteen (achtzehn) and (mom) added: ´She is my child, she is not eighteen yet.´ He kicked her. I was so ashamed. My mom was always so brave. We did not know what was happening. She was an amazing woman.”

  • “We were ready to go down. We heard somebody unlocking the door. The doctor stood there and said to us: ´Ich bitte die Damen heruntergehen.´ I would like to ask the ladies to come down. All of a sudden we were ladies. This was not a roll call, when we had to stand in a line. We formed a half-circle. He announced to us: ´The war is over. As a doctor, I want to give you a word of caution. You are malnourished, and you should therefore avoid eating excessively now. We are in the Giant Mountains, and the Russian are coming to liberate you, they are already on the way. Hitler has capitulated.´ All of a sudden we were ladies.”

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Tel Aviv, Izrael, 05.11.2012

    duration: 03:08:43
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
  • 2

    Izrael, 13.11.2015

    duration: 02:12:34
  • 3

    Izrael, 18.11.2015

    duration: 01:39:13
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Hitler capitulated and we were suddenly ladies

In 1946
In 1946
photo: archiv pamětnice

She was born Růžena Vogelová in a German speaking assimilated family in Deštnice near Žatec. In 1938 she and her parents escaped to the country’s interior to Řevničov in the Rakovník region. In February 1942 she was deported with her family to the ghetto in Terezín. In autumn 1944 she was transported to the Auschwitz concentration camp and after about two weeks she was sent to work in a textile factory in Metzdorf on the German side of the Giant Mountains. She lived in Žatec after the war and in 1948-1949 she moved to Israel. In the 1990s she and her husband (who was also of Czech origin) used to visit Prague frequently and they purchased an apartment there. She lives in Tel Aviv.