Marta Charvátová

* 1926

  • “We [my mother and I - ed.] travelled to Nové Město nad Váhom by train as well. We came to where we had lived. Dad was in Terezín. He was in the Terezín hospital because he was ill. And because he was an expert, he could make wine out of anything, so he made the doctors wine, and they held him in great esteem and didn’t send him away with any of the transports. So they kept him there because he made them wine out of jams and all kinds of stuff. [When Mum and I arrived,] Dad was home. Then we just waited for my brother. We waited and waited - and are still waiting. He didn’t come.” [Her brother Osvald Dušinský died in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp - ed.]

  • “We had a shelter in the forest. It was sometime in November [1944 - ed.], it was perhaps a less beautiful day that right now. My aunt - mum’s sister - and I went out to get a breath of fresh air. We met some boy, he was wearing just a military jacket, and he said he was a partisan. I don’t think so. But I guess he reported us. About the next day or the day after the German army arrived on horseback and combed through the forests. They found us, of course, because they had an exact description. So they took us all - Mum, Dad, my brother, aunt, uncle, and myself - and tied us each to one horse. And they rounded us up at the pub in the village of Beckov.”

  • “I came down with severe tonsillitis, like I had suffered from as a child, and it stuck with me almost until my adulthood. [After our arrival in Ravensbrück in December 1944 - ed.] they didn’t shave our heads bare, because of Christmas I guess. [We had to take off all our top clothes] and leave our things lying on the ground. [Then we took turns in the shower.] The women who were waiting outside for [the SS] to herd them into the shower rooms threw us clothes as we came out. But not our own. Any clothes. And I caught a sweater with two pockets. There were several sulfonamide pills inside. There were coincidences like that. You probably won’t know it, but I knew what sulfonamide was, and although it wasn’t specifically designed for tonsillitis, it did help. The old doctors know it, no doubt, it was before antibiotics. So I took the sulfonamides, and my fever started to drop.”

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    Plzeň, 27.09.2016

    duration: 02:32:01
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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I said to myself that I wouldn’t bring a second child into this world, not after all I had been through

Marta Charvátová after WWII
Marta Charvátová after WWII
photo: archiv pamětnice

Marta Charvátová, née Dušinská, was born on 2 April 1926 in Trnava, Czechoslovakia (now Slovakia). She grew up in Bohunice, where he father managed a distillery. After the declaration of the Slovak State, she was discriminated against because of her Jewish origin. She was expelled from her school in Trnava and banned from studying. The family tried unsuccessfully to emigrate to South America or escape to Hungary. Then the Dušinskýs moved to Nové Město nad Váhom. In autumn 1944 the whole family hid in a forest bunker near the village of Kálnice, where they hid for two months to avoid persecution. However, they were found by the Germans in November 1944; they were captured and imprisoned in the concentration camp in Sereď. In December Marta and her mother boarded a transport to the Ravensbrück concentration camp. They were also held in the Bavarian concentration camps of Burgau and Türkheim. Marta lost thirteen of her close relatives during the war, including her brother Osvald, who died during a death march from Sachsenhausen. In 1949 she married the full-time soldier Jaroslav Charvát, who had been in the anti-Fascist resistance during the war and had been interned in German prisons. Marta Charvátová followed her husband when he was transferred, moving first to Kolín, then to Pilsen, where the witness lives as of 2017. In 1951 she gave birth to their son, and she devoted ten years to caring for their child and keeping their house. After that she worked as a shop assistant and manager at a health and beauty store until her retirement.