Olga Čvančarová

* 1927  

  • “It was Christmas time, one evening, a Jewish girl ran up to our house. It was the first holiday after Christmas. She came up, shook hands with everyone. At last they asked her to sit down and tell them what she wanted. She said she was a Jew and that the man from the forest had told her to go to the mill, that the people there would help her. She had escaped from the car in which they took Jews to be shot. There were holes dug into the ground, they had to undress and lie down into them naked, the weather was cold, freezing... They weren’t paying attention somehow, and the girl had jumped out of the car and ran and ran. And as they saw her, they started firing at her. But she was far away and they missed. She thought she was wounded, so she had to stay put right into the night. She didn’t know where she was, what she was. And in the evening she came to one house. We didn’t find out anything from her because she didn’t know anything either. She found her way to the Ukrainians in the forest, and she was there about a fortnight. Yeah, but when the Germans were in power, everyone had to have a sign on the door which said how many member the family had, because it happened sometimes that they killed someone who didn’t belong into the house. That’s why they had signs on the doors. My brother-in-law said: ‘Yeah, but how can we trust her? She could be a baiter.’ You couldn’t trust anyone in those times. We already believed her to be who she claimed she was. But what could we do with her, where could we put her?”

  • “The war started up again on Sunday, and they shot down a German plane near our place. They made an air raid right away in the morning. I was grazing cattle and I wondered to myself: What’s going on? It’s like thunder. It didn’t occur to me that it could be an air raid. The Russians must have shot at them. About a kilometre away from us, near the manor house, a German plane crashed down. We all ran to have a look there. By coincidence, [the pilots] weren’t German, but French. Blue uniforms. One Polish boy from Černý Les had studied French in Lucek, so he could understand them. They told him that the Germans would be there the next day. That the people should go away because they’d set the plane on fire. There were three of them, one was heavily wounded, he was lying on the ground. Of course we had to wait until the Russians would come for them. It was the first time I saw such a beautifully equipped aircraft. And those soldiers’ uniforms. So we left and they set it on fire. It exploded and burned down. Then they said the Russians came for them. But what they did with them... I heard they took them to Torčín, which had a Jewish town and state officials.”

  • “We took her into the barn. There was a bunk bed there for when the cows were calving or the horses foaling, so that someone could sleep there. So we kept her there and I always took her food and we talked together. She said she was a student from Lucek and that her father had been a lawyer. The Germans came into the ghetto every week and: ‘You, you’ll go on the car.’ They didn’t know where to. Some of them maybe went to a camp, but most of them went into a hole in the ground in the cold. They always bribed themselves out. She said that they had made a collection of rings and gold and bought themselves out for a week. They were safe for a week. The next week the Germans came again, and the same again. She said that they didn’t have anything to bribe with anymore. She told it all, how it was.”

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    Ostrava, 30.05.2018

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    Ostrava, 07.05.2013

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There will be Siberia no more

Olga Čvančarová v roce 1948.JPG (historic)
Olga Čvančarová

Olga Čvančarová, née Havričenková, was born in Černý Les (“Black Forest”) in the Polish part of Volhynia in 1927. Her father was Ukrainian and her mother Czech. Like other parts of Volhynia during World War II, Černý Les was occupied first by the Soviet Union and then by Germany. During the Soviet reign the family was considered to belong to the village rich, and they were threatened with a transport to Siberia. And during the German dominion they gave shelter to a young Jewish girl from Lucek, who had escaped the Germans a moment before execution. If this fact had leaked out, the family could have been killed. After the liberation, Olga Čvančarová worked as an accountant in the family mill which the communist nationalised from them. She lived in a constant fear that her bookkeeping would contain a mistake and she would end up in Siberia. Upon re-emigration, she actually took the accounting ledgers with her into the train - she threw them out of the window only when the train lost view of the station. In Czechoslovakia, she settled down with her mother in Třebom, Hlučín district, where they were given a farm through a presidential decree. She now lives in the nearby village of Sudice.