Miloš Dobrý

* 1923  †︎ 2012

  • We used to play basketball with Jarda Kraus.

  • “My wife and her parents got the transport note in September 1943. It was a misfortune to me because I was a young guy in love. So I was there with them at night. So I was lying there waiting what would happen next. There was always somebody who came and said: 'I need fifty more people! Twenty more! Ten more people!' And then those people waiting there, there were a few people who were there extra. There used to be so called 'ghettowache' ('ghetto guard'). It was Jewish police who wore black uniforms with yellow shoulder boards. They were guarding the place like police. They had no authorities. They simply guarded so that there was no fighting and so on and so forth. And they also supervised that people sent to transport were regularly taken to the station in Bohušovice. And one of those from 'ghettobach' ('ghetto guard') was from Olomouc. His name was Bris and Zuzana knew him. And he said: 'Hide somewhere round the corner.' The family and I with them. 'And I'll try to keep you here as long as the train is full.' And it really happened. He was taking us from place to place, they were transporting the people in the meantime. In the end he came saying that the train was full. The family of my wife Beckmannová – her father, mother and Zuzana could return to their quarters. It was a great mercy. The transport that came to Auschwitz on September 6th, they all went to the gas.”

  • “There was a family house about some fifty metres at the road. It was hit by a bomb. Its roof and walls were broken into pieces, only its cellar was left. Then it all quieted down. The SS men were hidden in their bunkers so my brother and I went and we told ourselves: 'There could be something here.' And we went down the stairs in the cellar and we found some small onions there. We ate them of course. How many could they have been? About three four kilos. Well, we were in the cellar when a woman came to us and she started: 'Wo sind meine Tulpen?' ('Where are my tulips?') We pretended that we were daft and that we didn't know. She didn't mind that her house was demolished but she was looking for her tulips. We had to laugh with my brother. Because her house was gone and she was looking for her tulips.”

  • “I remember that my classmates said: 'Hey, come along. We're going skying to Strančice.' So I unsewed the star then and I went with them. On our way back we came to Smíchov train station and there were those SS men checking our identification cards at the exit. There was a red capital 'J' in my identity card. So I said to myself: 'I can't go there, can I.' So I arranged with a guy, with my classmate, who went through as the first one. He crawled under the carriages, I was in the last one. He came and gave me his identification card. And I went through with his card. But I was shaking in my shoes because I knew if he caught me it would be my end. So I did not repeat that ever again.”

  • “I remember when we arrived at Auschwitz, it was at night. The gate opened and we were lit by spotlights. Then you heard dogs barking. There were SS men with sub-machine guns and dogs. Then there were some people running all around, they were wearing some funny striped tops and hats and they shouted in Polish: 'Jazda! Jazda!' And the SS men shouted: 'Alles heraus!' ('Everybody out!') So we had to jump off the wagons. I was a boy, I was twenty years old. Well, I jumped off and stood on spot. But many people jumped off but couldn't stand up because they got injured or had some broken bones. Then they pricked them with their bayonets. They sent dogs at them and those who couldn't stand up were shot dead. And then all those who could stand up, we were chased somewhere in such columns of five at night. And I felt as if in some horror film because I had no idea that I was in Auschwitz, that I was in a concentration camp. Only those dogs, the SS men, all the shouting and those weird people in their striped clothes. And we were chased at night. We went in front of the gate with the inscription 'Arbeit macht frei' ('Work makes free'), which has recently been stolen.”

  • “Once we were in the factory and they gave me an air hammer. And there was a pool with a water tank, which was ready for extinguishing some possible fire. And the wall of the concrete tank was enormous. Its size was about twenty-five times twenty-five metres. It was broken by a bomb and I was given the hammer in order to clean its parts somehow so that they could concrete it again. So I was somehow working with the hammer. I did it gently and all of a sudden I felt some resistance and I couldn't go on. So I tried again. When it wouldn't go I removed it with my hand and I saw some kind of a greenish-black piece of metal. So I kept removing it and all of a sudden I saw a yellow strip saying Made in USA. It would never cross my mind. So I said to the SS man who was supervising me: 'Herr Post! Kommen Sie hier! (Mr Post! Come here!) There is something here.' Then he came to me and he spotted it then. He threw his gun away and ran and shouted at me: 'Run away too!' Well, when I saw him running I ran too. And he was shouting at me that it was a 'Blindgänger' - an unexploded bomb. And I poked it with the hammer. Well, if I had poked its fuse then...”

  • “The SS men prohibited all correspondence. I came there as a boy. I left my parents behind. Well, I didn't feel like writing them right away but there were people who were married and their wives were left behind. So they, with the help of some officers, they gave them some things and they said: 'Send this letter for me.' They sent them of course. And there was a head officer, his name was Janeček. And he was that kind of a Czech betrayer. He got hold of some letters from his subalterns and because there was the sender there it was no problem to identify them. And at that time when we came, we came on November 24th, it was January. Just imagine: they identified those who sent the letters. And they were hanged in front of our eyes! We had to assist there between the quarters and the ramparts. There was some space, they built some gallows there. There was an executioner, his name was Fischer, he was a butcher. They drank him with vodka and he was hanging them. It was in January, those were twelve people and seven people in February. There was a guy in front of me, he was twenty-one years old. His name was Jindra Jetel and he had been married for half a year. His wife lived in Prague. He sent a letter to her. He was caught and hanged. Just because he sent a stupid letter! Then he was lying on the ground in front of me. So we just lit a candle there because we couldn't do anything else. So it was such a shock to me as a boy that I said to myself that it all started going wrong.”

  • “And then Juzek took me. He bent me over a table. I had only my trousers and the striped top on. He took those leather thongs tied in a shaft. So he took those thongs into his hand and he started beating me with the leather shaft on my back. Well, there is no need to tell you how painful it was. But I gritted my teeth and didn't give out a sound. I was beaten twenty-five times. Then he took me. I was still alive but I was not all right. He lead me at a cauldron. It was full of water. He opened that and told me in Polish: 'Rob nurke, te chuju!‘ (the warden probably said in Polish: 'Zrób nurkę, ty chuju!' - which means 'Immerse, you bastard!') I understood him but I pretended I didn't. I knew he wanted to squeeze me in the cauldron. I was a good swimmer. I could dive so I knew I had to give myself some time to practice breathing. So I pretended I didn't understand and I practiced breathing in the meantime. And the Poles took me and squeezed me in the cauldron. They covered it with a lid and Jendrek sat on the lid. The youngest one. I knew I could last for a minute. So I was counting and when I counted forty-five, they opened the cauldron. And I jumped out of the cauldron like a little devil. And boys told me that Jendrek sat there and the three others pushed him off because they thought I was dead.”

  • “And then a bomb was dropped and its splinters went up in the air. And when the splinters were going it was breaking legs off. I was sitting at the stove and my brother sat also in the direction where the splinters went. Franta Hirsch lost his leg. My brother was not injured at all and it only touched my ankle. I didn't even notice that. And then the leader Honza Eisler, it also broke his leg off. And then there was a terrible confusion all around. People were screaming and I remember I carried a boy who lost both his legs. I was carrying him into a shelter where we normally were not allowed. The doctor who pulled my nails out in Auschwitz, Bardach from Ostrava, he was the only doctor in our camp. And there was a hospital attendant to help him. We called him Sany. His real name was Rédr. He was an older guy, he was about forty years old. We were bringing the people without their legs to the sick-bay. It was a little house where the sick were. He had only a wood saw so he amputated with it because he had nothing else to do it with.”

  • “When the transports came, there was a little house with a kitchen on the ground floor and a room and there were two bedrooms and sometimes a bathroom on the first floor, toilets were usually in the courtyard. And then they put up about one hundred and fifty or two hundred people in that little house where a five- or six-member family normally lived. So they slept on the floor in the rooms. There was a nail behind them on the wall, they hung their few items of clothes that they brought with them and they slept on the floor. So there were about thirty-five or forty people in such an ordinary room. You can imagine that, can't you. But what you cannot imagine is that they had water supplies and sewerage for six and a half thousand people when there lived about six and a half thousand Czech people in Terezín. And then – when there were about seventy thousand people and we turned the tap on and there was no water. You can imagine that too. But what was worse to imagine were toilets without water. So people were queuing in lines, of course they couldn't hold it in. Then there was no water there. It resulted in epidemics. Typhus, dysenteriae, lice, fleas, bedbugs.”

  • “There was a football pitch there and it was covered with dandelions, it was completely yellow. And someone said: 'You can eat it, the French make some salad of it.' So we asked the SS men to let us go to get some sun. We were allowed to go. So we, two hundred and fifty of us, we got out to the pitch and we were pigging ourselves with the flowers. We ate blooms, leaves, roots, everything. And when there were no dandelions left, there were some nettles at the fence. We tried to eat those but it was just impossible. First, they were stinging and secondly, they were hard. So we got a pot with water somewhere and we boiled the nettles in such a large pot and we ate the nettles from the water. It didn't sting any more.”

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Olomouc, 07.01.2010

    duration: 03:22:57
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
  • 2

    Olomouc, 07.01.2010

    duration: 03:49:48
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

Our only thought was about getting food from anywhere

Miloš  Gut
Miloš Gut
photo: archiv pamětníkova vnuka

Engineer Miloš Dobrý was born January 31st, 1923 to a Jewish family in Prague. Because of his Jewish origin, Dobrý was expelled from school and restricted form participating in any type of social or recreational activity. In November 1941 he was designated for the first transport to Terezin. This transport, called the AK I - construction, had the task of preparing the barracks for the arrival of more Jews to the ghetto. Although the prisoners of Terezin experienced horrific conditions, Dobrý was fortunate enough to be placed in the butcher shop, where he had better access to food than the others. In 1942 his parents and brother Joseph arrived at the camp. He met his future wife there, Zuzana Beckmann. After a few months in the butcher shop, Dobry was given a chef position in the camp’s kitchen, a job that would not last long. He, his family, and Zuzana Beckmann were eventually transferred to Auschwitz with the rest of his family. Dobry remembers a particular day, July 1, 1944 when he and a group of other prisoners were lined up for inspection. He thought that they were going to the gas chambers. Instead, Milos was transported to Schwarzheide, a camp that was frequently hit by allied air raids. Miloš and his brother managed to survive, miraculously. By April 1944, the camp was so damaged by bombs that both the SS and the prisoners were forced to leave. For days the prisoners marched without food or water, many to their death. Freedom finally came when one day, the SS gaurds suddenly disappeared and the prisoners were left alone. A local policeman told them that it was the end of the war. The group marched for one last time, back to Terezin, where they were given aide by the Red Cross. After regaining their strength, Miloš Dobrý and his brother went home to Prague. There, they found that almost all of their relatives, including his parents, had died in concentration camps. Zuzana Beckmann survived and in 1949 she and Milos were married. They lived together in Prague, where Dobrý graduated from college with a focus in inorganic chemistry, and began playing rugby for LTC. Because he knew four languages, he became secretary of the club. In 1990 he became president of the rugby union. He died November 23, 2012 in Olomouc.