Michal Efrat

* 1926  †︎ 2017

  • “Hagana – those were young boys fighting the English and the Arabs. They were seventeen years old kids. They used to tell us that we acted as sheep going to the slaughterhouse. Whenever I left the kibbutz I would wear long sleeves. Up until Eichmann’s trial which took place in the 1960s we never spoke about it. We would only meet in the evening in some small house where we would share our stories, each telling the other where they were, what happened and how. Since nobody was asking us. They weren’t interested in what took place in Europe. Up until Eichmann’s trial when witnessed showed up talking on the radio and later asking us: ‘Why didn’t you speak up?’ I replied: ‘Had you asked us?’ Do you get it? Later, they realized what we’d been through.”

  • “The number six meant six months. The previous convoy – the one that arrived in September – was liquidated on 8 March… First they brought them to the quarantine in another camp. All of them, five thousand people. They even got to play football there, staying for just a day, not knowing what was about to happen. They were told that they would go work in another camp. Had they believed it? On 8 March, cars arrived where they loaded them all. We were watching over the fence whether they were headed right or left. The gates were towards the left and you know what was towards the right… They first headed left but suddenly hit the brakes and moved quickly to the right. So we knew what this meant. Almost five thousand people were gassed over a single night. We witnessed this and knew that we had three months left.”

  • “The Terezín anthem was composed by Švenk who was known for his cabaret pieces. There were cabarets in Terezín – Ghettomädel and the like. It goes like this: ‘Where there’s a will there’s a way. We’ll survive another day, And together, hand in hand, We’ll laugh at hardship. Where there’s a will there’s a way. We’ll survive another day, And together, hand in hand, We’ll laugh at hardship. Don’t despair, still believe That the sun will shine again And we’ll live to turn our backs on Terezín.’”

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Giv'at Chajim Me'uchad, 15.01.2015

    duration: 01:10:23
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
  • 2

    Giv'at Chajim Me'uchad, 15.11.2015

    duration: 01:22:09
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
  • 3

    Giv'at Chajim Me'uchad, 20.11.2015

    duration: 01:31:51
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th Century TV
  • 4

    Tel Aviv, Izrael, 14.02.2016

    duration: 02:54:01
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

I remained silent up until the trial of Adolf Eichmann

Michal after her arrival to Israel
Michal after her arrival to Israel
photo: archiv pamětníka

Michal Efrat, née Evelina Schlachetová, was born on April 27, 1926 in Moravian Ostrava into a Jewish family. Her parents ran a chocolate company. Besides Evelina they were also bringing up her brother Arnošt (born 1922). Evelina Schlachet was a member of the Zionist group Tchelet lavan (Blue-White) and in 1938 was making arrangements for immigration to Palestine. However, this never took place. In 1939 her father was deported into a camp in Nisko, Poland. The camp was dissolved less than a year later and her father returned home. On 30 September 1942 the whole Schlachet family left for the Terezín ghetto. Evelina used to work there first in agriculture and later in a laundry. Her father died in Terezín of heart attack. On 18 December 1943 she, her mother and brother were transported to the Auschwitz family camp. She witnessed the mass murder of the family camp detainees which was carried out on 8 - 9 March 1944. In June 1944 she and her mother passed the selection and were transferred from Auschwitz to work in Hamburg. Her brother Arnošt stayed behind in the Auschwitz family camp where he died in the summer of 1944. Evelina and her mother were cleaning rubble and digging trenches in four different labor camps in Hamburg. Eight months later they were transported to the Bergen-Belsen camp where they lived to see its liberation on 15 April 1945. On 27 April 1945 her mother succumbed to a typhus epidemic. In the summer of 1945 Evelina Schlachet returned to Prague and for a short while stayed with her relatives in Prague and Kopřivnice. In the fall of 1945 she began studying at a high school of graphic design but shortly before graduation left with the last legal convoy to Palestine where she arrived in May 1949. She settled in the Givat Chajim kibbutz, changed her name to Michal and following a wedding in 1950 adopted her husband’s surname Efrat. After working for the kibbutz for several years she returned to arts, teaching courses and working in a publishing house. Ever since 1952 Michal Efrat illustrated many children books. She still lives in the Givat Chajim kibbutz.