Petr Ehrmann

* 1926  †︎ 2012

  • "As far as I know, no one died there. But there were also older people who joined in Vienna. There were quite a few artists there and cabarets took place, even in those lousy conditions. There were some cabaret artists - Mr. Kapr from Vienna and some singer from the Berlin opera, Mrs. Pillersdorf... So parties were held in the space between such booths. After those four months, sometime in January, the organizers finally managed to find a coal - this time a sea-ship - named Sakaria. So we boarded that ship and sailed to Palestine."

  • Redactor: "Where was your training? Where did they accept you to the army?“ – "They called us up in Jerusalem, there was a medical station for Czechoslovak soldiers and also a military mission. About twenty or thirty of us gathered there. All boys like me, also there were a few people who served in the British army and changed for the Czechoslovaks. I was there along with my cousin with whom I was actually raised, Pavel Bergman. We underwent a sort of common training so that we would have been able to come to attention and to hail. Then they drove us to Port Said in Egypt. We boarded a ship and sailed in a large convoy to England. There were many soldiers on board, Poles mostly, some Englishmen and us, a couple of Czechs. We sailed as a first convoy across the Mediterranean. There we were troubled by submarines, I don’t know if in the Mediterranean already or later in the ocean. We saw the torpedo destroyers set off anti-submarine mines."

  • "To tell you the truth, although my parents knew what it was about, I was uninformed. I was quite leftist oriented already since my stay in Palestine, in the kibbutz. So I didn’t mind so much (the communists seizing power, rem.). My wife originated from an anti-communist family, though, and she herself was in a National-socialist youth movement. I was curious about how the situation in our country will evolve. But when I saw the militia marching, I was sure they wouldn’t have hesitated to make use of their weapons if they were given orders. It was bad; when I think back I tell myself: you were a sod that you couldn't make it out then already. At least we waited to see that November 17th."

  • "We were leaving from here legally, but the journey itself was illegal. Some visas were sought for, we gained visas to Haiti. We were leaving from Prague.“ – Redactor: „Through Budapest, Vienna?“ – „We went to Bratislava, where there was Tiso already. There we were locked up for two days in a dormitory, guarded by „Hlinka’s guard“ (Slovak fascist militia, rem.). It was in October 1939. I remember that, I was just thirteen years old, we were sailing on Danube when I had my birthday on October 26th. That is the time of Jewish Bar Mitsvah, when Jewish boys become men. We celebrated that in silence. It is neccesary to study some Jewish talks for that and I didn’t study those. (...) We were on a Slovak ship and some Mr. Dvořák, a Czech man, was the captain. Those were such pleasure boats. In Romania, in front of an iron gate, we changed for some steel ship which transported coal. There were about three hundred of us. Some smart boys from Carpathian Ruthenia came in advance and prepared it. They build such wooden booths, they also had to clean it up, the ship, called Spiroa, was full of coal dust. They brought us to Sulina and there we waited for a sea ship. I assume that the organizers of our trip were out of money. The journey took over three months. We froze up in there, naturally there were terrible hygienic conditions. On the board there were toilets made of wood. People had dysentery, you can probably imagine how it looked there. The food was scarce too.“

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    Podolí u Mnichova Hradiště, 19.11.2009

    duration: 02:03:20
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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I was baptized in the Moldau river, thus I was actually unbaptized...

ehrmann_petr_1944_7756v.jpg (historic)
Petr Ehrmann

Petr Ehrmann was born on October 26th, 1926 in Prague to Jewish parents who originated from Strakonice. He left for Palestine in October 1939, along with his parents, younger sister, uncles and cousins. He experienced a long distressful journey, which lasted over three months, on the ship “Spiroula” along the Danube River. After the long journey, he began working for a coal ship, which later brought him to Haifa, Israel. Once he arrived in Palestine he began working as a locksmith. By the end of 1943, when Ehrmann was seventeen years old, he joined the Czechoslovak army in Jerusalem. He fought in Dunkerque, France as a tank-driver of the first troop, third tank battalion. After the war, he moved to Prague to finish high school, but had to move out from Prague in 1948 to find work (“worker professions”). In 1981, he received an exit permit to France and Germany. There, he visited his cousin in Germany, and visited Israel, without the authorities knowing. He died in March, 2012.