“And you would lose it all. How old was I when we had to leave Vienna? We left everything at home. We had nothing, just this single briefcase for each of us. We missed our train at the border crossing in Znojmo as we had to get undressed so they could see we weren't trying to smuggle anything.”
“That was in Theresienstadt. There was this wedding ceremony conducted by a rabbi. As my husband was quite handsome, and I was quite a looker as well, he wanted us to get married. But his father didn't want me, he didn't indeed.”
“But we had to take it as it was. When I was in Auschwitz and they needed me to work, they would let us stand somewhere on top, somewhere on higher ground. And as we were looking down, we saw this fire, as they were burning people. How do you think I would feel watching something like that? Knowing that both my mother and my sister were among them... They would hold me, I would rather jump, but the girls kept holding me. One from either side as I just kept screaming. And later, as we kept going on and on [on a death march], I kept telling myself that my mother wouldn't be able to carry on. I guess she would, but I had to convince myself that she wouldn't.”
“It’s impossible to forget the moment when I arrived in Auschwitz, in Birkenau. The gaunt, famished ones were on the one side... and suddenly I couldn’t see Mum anywhere in the transport, and I started screaming my head off. When I found her, we were all there, my sister as well. Mengele... we had to [???] undress and run round and round, and he just looked at us and pointed: life - death - life - death. And my Mum, she was forty-seven, she could have gone into another transport - they actually needed us for work - but because my sister was nine, she didn’t want to go, of course. And I didn’t want to leave either. But she didn’t allow it, she accompanied me all the way to the exit and gave me a message for my father - she sensed I would survive. But she was gassed. And my sister too. And they took us to this hill, and we saw [???] it burning down below...”
“Back then we slept on planks in the theatre - the old Essens were still with us at the time, they didn’t hurt us so much - and when we woke up in the morning, we were alone, the two of us - but we were so apathetic by then that we went and found the rest of the march. I seems crazy now, but that’s how it was. So we went with them. And at one point, during the death march, when the young ones [SS members - ed.] were with us, my friend jumped over a ditch that was there, she was on the other side, I turned round, she said ‘There!’, and at that very moment the SS man turned round and I couldn’t follow her. So she came back. So we walked on. And one time I saw something in the ditch - I thought it was an apple. An apple perhaps, so I jumped into it, but it wasn’t an apple. An SS man was already waiting for me when I climbed back out again, and I got one nice and proper. To begin with we walked right at the front, and then moved all the way to the back. One time we slept over at a farm... and the lady, when she saw the sorry state we were in - because we couldn’t all sleep there - she brought us each six warm potatoes. So we each ate three warm and kept the rest for the next day. We were all so hard up that we even ate the potato skins. Of course, then we all contracted hepatitis and typhus.”
“During one journey one girl stole some shoe parts from a farmer, because the shoes we had weren’t shoes any more. The bloke reported it, and they stood us in a row and wanted to kill every seventh person. I don’t remember if it was my friend or myself who was seventh - it didn’t matter, because she would have gone with me and I with her. But then the Red Cross came and stopped it - so they didn’t kill us.”
Albertina Lang was born on 5 June 1921 in Vienna as the second child of a Jewish businessman. Although the family was forced to come to terms with the sudden loss of her older brother Leopold, the Viennese period was a happy one for the family. This was cut short by the Anschluss of Austria and the fear of antisemitism. For this reason the whole family fled to Prague and planned to emigrate to England. However, only her father managed to leave on time, her mother, Albertina, and her sister were all taken to Terezín. Albertina Lang married Ludvik Frankenbusch in the Terezín ghetto - her new husband hoped to be better able to protect her that way. But while he remained in the ghetto for some time, Albertina was assigned to a transport to Auschwitz with her mother and sister. Her sister was too small to work, and her mother refused to abandon her during the selection process, and so they were both taken to the gas chambers and killed. With the help of friends, Albertina managed to survive her work in Auschwitz and the death march that came later on. After being liberated she was able to get in touch with her father and go to England. She returned to Czechoslovakia after discovering that her husband was still alive. The Frankenbusches changed their name to Farský because they still felt the threat of violent antisemitism in the post-war atmosphere. Their pre-war property was never returned to them - on the contrary, the national committee took what little the Nazis had missed. The couple had two sons in quick succession; they focused on their private life and kept away from the rush of society.