I starved so that my mother and my siblings could live
Erika Gajová was born on 8 February 1931 in Hindenburg, what is now Zabrze, in Polish Silesia. Her mother came from the vicinity of Opole, her father was a German. He worked in management position at one of the mines in Hindenburg. In January 1945 Hindenburg was liberated by the Soviet army, in May it was handed over to the Polish army. The witness’s father was sent with hundreds of other men from the city to work in newly developed mine shafts in Ukraine. Erika Gajová and her mother and two younger siblings were evicted from their flat by Poles and sent to a concentration camp because the family had not officially claimed Polish nationality, and so they were considered Germans. Their aunt succeeded in getting them out of the camp. However, Erika’s mother was not capable of feeding three children, and so she sent Erika, who almost died of starvation at the time, to stay with relatives in Darkovičky near Opava in Czechoslovakia. When the borders were closed, she had no way of getting back again. In the end she spent her whole life there. The family had information concerning their father’s fate for many years, it was not until 2010 that found out via the Red Cross that he was buried in a mass grave in Ukraine.