Marketa Goetz-Stankiewicz

* 1927  

  • My father came from a Jewish family so we were the so-called Mischlings. I was a Mischling of the first grade but I didn´t care. I used to say: I have the best parents, the best father anyone could wish for. But my father suffered a lot because of this. They were collecting Czech mixed families, not only mixed but Jewish men. They took them or they had to walk to the station, there they took their names and some Gestapo man asked: Is there anyone – of course in German: Ist jemand ein Jude hier - whose child is in a German school? I didn´t say before that when they didn´t accept me to the Czech gymnasium, I had to study at the German gymnasium in Ostrava. I commuted. I had to leave home at 6 in the morning, walked to the station, travelled by train for an hour and then in Ostrava went on foot three quarters of an hour to school. I always had a strange feeling but it was a good school. We also had a little bit of English there. So, I was in a German school. My father said so, they took him out of the group and the other people have never been heard of afterwards. My father was not allowed to work, to leave the town, we had to move out of the flat upstairs in the Savings Bank building, well, it was terrible. But my father survived. He had to go to a concentration camp but survived. His parents, sister, cousin – none of them survived. My father did and was in Canada with us. This was the greatest happiness.

  • We also took photos. We had there – I can´t find the word – some 500 German soldiers – somebody will help me? – yes, a garrison. They used to come to have their photos taken to the Foto Doda. I had to speak to them as I could speak German. So, the horrible German language was of use now, in different surroundings. The soldiers came, of course I saw enemies in them, but we still took their photos. Then something strange happened. Somewhat later, in the years 1943, 44, letters arrived from little villages in Austria.Reading the letters, well, we, Doda too, we both started to cry. The parents wrote in them: Our beloved son is no longer alive. He was killed in the war – ist gefallen in German. You can say it in the same way in Czech. And I saw: Please, make four large photos and about a few dozen small ones for me, so I did. And some were framed. I saw the faces of the boys. They were boys, almost children. And this somehow burned out the hatred I had felt to the soldiers.

  • We also took photos. We had there – I can´t find the word – some 500 German soldiers – somebody will help me? – yes, a garrison. They used to come to have their photos taken to the Foto Doda. I had to speak to them as I could speak German. So, the horrible German language was of use now, in different surroundings. The soldiers came, of course I saw enemies in them, but we still took their photos. Then something strange happened. Somewhat later, in the years 1943, 44, letters arrived from little villages in Austria.Reading the letters, well, we, Doda too, we both started to cry. The parents wrote in them: Our beloved son is no longer alive. He was killed in the war – ist gefallen in German. You can say it in the same way in Czech. And I saw: Please, make four large photos and about a few dozen small ones for me, so I did. And some were framed. I saw the faces of the boys. They were boys, almost children. And this somehow burned out the hatred I had felt to the soldiers. Traveling to Hrádeček: And then Vašek invited us to pick mushrooms and said he will make mushrooms with eggs for us a week later. “Yes, yes, we´ll go.” So, we did. It was getting a bit dark, which was good, and we were heading towards Hrádeček. This time my mother was with me. Then we saw lights and the police. What next? The police stopped us. My mother said, “So, we´ve had it.” The policemen came and asked, “What are you doing here?” No, first “Warum fahren sie hier?” because we had a German car. Then, “Passport bitte.” So, we handed him our Canadian passports and started to speak in Czech. This was a bit too much for the policemen, but we kept sitting. “Why are you driving here and what are you doing in this place?” they asked. Thank God there was some big God down there: “There was a detour and it brought us to this little road here, gentlemen, you know.” My mother was charming, “Gentlemen, I´ll tell you, we´ve got no idea where we are. That´s our problem.” So, we got around them and I looked at Hrádeček. I could see a curtain, Havel knew we were there and all that. We heard the curtain rustle. Well, we got ‘round them, by simply acting stupid. It was great. They wrote down everything and then they said, “Ladies, ladies,” now they were calling us ladies, “drive straight up, left, there is a bigger road, then again left, then right, the road goes in circles and it´ll take you to the road to Špindlerův Mlýn. But don´t drive on small roads.” They were almost like fathers. And we said, “Thank you, you´ve saved our lives here.” And off we went.

  • This was also one big – not adventure – that´s a word fit for a film – it was, it went so deep for me, all that I have been through there. That was then. And the next time I saw him, he was already the President. Well. This is a wonderful thing. He was always very nice to me, he hugged me. Maybe it was me who hugged him first, because he was a hero but also a shy person. Vašek. He was a shy person. Yes.

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    Vancouver, Kanada, 29.01.2016

    (audio)
    duration: 01:22:13
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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Instead of cursing the dark, light a candle

32790-photo.jpg (historic)
Marketa Goetz-Stankiewicz
photo: archiv Míši Čaňkové

Marketa Goetz-Stankiewic was born on 15 February 1927 as Markéta Götzová in Liberec into a Czech-German-Jewish family. She attended German School in Místek where she lived between 1935 and 1948. At the end of the war she worked at a Photo Studio. During the German occupation her father was imprisoned in Theresienstadt. Her family decided to emigrate and in September 1948 they left the Czech Republic. Markéta completed her studies of literature and history in Canada; she focused primarily on comparative studies and Germanic philology. In 1973, she returned to Prague for the first time and since then she has been coming back every year. She befriended many writers of so-called banned literature. She translated their work, wrote about them, was their editor, transported the books across the border and made their authors known to the North American reader/theatre-goer. In 1988, Havel, Klíma and Vaculík secretly celebrated her with the Ordo libri bohemici, and in 2000, she was officially awarded the Medal of the 2nd degree for her achievement.In 2016 she was awarded the Jiří Theiner Prize for the promotion of Czech literature abroad.