“We all had to work ever since we were 15 years old. I was always in the agriculture – the Landwirtschaft. That’s where I was sent to. First, there were no sheep but I was always working outside. I was lucky that I did not have to sew uniforms for Germans – this work was done there as well in one wooden house. Then there was work in the laundry and the kitchen. I got really lucky to be always outside. Then they brought in the sheep, saying they were from Lidice. But they could not have been from Lidice because I have a friend there, I go there quite often and there were not that many sheep there. Probably they were from Slovakia.”
“He was yelling at me terribly: ’Who gave it to her?’ And I said I didn’t know. He kept yelling for half an hour but I kept repeating that I did’t know. In the end he screamed: ’If you don’t tell me, we will hang you and send you to Poland.’ I was seventeen and the idea of being hanged and then being sent to Poland sounded rather funny, so I started to laugh. He kicked me out because he was not allowed to hit me. I was innocent, under the protection of the policemen. The other girl was not sent anywhere either, and that was the end of the story.”
“I was grazing the sheep; by then it was clear the end of the war was nearing. Every three months the policemen would change. At the time, there were some completely new ones. One of them asked them what I was going to do after the war. I said I had no idea; that I had nobody to go to. You can’t imagine how sad that was. On one hand, happiness that the horrible war was coming to an end and on the other hand, having no idea what to do next. One of the policemen asked me whether I’d go to his family, saying he had a daughter my age who passed away four years ago due to meningitis, and I said yes. A jeep with prisoners from the Small Fort had arrived. They took me with them to Kostelec nad Orlicí where I found a new home.”
“I always hated the Nazis. It stayed the same also in Brno, when they were marching around with their flags, yelling their antisemitic songs and so on. Obviously, I used to hate and still hate to this day the perpetrators, the SS-men etc. But for example I know Heydrich’s son. His father was assassinated and he was really the hangman of the Czech people and the Jews, a totally condemnable criminal. But I say children are not responsible for their parents.”
“My father was about to be transported and I really wanted to go with him. I made my way through the police cordon. Everyone had let me through, I don’t know why. I went to the Hamburg barracks from where the transports were leaving. Four tall SS-men were standing there. I went to them and one asked me: ‘What do you want?’ I said: ’My daddy is on the transport and I want to go with him.’ –‘No.’ My brother was still there [in Terezín] but I lied about him and said: ’I would be here in Terezín alone.’ – ‘Isn’t it nice to be in Terezín on your own?’ And the SS-men saved my life because they did not allow me to go with my father. That’s the way it was, I really wanted to go.”
Doris Grozdanovičová, née Schimmerlingová, was born on the 7th of April, 1926 in Jihlava. She grew up in a non-practicing Jewish family along with her older brother Hanuš. Her father worked as a clerk in a bank and her mother was a housewife. In the early 1930s, the family moved to Brno where Doris attended elementary school, and later a grammar school where from she was expelled because of her Jewish origin. She spent the next year studying at Brno’s Jewish grammar school up until its closure in 1941. On the 28th of January, 1942, she left with her parents and brother to the Terezín ghetto. She worked in agriculture and later as a shepherd. Her mum died in Terezín while her brother and father were deported to Auschwitz in October 1944. Doris stayed behind in Terezín up until its liberation. She then got an offer from Josef Urban, a police officer, to move in with his family. She moved to his place in Kostelec nad Orlicí. In the summer of 1945, her brother who survived the camps found her there. Her father was murdered. Doris returned with her brother to Brno, finished high school studies and from 1946 until 1950 studied English and philosophy at the Masaryk University. After her studies, she spent a year working at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs after which she worked as an editor in the Československý Spisovatel Publishing House where she worked until her retirement in 1985. Doris Grozdanovičová raised one son and got divorced. She frequently travels to debates with students at schools both in Czechia and abroad; she also gives lectures regularly in Terezín. She is an active member of the Terezín initiative and is an editor of a magazine, which they publish. She died on August 21, 2019.