Alice Grusová

* 1941  †︎ 2023

  • “There was a bust there. They stopped the train and everyone had to get out. The Germans saw several Jews running away so they caught them all. Everyone was transported via Prague, my aunt told me that they were murdered in Petschek Palace and from there they were sent to the Small Fortress of Terezín. I remained on the bench. It was my mother’s idea and in fact she saved my life. Later, I lived in Karlov in a foundling house, spending six months there.”

  • “As a child and even when I got older I reproached my own mom in a way for having me so late, at the time of the transports. I simply found it irresponsible. But on the other hand, upon finding out about my mom saving my life, I tend to understand that she wanted a child so much and how hard it must have been to let go of it. I see her as a hero of sorts for saving my life. I cannot imagine how she must have felt while leaving the baby covered in a blanket on a bench. She ended up this way and never knew that she saved my life.”

  • “I knew it. Even after the war, it turned out that people are incorrigible. Since I had curly hair, was darker, a bit of an exotic type, the kids would shout at me – knowing it from their homes, probably – ‘Jewish girl!’ I used to be terribly ashamed at that time. I have had a lot of support at school but even some of the classmates used to address me: ‘You, Jewish girl, you are a Jewish girl.’ I would reply: ‘What about it?’ I used to face anti-semitism.”

  • “When [my parents] were fleeing, they already reached Pardubice, I think that they planned to continue via Poland, but I don’t know where, I have never learnt it. The train was stopped in Pardubice, and the Germans conducted a massive raid. They had apparently been informed, my parents were probably not the only ones. The fact is that my mother managed to place me on a bench in a park and leave me there. They had to undergo interrogations in the Petschek Palace, torture, and they eventually got to the Small Fortress. And I – somebody found me, I don’t know the details, and I was taken to the foundling hospital in Karlov.”

  • “I was actually the youngest child and I only vaguely remember that I was sitting in a high chair in some large room, there was a huge table in front of me and children of various ages around it. It was real. I thought that perhaps I was dreaming, but it was reality. I had problems eating, I remember that I was crying and I didn’t want them to feed me. I remember that the nurse took me out of that high chair and carried me to an adjacent room where the children played and slept. I had this impression. I thought that I was only dreaming, but it was reality, I will explain later how I knew it. Then another flashback – it was terribly uncomfortable – I was in some vault, in an underground room where they were hiding me when I was sick with typhoid. They were giving me injections in my arm, I was about three and a half years old. I know that there was some doctor. Everything was secret, because Germans were exterminating things like that, sick children or typhoid patients. They would have certainly killed me immediately.”

  • “When the Russians arrived in 1968, the [women who came from Russia] did everything for us, for Czechoslovakia. They were discussing with the soldiers, but it was of no use. They even pointed a gun at me when I was impolite to the Russian soldiers. I began arguing with them, too. They were stopping cars and searching them. I was so angry that I was telling them: ´Oruzhija zdes! The weapons are here!´ I was pointing under the car seats. They were angry at me, but I was saying to them: ´So you parents liberated Terezín, and my parents died during the war. You have liberated me and now you are pointing your guns at me?!´ I could speak Russian pretty well at that time. That’s how it was.”

  • “They lived in fear. Men would come to our place – this I remember because my foster parents, I do not need to underline it anymore, attended President Beneš’s funeral. I remember those men in black leather coats coming to our place. I say this because the couple took care of me and later, in 1951, adopted me. They somewhat got out of it, my mother was not working and they were able to cover up the BBC issue.”

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Praha, v bydlišti pamětníka, 12.03.2014

    duration: 02:00:50
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
  • 2

    Praha, Hroznová ul., 06.03.2015

    duration: 01:23:07
  • 3

    Praha, 12.10.2018

    duration: 42:10
    media recorded in project The Stories of Our Neigbours
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

“I live, thanks to the courage of my mom”

álaaklím – kopie.jpg (historic)
Alice Grusová
photo: Dobová archiv pamětnice, současná Eye Direct

Mrs. Alice Grusová, née Knappová, was born on the 25th of May, 1941 in Prague to Marta and Alexandr Knapp. Both her parents were Jews who were originally from southern Slovakia, decided to flee the Protectorate with their one-year-old daughter in June 1942. During their train journey, while they were at the railway station in Pardubice, a raid accompanied by a document check took place and in the ensuing chaos. Alice’s mother placed the baby on a bench near the station. Both parents were arrested, interned in the ‘Small Fortress’ in Terezín, and later deported to Auschwitz where they perished in September 1942 and January 1943, respectively. Little Alice was taken to an orphanage where she spent about half a year. On December 22, 1942, she and others from the orphanage were deported to Terezín. She survived to witness the liberation there in May 1945. Her mother’s sister, Edita Schwitzerová, began taking care of her and she took little Alice with her to Lučenec and later to Levice. After Edita’s planned emigration to Palestine in 1947, the girl was adopted by Mr. and Mrs. Klíma. Alice studied at nursing school, married in 1962 and with her husband, raised three sons. Mrs. Alice Grusová worked as a hospital head nurse. She lives in Prague with her husband. Alice Grusová passed away on September, the 28th, 2023.