Bohumila Havránková

* 1927  †︎ 2022

  • “Naturally, there were three-level bunk beds and there were so many people that it was crazy. I don’t know how many, but awfully lot. We spent about three days there and what shocked me most were the latrines there. It was something horrible, just planks with holes one next to each other, and at the back there was another partition made from wooden planks, and women were on one side and men on the other. When I looked down there, some worms were crawling there. It was a horrible shock for me.”

  • “There was a great epidemic of typhoid in Terezín when we arrived there. There were posters and signs with a skull that said ‘Achtung Typhus gefahr’ everywhere. Inscriptions like that. That was how it looked like. The friend of mine whom I told you about had a brother, who was Czech-Jewish as well, but they had ordered boys to be transported earlier and her brother had thus already been there for about half a year before we arrived, and he had survived the typhoid epidemic. When he learnt that we arrived he came to see us. It was not easy to get there, but he came to us and he looked terribly. He had almost no hair left, and he looked awful. We were scared when we saw him.”

  • “When the situation became so tense in 1937-1938, the children who had normally played with us in the streets, especially boys, later began wearing [Nazi clothes] to the Sokol organization, and they dressed like the Hitlerjugend. They threw horse poo at us, too. When we - Czech and German children - walked from school and we ran into each other on the sidewalk, we would push each other with backpacks that we carried on our backs.”

  • “At home we celebrated Christmas with the Baby Jesus, and every year we had a beautiful fir for Christmas tree. It was tall. We also believed in Saint Nicolas, and so on. As far as I can remember, we children went to the synagogue only one time a year, and it was on a holiday which we children called ‘candy holiday.’”

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Praha, 17.06.2015

    (audio)
    duration: 01:47:21
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
  • 2

    ZŠ Norbertov, 19.10.2017

    (audio)
    duration: 01:52:43
    media recorded in project The Stories of Our Neigbours
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Suddenly I realized that I was somebody else. I have never felt it until then

Bohumila Havránková, July 1941
Bohumila Havránková, July 1941
photo: archiv Bohumily Havránkové

Bohumila Havránková, née Picková was born November 17, 1927 in Liberec in a mixed Czech-Jewish family as the older one of two daughters. Her father was a wholesale trader and he also owned a retail store. Bohumila attended elementary school in her native town and then she continued studying at grammar school (only two years). When nationalistic tendencies in this border region intensified in the late 1930s, the Picek family fled from Liberec to Prague. Bohumila began to attend the grammar school in Karlínská Street in Prague and then she followed her mother’s wish and learnt the furrier’s trade. Anti-Jewish restrictions and regulations affected their family as well. Bohumila was going to Hagibor where she was in touch with her Jewish peers and where she met members of the leftist Zionist organization Hashomer Ha-Tsair. Just like other children from mixed families, Bohumila was expecting an order to join a transport to the Terezín ghetto. On March 3, 1943 she passed through the assembly place in the Trade Fair Palace and from there she went to Terezín. After three days in the ghetto she was transferred to the Jugendheim (children’s home) and later to Mädchenheim L-410 (girls’ home). At first she worked in a cabinet-making workshop in the ghetto and then she did agricultural work outside of the ghetto. She met her first love while in the ghetto, but the boy then left in a transport and they never saw each other again. Bohumila survived in the ghetto until the end of the war. Immediately before the liberation of Terezín, on May 1st or 2nd, 1945, she and her friend decided to escape from the ghetto. Via Bohušovice she got to Prague where the Prague Uprising meanwhile broke out. After the war Bohumila studied photography at the school of graphic design and she got a job in the editorial office of the Rudé Právo newspaper. After her maternity leave she worked as a librarian in the Encyclopaedic Institute of the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences and later also in VELAZ (large-scale breeding station for laboratory animals). Bohumila Havránková died on December 5th, 2022.