Irena Hešová

* 1926  

  • “I’m surprised to be here. That I survived, psychologically speaking. Because it was terrible. I had these open lace-up shoes on my feet. Nothing packed with me. And we, my mum and I, were told to get moving. Mother said that all the animals were here, we had geese, pigs, I used to pasture the goat, we had chicken, all those we had to sustain ourselves. My mother was happy that we’d been able to save up for all that. She was very capable and efficient in these things. And all that turned to ashes. They said: “Don’t be afraid, these animals will make it.” And my mother said: “She has no proper clothes on her…” “But she’ll be back. She’ll be back, don’t worry.” I never came back. I had lace-up shoes on my feet. And winter came.”

  • “Then there was a little boy and he came there and just cried and screamed. And he had this high and hard voice. He yelled that he wanted his mum that he was not staying there and he begged: “Mister policeman, please, take me to my mum, I want my mum.” And it went on and on. I went up to him and said: “What’s your name? When you cry like this, Jiřík, I can’t understand what you’re saying, and we won’t be able to look for your mum unless you tell us nice and slow what your name is so that we can find her.” And he gave me this look, stopped crying, and said: “Jiříček Karabel, from Pingl, number 20.” And since I was from Bystřice, my mother being from Votice, I knew that in Votice there was a hill called Pingl. So I found out that Jiříčeek Karabel came from Votice. No one would have known for the rest of the war. Because then there was that black something, that… that the relatives found out about this Jiřík. I mean, Jiříček Karabel from Pingl number 20. And he cried so much for his mum. I wanted mine just as much. But I couldn’t cry like that. The other kids could and they did cry for their mothers. And we, the older ones, we cried at night, but never during the day.”

  • “Many of those children, when we washed them and put them into their beds, one said to the other: “Stáňa, we have to pray.” And I would ask: “You know how to pray?” “Well, yes.” And both knelt in their beds and started praying: “Angel of God, my guardian dear…” – they knew this by heart – “to whom God's love commits me here, ever this day be at my shide…” – Stáňa always had troubles with this part – “to light, to guard, to wule, and guide.” ”

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    Praha Národní , 03.10.2016

    (audio)
    duration: 04:31:45
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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I cried into the pillow at night and I comforted the younger children during the day

Irena Hesová in her 15, how her mother remembered her
Irena Hesová in her 15, how her mother remembered her
photo: Irena Hešová

Irena Hešová was born on 3rd November 1926 in southern Slovakia, in the town of Gúta near Komárno, to Czech parents - Jan Heš and Kateřina Hešová. Her father was a police officer and her mother a housewife. They built a house in Bystřice u Benešova and moved there when Irena was three years old. In the summer of 1942 her parents were arrested by the Gestapo for cooperating with the partisans who assassinated the Reichsprotektor Heydrich on 27th May 1942. The Nazis took sixteen year old Irena Hešová and 45 other children into an improvised secret orphanage in Jenerálka, Prague 6. In 1944 the Germans moved them to a camp in Svatobořice. The children saw the end of the war in the camp of Plané nad Lužicí where the Germans had evacuated them as the liberation front kept getting closer. Irena’s parents were executed in October 1942 in Mauthausen. After the war she stayed with her aunt and uncle, the Kotrba family, in Bystřice. She finished her education and settled in Prague.