Ing. Pavel Jelínek

* 1935

  • “I have been in close contact with Mrs Lhotová who had been working at the Museum of North Bohemia. Toady, she has been working here at the college in the history department. And she would find some documents regarding the Liberec synagogue, the Opava synagogue and some other synagogue stating that these buildings had been insured. So our synagogue had been insured, I can´t remember the name of the company, but later it had been taken over by Generali insurance company. And as I would find quite a lot about it on the Internet, in the end I would contact the company telling them they should meet their obligations. I had the calculations done and it was about ninety-six million Czk. So I would contact the and they would send me an official replay, well the town got it of course. An official letter stating that we wouldn´t get anything as we had to report the accident to the company within ten days, hence according to German law back then we couldn´t claim anything. So I would write them that in 1938, ten days after the synagogue had been burned, there would be no one left, probably, and that I was certain that all the Liberec Jewish community officials who could do that were gone. After that, no one would get back to me.”

  • “Maybe the worst trouble we would got into, in... it was in 1958 I think, no, in 1956... there was this May Day festival going on and some educational system reform was just being implemented. So we would join the parade carrying a coffin with the 'Educational system reform' written on it. And of course we would get into trouble, they would interrogate us and so on. But there were almost no consequences. But of course, as I would study materials from the archive, which had been in Pardubice as you probably know, I would find these statements made by... how should I put it? By the Secret Police snitches. So I could read about all the things I did back then as well as the things I didn´t do. And for the record I have to say that I found people I thought of as my friends among the snitches.”

  • “At the end of the war, as the Germans were retreating so they could surrender to the Americans, there quite large convoys going through Hořepník taking the road from Tábor to Humpolec. And there were also the so-called 'national guests' among them, you might know who they were, as they were refugees from Eastern Prussia. And at the end of the war, on 8th of May, before the Russians came from the other side, as they would come from the right angle on the main road, some partisans, or how should a I call them, would scatter the road with broken glass, with glass shreds, so naturally, they would blow some tires there. And the convoy commander wanted revenge, so he was going to shoot some people from Hořepník. But my grandfather, who was the mayor back then and with whom he had negotiated, managed to talk him out of it.”

  • “The truth was that after she got that document my mother couldn´t leave the house. She just spent some time in the garden till the war was over, and to my surprise, even as I would say that everyone had to know about it given the size of the town, no one would report her and we managed to survive there till the war was over. And by the way, from time to time we had to report to Gestapo in Tábor, maybe forty kilometres from Hořepník. We had to walk to Pacov as we were not allowed to go by bus. In Pacov we would meet another family which had been living there. He used to be a musical director at Mr Werich and Mr Voskovec´s theatre. And from Pacov railway station we would go in a special railway carriage with a sign – Nur für Juden – that´s how we would get to Tábor. And to my surprise, as I was visiting the city maybe fifteen years ago, I would remember the route we took in detail . As we were not allowed to take the main avenue from the railway station, so we had to make this detour along the Jordán pound.”

  • “My parents didn´t divorce. My father was so brave that they didn´t divorce, and he would save my mother´s life, as he would bribe a German physician at the agency which resided in today´s Ministry of Foreign Affairs building. And he would give him so much that he wrote my mother this certificate stating that she couldn´t be transported as she was gravely ill. That was in 1942, and I can still remember it very well, as my mother had already packed her backpack and she stood in front of me and my two-year old brother and cried. And at the last moment, my father would bring that paper so we were saved. Well, not me. I had been ordered to go to the camp in 1945. As a so-called Mischling I had to go to a special camp as a ten-year old. On April 27th 1945. Regrettably, I mean luckily, the Germans had already been occupying themselves with something else. So instead to the camp we would go to the woods where we would live in a gamekeeper´s lodge for a few days. The Germans had other things to do than to look for us. So I am still here.”

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    Liberec, 24.09.2019

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The whole entire world is a very narrow bridge and the main thing is to have no fear at all

Pavel Jelínek, around 1960
Pavel Jelínek, around 1960
photo: archiv Pavla Jelínka

Pavel Jelínek was born on April 27th of 1935 in Liberec. His mother, Marie née Ledererová, was Jewish, while his father, Josef Jelínek, was a Catholic. After the annexation of Sudetenland in 1938, Pavel moved to the inland with his family. They would settle temporarily in Lysá nad Labem, from where his grandmother, Josefa Ledererová, had been deported to Treblinka extermination camp. To find a shelter, the family moved to the town of Hořepník, where Pavel´s father was born, and where his grandfather had been a mayor. However, the authorities were able to locate Pavel´s mother and she reportedly avoided being transported to the concentration camp by bribing a German physician. Pavel Jelínek had been summoned to the ‘mixed marriage’ children transport at the end of the war, as a ten-year old, but he managed to avoid it as he had been hiding in a gamekeeper´s lodge deep in the woods. Most of his Jewish relatives were murdered in the camps and his father died shortly after the war. In 1948, Pavel Jelínek moved with his mother and two siblings from Liberec to Nymburk where he graduated from gymnasium. He applied for České učení technické in Praha, but was offered a chance to study textile engineering at the newly established university in Liberec. He was among its first graduates and he went on designing textile factories. In the 80s, his son Pavel emigrated to Germany via Yugoslavia. In the 90s, the witness had established a successful business of which he also was a director. After 1989, he was the head of the Jewish Community in Liberec for thirty years. During that time, the synagogue and the cemetery has been restored, a Shoah memorial had been built and tens of Stolpersteine had been installed.