Věra Jílková

* 1922  

  • “To begin with in Terezín there was the option, if a person wanted to work, they could apply for it. So I went straight away to apply to what was called the Kinderfürsorge, that means they cared for children. I was allocated to the children’s home immediately. We lived in the Hamburg Barracks, and this small, but very good children’s home was in the ground floor of these barracks. It was for about a hundred girls from ten to twelve thirteen years old. We had to care for those from morning till evening. In Terezín it was still possible to teach the children. I did all that, albeit secretly, with the Jewish children who were not allowed to go to school any more, so I applied for that, which was right and good. I was there in the children’s home from morning till evening, we even had night duties, we had to be there for them day and night, even when there was some small illness, we had to deal with that too. There were six of us carers, mostly they were all great women. Having the opportunity, I must mention the name of Doctor Truda Sekaninová, who I became close friends with and whom I loved dearly.”

  • “Fredy Hirsch thought he would save the children. That didn’t work out. And when he saw that he wouldn’t be successful, he got very nervous. So he requested, I think, it’s said, an hour to consider things, because all the adults expected that... The war was still far from end... He tried to form some group of people who would protest somehow, who would defend themselves even, because when the last transport was there, in the camp, we expected that we would also be told that we would go somewhere and that we too would die in the end. Everyone thought that the person who’d lead some kind of resistance would be Fredy Hirsch. And when he saw that he wasn’t having any success, because he could see that already, he asked for an hour to consider things. Whether he’d take it, or whether he wouldn’t. When he saw it wasn’t going to work, then what he did - he ate the pills. So he didn’t save the children, all the children died. Unless something extraordinary happened, all the children died.”

  • “What was it like? When we came to Hronov, we had a free ride because we didn’t have any money. It was a Sunday, because of the market. We went to the house, Máňa wasn’t there, but her husband was there, and he said that Máňa was at the cinema. I don’t know how he did it, but a moment later the city loudspeakers were requesting Mrs Zilvarová to return, that the Holzner girls had come back. Máňa came running, it was amazing, they had two rooms, they cleared out one room for us, Máňa made our beds, they gave us their own ones, we took it all. Máňa baked us cakes and cooked for us, a plateful of cakes, we lay on the beds, and we either slept, or gorged ourselves with cakes.”

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    Praha Hagibor, 05.03.2014

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The Kinderheim in Auschwitz was a miracle

Věra Jílková, 2014
Věra Jílková, 2014
photo: Eye Direct

Věra Jílková, née Holznerová, was born on 1 February 1922 in Hronov, to a Czech-oriented Jewish family. Her father did business in textiles, her mother cared for their two daughters and kept the house. After being expelled from the grammar school in Náchod for racial reasons, she completed her secondary school studies at the Jewish grammar school in Brno. In December 1942 she and the whole Holzner family were transported to the ghetto in Terezín. Věra was assigned as a carer in the girls’ children’s home, the so-called Heim. In December 1943 the whole family was transported to Auschwitz. The witness continued working with children and adolescents in the children’s home established in Auschwitz by Fredy Hirsch. In June 1944 she and her younger sister Lydie passed through selection, and in early July they were taken to the Christianstadt labour camp, an affiliate camp of Gross Rosen. When Gross Rosen was evacuated in late February 1945, she and her sister were sent on a death march to Camp Flossenbürg and ended up in Bergen-Belsen in March 1945. There she was liberated in late April 1945. After the war Věra Jílková and her sister returned to Hronov. Both their parents had died during the war. The witness studied at the Faculty of Arts of Charles University in Prague, until 1969 she worked at the Czechoslovak Press Office (ČTK news agency), later she was employed at the Municipal Library in Prague. Even after going into retirement she taught English and worked with young people. Věra Jílková is a widow and she lives in a care home in Prague-Hagibor.