Mgr. Eva Kotková

* 1932  

  • “Then the purges started in 1974 and I got involved in them. I had to be interviewed by a certain committee who should judge the person, and their decision was that I was expelled. The one to officially expel me was the district secretary of the Communist Party, his name was Hofírek, and I told him that he had been seated next to me during the Party Meeting Extraordinary and that I was surprised that he was kicking me out now. He said that was in the state of erroneous judgment for three days. And after this error, he healed and now he was elsewhere again. It thus became clear that I wouldn’t be allowed to teach any more and around Christmas, in the last months of 1947, I was trying to find a job all over the place. My husband was expelled from the Party as well so we were in similar situation. Our children were quite small then so we needed to get some money and to run a functioning houssehold.”

  • „I don’t know how to describe it, how he protected her. He simply did not divorce her. I also know that there were some discussions, that the divorce was mentioned as an option. And later, I knew that when a divorce did happen, then, for example, a mother was sent to Terezín with the children while the divorced husband who was not a Jew, stayed. For our family, that was impossible. Only grandma left to Terezín. I remember the preparations. She had a certain number. I might have written it down and remembered. Everything had to be, the suitcase and so on, marked with that number. [I remember] How she packed and how mom accompanied her somewhere to that meeting place before departure for Terezín.”

  • “What I found the most annoying was the attitude towards people, that it was requested not to think too much and simply follow the opinions which should be prevalent in the society, and a person should not protest. Should someone protest, then they would get into unpleasant situations. That was what would dissuaded me.” “When you compare the totalitarian German Reich and the Communist rule, do you see some parallels?” “The beginnings were not similar at all, it [the post-war development and Communist rule] was like a breath of fresh air, a new start of something different, something right. However, later on, it became apparent that there were clear parallels and things one had thought to be made possible thanks to Communist ideas would not be fulfilled. This did not happen right then, only after some time. At the beginning, there was enthusiasm, then, disappointment set in.”

  • “And this is an important thing to say, in 1942, the transports to Terezín started, and I even received a letter, when a mailman shoved an envelope to my hand, a summons for my grandmother. My grandma left for Terezín in August 1942, aged 76. I hope that I can say now that we had never received a single letter from her. Mom would send her a package as often as it was permitted, I am not sure about it, every three months or so but we did not hear back from grandma. And after the war – by then, mom was not among us any more but I will get to that later – my father found out that pretty soon after her arrival to Terezín, grandma was sent to Treblinka. And as we all know, Treblinka was purely an extermination camp so she was probably gassed right away. Many relatives, I mean, of my mother and grandmother, lived in Prague and they kept leaving when they were Jewish families who were not protected by someone. And I was, frankly, sent by my mother to say the goodbyes for our whole family. Sometimes she would go there with me but my mother had an issue with wearing that yellow star on her coat in public. She felt it degrading to be marked this way.“

  • “My mom was summoned for a transport in around the end of January. She was terribly scared and she couldn’t imagine that she would have to leave a 12-year-old daughter and a son who was not six yet so she tried to postpone the matter by getting her umbilical hernia operated. She had a rather serious case of umbilical hernia after my brother had been born but she would always say – first, she was able to manage it somehow when the hernia got incarcerated, as they call it, but she kept saying that she would get the surgery after the war would end. She probably meant [that she would get operated on by] some of her acquaintances in the medical field. But as this situation arose, so, I would accompany her to various Jewish hospitals for various tests before the surgery. Then, she left for a Jewish hospital on the 6th of February and maybe she got her surgery right on the 7th. I and my brother, along with our aunt, who at that time stayed with us – she was the sister of my father – so, we visited mom twice in hospital. We brought her some soup and something to eat. She kept photographs of us at her bedside, she even wrote certain letters to us. And on the 9th of February, the phone rang, and the Jewish hospital announced that mom had died. Some sort of embolism happened, a heart infarction, and mom died. So, the attempt to postpone the transport had this tragic end.”

  • “My resignation had to be approved by the school committee and this school committee of the Revolutionary Unions Movement disagreed. So, it was a rather rare case when they would thus express their disagreement, and it has to be passed to the higher-up committee, so it was the district body of the Union which approved the notice. The whole school where I had been teaching, they all stood on my side. Even the schoolmaster supported me. Then the school got some sort of reprisals and the headmaster got some sort of Communist Party letter of reprimand because he supported a person which was considered an enemy of the people. This meant, thought, that I knew the school had backed me and for some time, I was thinking about taking it to the court, which would have been possible. I even found some attorney who agreed that it had been an unlawful termination but I needed some witnesses for my side. And this was something I wouldn’t want to drag anyone into my problems, it was quite probable that they would be considered enemies of the régime as well and as a result, they would be mistreated.“

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    v bytě paní Kotkové, 18.02.2018

    (audio)
    duration: 01:17:50
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
  • 2

    Praha, 24.06.2020

    (audio)
    duration: 01:56:16
    media recorded in project Memory of the Nation: stories from Praha 2
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

She refused to go out with the yellow Star of David on her lapel

Portrait of Eva Kotková. Prague, 1967
Portrait of Eva Kotková. Prague, 1967
photo: archiv pamětnice

Eva Kotková, née Beránková, was born on the 5th of October in 1932 in Prague. Her mother, a physician, was from a Jewish family from Nymburk, her father was originally from Frýdek-Místek. As a result of the ruling of the 27th of March of 1939 of the medical board, Jews were not permitted to work as physicians any more, nor did Eva’s mother. Eva’s grandmother was deported to Terezín and later murdered in Treblinka. Until January 1945, father was able to protect his family as his was a mixed marriage. When Eva’s mother was summoned for a transport, she decided to undergo a surgery. Two days later, she died of a heart infarction. After war, Eva became a teacher and joined the Communist party. In August 1968, excited by the changes in society, she participated in the Meeting Extraordinary of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, the so-called Vysočany Meeting. After the normalisation interviews and background checks, she was expelled from the Communist party, she had to leave the school and the only jobs she was allowed to do were the manual ones. Nowadays, she lives in Prague with her children and grandchildren.