Petr Lang

* 1924

  • "At the end of the season you could switch teams, the cooks had an advantage, they gave their players an extra helping. That was professionalism. An extra dumpling. The cooks and the butchers had the strongest teams. Farmers for instance, they just played out of conviction, but they couldn't compete. The players who were in football before, they all played for the cooks or the butchers. Those were clearly the strongest teams."

  • "The whole family arrived at Terezín at the same time. All the Jews from Třebíč were in one train. Twenty kilo suitcase per person is what was allowed, so it wasn't a 'problem'. We all fitted in. In Terezín they separated us, of course. My sister was in the home for girls, my mother in one of the barracks, my father in another one, I went into the home for youths. But only because they knew me from the youth movement. That's also why I stayed in Terezín, most were sent straight on East. The Zionists in Terezín had, as they had arrived there first, what I would call extra favours. I stayed there till September 1944. I was in Terezín for almost two and a half years. Then they sent me on, through Auschwitz to Kaufering, near Dachau, and then to Litoměřice. From there I got back to Terezín. I started my Odyssey in Terezín, and that's where I ended it. Terezín was still easy living. I say: the symptoms of that are that we would still laugh. When we got to Auschwitz, that was a catastrophy. We didn't live there, we held off death there. When one realised that, well, just imagine how he felt."

  • "The question that every normal person of my age asks himself is: If you could relive your life, would you do the same as you did? Apart from the concentration camp, since I moved to Israel, I think I lived a humble, yet good life. In my opinion, personal welfare depends on how much joy one experiences daily, monthly, yearly, in his whole life. I don't think I would have more joy in another life. I have three children, everything was great. When there's money, that doesn't matter either. Before I married, I thought to myself: 'My wife must be pretty, she mustn't be stupid, it'll be good if she's clever and if she has money, I won't mind that one bit.' That's my Jewish ideology."

  • "It was completely collective, everything was common property. At first I had clothes (prepared) there with my name on them. There was a laundry there, and everyone took clothes according to the size they wore, whichever they wanted. Everything was common. It worked for almost ten years. The clothes were common, at the beginning I lived in a tent, afterwards as a married couple we had just one room, the toilet and the bathroom were some fifty metres away."

  • "I only have fond memories of Terezín, but it wouldn't be like that if I hadn't gone to Auschwitz. Then I would have thought it was terrible. Everything in life is relative. I would have told you how we hungered there. Today I know that that was no hunger. I have fond memories, because I was sent on. The people who remained there thought they were in Hell. They don't know that they weren't."

  • "How did the kibbutz workduring it's pioneering years, and how does it work today? They started privatising it now. (Today's) young, already third generation, and partially the second one, don't want to live collectively. During the old kibbutz there was almost no envy. When envy appeared, the kibbutz started to get divided. Beforehand it wasn't a problem. We had a common canteen, a few cars. (If you needed one), you wrote yourself down and you got the keys. There were no big problems. There were problems... when the envy started, it was worse. He didn't give all his earnings to the kibbutz, and so on... Envy is one of the worst of human attributes."

  • "We had a football league in Terezín. How did it work? The teams were of six people, the goalie, two backs, three forwards. Like mini football nowadays, on hockey fields. Mostly it was according to profession. The cooks had their team, the butchers too, there was a youth team. All in all some ten teams. That was the league. People cheered them on. As many on-lookers as would fit in the barracks' courtyard. The courtyards were all the same, with bowers, that's where the rooms were. So people stood in the corridors and cheered on. It was almost impossible to get through there when it was football time. Every Sunday there were some two or three matches. They played twice thirty minutes. That was great, we shouted ourselves hoarse. It was possible to switch teams, but the season had to be completed with the one same team. They had their own football kit. Some of the players had been in the game outside aswell, in Austria, in Germany. Those were pretty good football players."

  • "Terezín was still easy living! We were hungry, or more like, we thought it was hunger. Hunger, as in the positive sense, that we had a big appetite for food. We thought we were hungry and in normal circumstances that would have been hunger. You couldn't get fat there."

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Givat Chaim Ichud, Izrael, 18.10.2006

    duration: 01:17:09
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

Before I married, I thought to myself: ‘My wife must be pretty, she mustn’t be stupid, it’ll be good if she’s clever and if she has money, I won’t mind that one bit’ That’s my Jewish ideology

Petr Lang during Six Days War
Petr Lang during Six Days War
photo: archiv pamětníka

Petr Lang was born in 1924 in Jihlava in to a Czech-German Jewish family. Shortly after the occupation of Jihlava by the Germans, Lang’s parents were moved out of their appartment to Třebíč, the fifteen-year-old Petr was sent to Prague to apprenticeship. After a year he returned to his parents in Třebíč and in May 1942 they were all taken to Terezín. Lang lasted in the Terezín ghetto for more than two years, in the last year of the war he survived the camps in Auschwitz, Kaufering and the labour camp in Litoměřice, ending up in Terezín again. His parents did not survive, but his sister did. After the war he finished school and in 1947 he was drafted into compulsory service. After a year and a half he signed up to the Jewish military transport, in February 1949 he landed in Haifa, Israel. During the Sinai War in 1956, Lang served with the artillery, during the Six-Day War he was already retrained for tank combat. He took part in operations in Gaza and the Golan Heights. He still lives in Israel in the kibbutz Givat Chaim Ichud, he worked in several functions in the local farm co-op. After the fall of Communism he visits the Czech Republic every year, to see his friends.