Eva Merclová

* 1931

  • “The camp in Svatobořice was set up as a hostage camp for the relatives of those soldiers who went to abroad to fight Nazism in foreign armies. The families of General Hasal, Klapálek and other outstanding personalities. They even held the brother of Mr. Voskovec there. When the camp was established, there was also a Jewish-house in the corner of the camp and they allegedly treated the Jews terribly. They commander was a man called ‘Punťa’. He was a really cruel man. When I came there, he had already been reassigned somewhere else. The new commander was Schuster and he was much more humane. I remember that once he walked into the Kinderheim, which was an emergency housing located in one corner of the camp, and he would tell good-night stories to the children. I was eleven years old then and my sister was eight. He tried to remain a human. He prevented all the atrocities that had been common place there before.”

  • “It was on the broadcast, they announced that the children would come back on 12 May, so their relatives came to pick them up. Fortunately we had a grandmother who took care of us. As I told you she had a villa in Žižkov where we later lived and we also graduated. We were very lucky that we've had a grandmother ... She was sixty-four when we came back. From today's perspective, this is not an incredibly high age, but anyway, if you consider that she had to raise two girls, fourteen and eleven years old ... Sometimes it happened that the siblings were split up into different families, although related ones. So, for instance, one of them would end up in one parent’s family and the other one in the family of the other parent. Sometimes, they weren’t treated very well. Some of them didn’t have an easy life in their new families.”

  • Interviewer: “Did you know General Klapálek?” Mrs. Merclová: “Klapálek, General Hasal, yes, I told. Mrs. Hasal was there with her daughter and they came to our place to clean up so we would chat a bit every now and then. I also got to know Mrs. Klapálková, her name was Olga and they called her ‘Páťa’. We even met long after the war. We all secretly tried to keep in touch. Professor Marková, who was interned there but was charged with overseeing the Kinderheim at the same time. The same is true for professor Louda who was responsible for overseeing the boys. He only stayed there for a short time. Eventually, there was aunt Šperlová. I mean we called her aunt because she was very close to us all. She was a great lady and really had a heart for us. She became a haven for many of us there.”

  • “In the beginning, we were imprisoned in Jenerálka, which is a little chateau in Prague 6. The Gestapo took us there gradually. Me and my sister were taken there on August 28 and by then, there were already some five kids whose parents had been arrested. The Gestapo arrested the parents and brought the kids there. In our case, we weren’t brought there right after the arrest of our parents. My parents were arrested on July 14 and we were left to spend the holidays with my grandparents. When we came back on that August 28, my uncle, grandmother and the Gestapo were waiting for us at the train station. So they picked us up at that train station more than a month after they had arrested our parents. Then they took us to Jenerálka and they were subsequently bringing other kids there. Until November 1942, we were 45 kids there.”

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    Obvodní výbor Svazu bojovníků za svobodu v Praze 6 , 24.04.2012

    duration: 39:33
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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When we returned from holidays, my uncle, my grandmother and the Gestapo were waiting at the train station for us

PTDC0018 ořez.jpg (historic)
Eva Merclová
photo: Karel Kužel

Eva Merclová, née Hejlová, was born on 6 July, 1931, in the family of František Hejl and Milada Hejlová in Strašnice in Prague, where she also attended school. Her father was the leader of a Scout district called Barak. Here he met his future wife and the mother of Mrs. Merclová ​​and her sister Hanka. The Scouts formed the Jindra resistance group in the very beginning of the Nazi occupation as they rightly expected the occupiers to dismantle their organization. In 1939, the Nazis arrested the leaders of the Scout and the Jindra group was helping the families of those who had been arrested. The group also supported the paratroopers who assassinated Heydrich. On 14 July, 1942, the Gestapo arrested the parents of Mrs. Merclová and the children Eva and Hanka remained alone in the garden in front of the sealed apartment. The children were eventually adopted by family friends from Jaroměřice nad Rokytnou who took care of them for the rest of the holidays. But when the children were returning back to their grandmother in late August, they were arrested at the Denisovo nádraží train station and taken to the Gestapo at Jenerálka. The children remained there until April 1944, when they were moved to Svatobořice in Moravia, near Kyjov. The Svatobořice camp had been set up as a hostage camp for the relatives of those soldiers who joined foreign armies, or other important personalities. When the Red Army was approaching Hodonín in April 1945, the Germans released about half of the prisoners and the rest, including the children, was transported to the former labor camp in Planá nad Lužnicí. With the Red Army approaching, the threat of riots materialized and so the adults organized the transfer of the children to the nearby Turovec where they stayed at a local inn till 12 May, when they returned back home. Back at home, their grandmother took care of them, trying to replace their parents, who had been executed in Mauthausen, as good as she could. Mrs. Merclová’s mother was executed on 24 October, 1942, and her father on 26 January, 1943. Eva Hejlová graduated from the Business Academy in Resslova Street (former Edvard Beneš Czechoslovak Academy of Business) and married one year after graduation. In 1957, she gave birth to a son. Mrs. Merclová is an active member of the Czech Union of Freedom Fighters. In 1998, she got involved in the work of a local office of the Union. She’s been working as an accountant and an economist for the Union and the work has keept her happy throughout the long years of her commitment.