Gertruda Milerská

* 1933

  • "We had such a roll on the door frames, and there were ten commandments of God in that roll. It was nailed to the door frame. And my dad picked us up every night before we went to bed and we had to kiss it. And when he took us to the synagogue on Saturday afternoon, we laughed terribly because we didn't understand it at all. They bowed and prayed, and we, sitting upstairs, just laughed like children. And there was a white-tiled room in that synagogue, and poultry was being killed there for the Kosher. We used to go there to watch."

  • "I ran away from the cellar once. They didn't know us in Třinec. We were blondes, we weren't black like Jews are. Children went to a German town school around the evangelical church. My sister didn't run away with me, she was scared. I really wanted to see what the school, class, blackboard looked like, I was very curious. And I asked a little girl to smuggle me into class, that I would carry her schoolbag. She didn't know anything, so she gave me the schoolbag and I carried it to the school. There were no slippers, so I walked in tights up the cold stairs to the classroom and sat down next to her. Now the teacher came and made a list of who was missing. And she looked at me and asked what school I came from. I spoke excellent German, so I told her in German that I didn't attend any school because I couldn't. And she asks why. I said to her, 'Because I am a Jew.' She made a terrible scandal, how I dare, and she kicked me away. Out of that fear, I peed at the school bench. I ran home crying. Mom was at work. When she arrived in the evening, I didn't sleep and confessed what had happened. She gave me a thrashing. She said she cared so much for us, didn't sleep, worrying at work for eight hours if the Gestapo had come to us, and I would do something like that. So, I got it."

  • "One of the Jews arrived because the synagogue was on fire. Dad said, 'So it's over. It´s over.' It was a short walk from where we lived. We went out in front of the house, and that was a glare! And that smoke. So, we were watching it. Then they put it out and one morning, I don't know what day it was, dad and mom took us and we went to see it. It was all burned out. Just ashes, it was still smoldering. Then they cleaned it up and there was silence. I found a folding knife there, which I had in the basement the whole time."

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Ostrava, 19.01.2022

    (audio)
    duration: 02:06:37
    media recorded in project Příběhy regionu - STM REG ED
  • 2

    Ostrava, 09.02.2022

    (audio)
    duration: 01:27:08
    media recorded in project Příběhy regionu - STM REG ED
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The girls were hiding from death in a cellar for six years

Gertruda Milerská (on the right) with her older sister Hanne in the late 1930s
Gertruda Milerská (on the right) with her older sister Hanne in the late 1930s
photo: archive of Gertruda Milerská

Gertruda Milerská, née Lachsová, was born on January 26, 1933 in Třinec. Her father Ferdinand was a Jew originally from Lviv, her mother Helena was a Catholic of Polish nationality. The couple had an umbrella workshop and a thriving business before the war. After Germany invaded Poland in 1939 and occupied Cieszyn region, including Trinec, the Nazis arrested Ferdinand Lachs and took him to a concentration camp. He died in Auschwitz. Until the end of the war, her mother was hiding Gertrude and her one-year-old sister Hanne in a cellar in Třinec. Their mother´s acquaintance arranged that their baptismal certificates disappeared from the registry. The witness´s mother worked in Třinecké železárny and also went to help the farmers to support the children for whom she did not receive food stamps. The sisters learned to read, write and count in the basement. Gertrude first went to school when she was twelve years old. She worked in Třinecké železárny and engaged in various sports. She competed successfully in swimming, canoeing and cross-country skiing. She got married and had two children. It was not until the 1990s that she claimed her Jewish roots. She became a member of the Jewish organization Hidden Child. The Ministry of Defense granted her the status of a participant in the national liberation struggle and a political prisoner from 1939 to 1945. In 2022, she lived in Třinec.