“During an American bombing run everyone in Auschwitz hid away, but one boy and I set off to the central warehouse to get potatoes. Imagine the lunacy! We tied our uniform up with string and crammed it with potatoes. At one point the boy told me: ‘We’ve got enough, we have to go.’ My voracity made me stay; suddenly I turn round and see an SS man standing behind - of whom it was known that he took people into the cellar and beat them to death with a stick - and he gestured at me with his finger: come here, come here! So I went, and the potatoes poured out all around me. I wasn’t afraid, you know, I just kept jabbering something about hunger like I’d lost my mind. He didn’t listen to me, he took me into the cellar, took a stick, hit me five times, and said: ‘You’re no coward, Jew. Why are you doing it? Why are you stealing potatoes?’ To which I said we were hungry. ‘What, you’re hungry? But I send so much food into the camp!’ I told him we didn’t get it. ‘If this happens again, come and find me immediately, and I’ll show them,’ he promised, and he went and gave me two pieces of bread. So I thought: ‘Well, don’t I have me a friend...’ Some three days later he passed by me, I reported that nothing had changed, to which he slapped me twice and resumed his walk. So I lost my friend...”
“The newspapers ran an article saying that the Leader had given the Jews the city of Terezín, where they could live, work, dance, enjoy themselves, make love, and so on. Some three hundred young men - including myself - were chosen to prepare the city for the income of Jews from all over Europe. We were given a fair amount of food of decent quality, the work wasn’t too demanding, and everything went pretty much like clockwork until the day when one boy clumsily threw a letter over the wall, and the guards intercepted it. Oberscharführer Berger, who was an incredible bastard, had us all assemble, and he gave us his word of honour as a German officer that if the person who wrote the letter would own up, he will be pardoned. Unfortunately, the boy did own up. I can see him as if it was today... Three days later there was another assembly, but the platform from which the commander usually spoke was replaced with a gallows, and he hanged the boy in front of all of us there. At that point we realised that life in Terezín would not be roses all the way.”
“The Terezín ghetto contained world-class singers and celebrity pianists like Gedeon Klein. And it was the same for other disciplines... Rafael Schächter organised a chamber concert in Terezín, together with Karel Ančerl they put an orchestra together and performed whole operas.”
A director who worked in Germany from September 1968 and never emigrated
František Miška was born on 27 August 1919 into a Jewish family in Prague. During his secondary-school years he co-founded the Young Theatre Group with the likes of Pavel Tigrid, Jiří Orten, and Josef Schwarz. In 1939 he spent five and a half months in Pankrác Prison for putting up anti-Nazi posters. In autumn 1941 he was assigned to the so-called Aufbaukommando (construction commando), which was to prepare the Terezín barracks for a large income of people. He helped establish an amateur theatre group in the Terezín ghetto, and he initiated the performance of Marriage under the direction of Gustav Schorsch. In 1944 he was sent from Terezín to Auschwitz. He survived two death marches towards the end of the war, he was interned in concentration camps Bolkenheim and Buchenwald. He returned to Prague in spring 1945 and a job at the Kladno theatre troop during the performing break. His first successes on the stage were followed up by film roles and a switch to the Realistic Theatre in Prague. In the late 1940s early 50s he was employed at the State Film Theatre, he later accepted an offer of the Municipal Theatres of Prague; he stayed on this scene for thirty-five years. From the mid-1960s he was continuously engaged as a theatre director. In August 1968 he was given the position of guest director in Düsseldorf; he maintained the same function in various West German and Swiss towns until 1983, when he was made executive director of municipal theatre in Baden-Badel (1983-1996). In 1996 he took up the job of executive director of the theatre in Příbram (1996-1999). At the same time he and his wife Ludmila Píchová founded and funded the First Prague Student Theatre. František Miška zemřel 15. února 2017.