Hana Mlejnková

* 1932  

  • “All I can say is about my friend. She was a German, because there were mostly Germans there, right. And she was a German and we had been friends for years. She’d stayed my friend even during the war. A bit more carefully, but still. So I was sorry for her because they dragged her off I didn’t even know how. I don’t know how she fared after that. She just told me one time: ‘Han, you know?’ She was a German. ‘Han, you know that I won’t be here much longer.’ And I said: ‘Why not?’ A silly child. She said: ‘Well, because I’ll have to go home.’ I said: ‘Where, home?’ ‘Well, home, heim ins Reich.’ ”

  • “And they told Mum, when she was getting me ready, they told her I would attend school there and that it was Jewish. Well, but we didn’t go to school, and we didn’t do very well there either. We were hungry a lot because they gave us such small helpings that it wasn’t enough for us as children. It wasn’t that... they didn’t beat us there or anything, only one time I got a cuff and that was that. [Q: What kind of children were there there? What ages?] Well, about my age, around six to eight... From six, seven years and older. [Q: And how many approximately? In tens?] They parents, when they went to the concentration camps, they took their children with them, which I think was a mistake, except they didn’t know that. I know that now.”

  • “He didn’t have it pretty when he came home either. He was hurting. [Q: What do you mean that he didn’t have it pretty?] Well, he didn’t have a pretty life. He was constantly bothered by something, some pains, and also by the way some Czechs are... They avoided him, allegedly so they wouldn’t catch anything from him, but I don’t know what they expected to catch. He didn’t worry about it. He said: ‘Look, Hannie, they’ll get over it in a bit, they’re just not used to it at the moment.’ [Q: Did your brother tell you what he had to go through? Did you know?] No, he didn’t talk about it at all. He hardly said anything about it, because straight off Mum would go: ‘Jesus, Jesus, they did that to you there!’ So he stopped talking about it altogether.”

  • “All the children spoke German, I was the only one who spoke Czech. Fortunately, I knew German because I had lived in the Sudetes, where all the children knew German. That saved me, that I could at least talk with the other girls. The carers didn’t like seeing us group up. [Q: What was to happen with you children?] We were to be gassed, it was all prepared there, I was lucky to come there so late, I survived. We weren’t gassed, we went home.”

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    Praha, 10.02.2014

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One of the carers told me: “Hab keine Angst. You’ll be warm in a few days.”

Hana Mlejnková, née Haislerová, was born in 1932 in the north Bohemian town of Litvínov. She comes from a family of mixed religion, her mother was a Jew and her father a Catholic. Her parents had three daughters, of which Hana was the youngest, and one son. The older daughters were registered as Catholics, but Hana and her brother were filed as Jews. In 1940 the eight-year-old Hana was sent to Hannover in Germany, where she lived in a children’s home, separated from parents, in a strange country. The children’s home was run in German, the children did not attend school, they had to work. After two years she was allowed to return home safely, but she had almost forgotten her native Czech. She spent the rest of the war in Litvínov, the Czechs considered her a German, and the Germans saw her as a Jew. After the war the Germans were expelled from Litvínov and Hana thus lost her only friend. Several years after the war Hana married and left Litvínov with her husband, moving to Prague. She worked as a shop assistant. Hana Mlejnková lives in Prague.