Chava Pressburgerová

* 1930  †︎ 2022

  • “The fact that my parents were faithful, idealistic Esperantists made our life much more interesting. We often had guests from abroad, of various nationalities, who were sleeping in our apartment. Negroes, too. I remember when I saw a Negro for the first time, his name was Kola Jai. It was some time before Christmas, when there was the custom to put on a costume and mask of devil and St Nicholas. Dad went on the street with that Negro man, his Esperanto friend. One lady got terribly scared and she began screaming: ´Devil, there is a Devil! It was the first time she saw a Negro. The guests spoke Esperanto to us, and with the little Esperanto we knew, it was very interesting.”

  • “My name is now Chava Pressburger, and my original name was Eva Ginzová. I got the name Pressburger from my husband. I was born in Prague, and so was my brother Petr. We are an old Czech family, part of whom was of Jewish faith like my father. We, the two children, were sent to a Jewish elementary school in Prague as well. Mom was not Jewish, she came from the Hradec Králové region, from a little village called Čibuc. Her father, my grandpa from the mother’s side, was a country teacher. That kind of person the writer Božena Němcová describes in her book Mr. Teacher.”

  • “We were liberated by the Red Army and we returned home on one of their trucks. We used a special signal, a whistling sound. We lived on the fourth floor. We whistled when we were down on the street, and mom saw the two of us standing down there and she asked: ´Where is Petr?´ We were then waiting for Petr to return, but he was not coming home. The entire family of my father’s died as well. His two sisters, and two brothers, and relatives, all his cousins. Grandma died while still in Terezín. We thus knew that it was hopeless, that Petr would not return anymore.”

  • “We had a special status, an advantage that we belonged to two cultures, to the Jewish culture and the Christian culture. We were thus able to draw from both sides. In the Jewish grandmother’s home there were books left behind by my grandpa, collection of some old prints, and various interesting things that she had in her household. In the Christian half of the family, where we would go for Christmas, it was totally different. We were getting presents under a Christmas tree, and we liked that, too. The atmosphere was full of love, and we were thus drawing from both sides. I have very fond memories of our stays in Hradec.”

  • “We were growing up in Prague in the Petrská Quarter. Our household was Czech-Jewish; Jewish since my mom had learnt from our Jewish grandmother all the regulations and prohibitions regarding Kosher eating. Our household was kosher. Meat was not cooked together with milk products, and so on. I also remember where we used to buy meat, it was in Dlouhá Street and the shop there was selling only kosher meat. I am saying this just to show how my mom adapted to Jewish customs although she had been raised as a Catholic. But she and her sister Božena, who later married the well-known actor Ota Sklenčka, were two revolutionaries in this way, so to speak.”

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    Omer, Izrael, 08.04.2014

    duration: 01:06:05
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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We were able to draw from both cultures

ginzova_1939_03965v.jpg (historic)
Chava Pressburgerová
photo: dobová fotografie z roku 1939

Chava Pressburgerová was born in 1930 as Eva Ginzová in a mixed Czech-Jewish family. She comes from a very learned and cultural environment. Her parents, both Esperanto speakers, met during a congress in Prague. She was born in Prague, and with her brother Petr, who was two years older, they lived in the Petrská Quarter in Prague. Eva and Petr were classified as first degree Jewish half-breeds and they were sent to the ghetto in Terezín after they turned fourteen. Petr joined the transport in 1942, Eva followed him two years later. While in Terezín, Petr Ginz was publishing a boys’ magazine Vedem and writing his journal. Ginz’s name is now also known in relation to his drawing, which the Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon took with him on board the Columbia space shuttle whose flight ended tragically. Eva met her brother in Terezín, but only for a brief time, since he was transported to Auschwitz in September 1944 where he later died. Eva and her father have survived until the liberation, and their mother, who was not Jewish, has survived the war in Prague. During a winter stay for Zionist youth Eva met her husband-to-be Jindřich (Avraham) Pressburger who came from Slovakia. In 1948 they went to France to organize the emigration of Jews from there, and in 1949 they emigrated to Israel. Chava Pressburgerová devoted her life in Israel to fine arts, she became known as a painter and she was teaching at an arts school. Recently she focuses on spreading the legacy of her brother and she published his annotated diaries under the title Journals of My Brother. Chava Pressburger and her husband lived in Omer near the Israeli city Beersheba. Chava Pressburgerová died on September 3, 2022.