Ing. Michal Salomonovič

* 1933  †︎ 2019

  • "On the orders of the SS officers, we lay down in the ditch. When the plane flew away, the SS started screaming, shooting in the air, lining up the prisoners and driving them on. And my mother told us to stay lying down. So, we stayed lying in the ditch. When she saw that the march of the prisoners was already far away, she took us and we fled into the forest. Of course, we were in rags, shaven bald, hungry, and we hid in that forest. But we knew we were in the Protectorate. Then we came to the railroad tracks and we heard someone speaking Czech at the tracks. It was a railroad man, a crossing gate man, who had a house there and was in charge of lowering and raising the crossing gates. We begged him desperately to give us something to eat. And he said, 'You know what, I’ll take you to the farmer's.' We walked a little way off, maybe ten minutes, and we came to a farm where there was a farmer, a Czech, who took us to a barn. We hid there and he brought us a whole pot of potatoes in their skins. I still remember how delicious it was to have that warm potato. I ate the first one with the skin on, and I peeled the others."

  • "We survived the bombing by being herded into the basement. The factory had big cellars. And I experienced it in such a way that after the air raids I had such nervous fits, stammering and blinking my eyes all the time. And it was because even in the basement, we could hear when there were explosions because the factory was also hit and the upper floors were burning down. The people in our group who were sick and stayed upstairs burned to death in those bedrooms. After the bombing, we were, of course, assigned to do the clean-up work. We mainly cleared debris from the roads and from the station. And that was again an advantage, because sometimes there was some food, so we even go a little bit to eat."

  • "After the quarantine we were loaded, men separately, women separately, but all of us from that metal department together, three or four wagons, and we went to the next concentration camp, Stutthof. That's on the shore of the Baltic. There we were divided again, men and women separately. It wasn't so strict there anymore, because it was said that our metal department would go to work in the factory in a short while. And an SS officer came in and said that he was responsible for making sure that we were all fit for work, so they brought vitamins, and even if someone just had a cold, they brought aspirins from Bayer, telling us that those who wanted a vitamin should report. Dad said, 'You know what, stay here, I'll sign up and bring you some vitamins.' The Polish Jews said it was a bluff, that it wasn't true, that they wanted to see if anybody was sick. But Dad said he believed the officer. He spoke German well and he asked for a vitamin. And they took those prisoners who had requested vitamins to the infirmary and there they murdered them with an injection to the heart. My father died in the infirmary. I stayed in the group of Polish prisoners."

  • “I was assigned as a locksmith's apprentice in a factory in 1941, where I was put in charge of a pile of textile machine needles. I was small but nimble and I could see well, so I straightened out the needles to make them reusable. I was always given a pile of needles, and I had to sort them according to which textile machine they belonged to so that they could be used again, so that they pull the threads and make textiles for the Germans again. The big advantage here was that we were given one soup without ration tickets and without money. The shifts in the factories were usually twelve hours or longer. We worked seven days a week, but the advantage was that we could be with Mom and Dad at night.”

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    Praha, 27.06.2017

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I kept having to wonder how people had become such hateful murderers

Michal Salomonovič / Ostrava / 1945
Michal Salomonovič / Ostrava / 1945
photo: archiv Michala Salomonoviče

Michal Salomonovič was born on 6 October 1933 into a Jewish family in Ostrava. His father, Erich Salomonovič , was included in the first ever attempted transport of European Jews to Nisko nad Sanem, where he built a so-called retraining camp. After its disbandment, he returned to his family, who had since moved to Prague. In November 1941, Michal, his parents, and younger brother were deported to the ghetto in Lodz (Litzmannstadt) in occupied Poland. In 1944, the Nazis took them to the Auschwitz concentration camp and then to Stutthof on the Baltic coast, where his father Erich Salomonovič was murdered. He was transported with his mother and brother to a labor camp in Dresden. In the basement of the munitions factory, they survived the three-day bombing of the city in February 1945. In southern Bohemia they managed to escape from a Death March. After the war, they returned to Ostrava. The witness graduated from the Mining University and worked at the New Steelworks (Nová huta) in Ostrava. He gave lectures on the Holocaust in the Czech Republic and Germany and guided people through the concentration camps. He died in June 2019.