Anna Magdalena Schwarzová

* 1921  †︎ 2017

  • “We were in the first transport to Terezín, at the beginning of December 1941. It was the first civilian transport, there had been two work transports before, and we were the first civilian one. Mom and I, and we were there till the very end. Actually, I wasn’t, because I ran away, but mom was in the hospital there and was seriously ill. Father was transported to Auschwitz in October 1944, went to gas chambers immediately.” – “So your mom and you have survived, and what happened to the other family members?” – “Mom had four brothers, one of them died naturally, of a disease, and two were also gassed. One survived, he was the father of Petr Eben.” – “And your brother?” – “My brother was a regular boy, he did poorly in school, and therefore our parents sent him to England to school, even before the mobilization, before the beginning of the war, and he obviously stayed there all the time throughout the war. When he was fifteen he tried to join the army, it was written in his service book, but they turned him down, and only when he was seventeen they asked him where he would like to go in the military, and he chose the air force and he served there till the end. Luckily he didn’t get killed.”

  • “What was funny was that the Revolutionary Guard arrested me in Malá Strana as soon as I got out of the car. I was so happy to be in Prague that I probably wasn’t acting quite normally. I was looking at the rooftops… Everyone would have to experience it. In no way could it be compared with my return from Pardubice in 1960, not at all. I was so happy, and they surrounded me and began saying things like: ´Sure, she’s looking for snipers who’re shooting from the roofs, and pointing targets to them!´ I replied: ´Come on! I’ve just returned from a concentration camp!´ Fortunately I had my identification card which had been given to us before. When they saw it, they began embracing me, telling me that they would take me wherever I wanted… I told them I wanted to walk alone, I didn’t want to go with anybody.”

  • “We were not happy. We returned disillusioned. We didn’t imagine it that way. We expected some rehabilitation, and not a return in this way… Even in 1968 my boss was still reproaching me for my imprisonment – telling me not to be too audacious, not to forget where I had been, etc. Even though it was deleted from our criminal records in 1968, people were still treating us like this.”

  • “Older girls were also urging me to join the communist party, sure, I don’t know why, but none of them succeeded, I have to say. Not in 1938 nor in 1945 – never! The reason was probably that I was a believer. I had firm opinions… I read the Manifesto for instance, and I was appalled when I realized that it was all based on hatred. That they were simply using hatred to promote their ideas.”

  • “The matter with Charter 77… I basically drifted into it. I think I mentioned that I didn’t sign it, instead I used the other way which they approved. I had guarantors, Kriegel, Sekaninová-Čakrtová... No Catholic, only communists. They simply with their signatures that I would cooperate with them, but that I had a reason not to sign it. I had a reason, obedience to my order, they forbade it. My prioress forbade it”

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Krakov, 01.01.2007

    duration: 02:15:42
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

Even in 1968 my boss was still reproaching me for my imprisonment – telling me not to be too audacious, not to forget where I had been

Anna Magdalena Schwarzová
Anna Magdalena Schwarzová
photo: Pamět Národa - Archiv

Anna Magdalena Schwarzová was born March 14, 1921 in a Prague Jewish family which had converted to Catholicism. Already in 1939 she became a postulant of the monastery in Jiřetín. After the beginning of WWII she and her mother were taken to Terezín in one of the first transports. Her brother served in the British Royal Air Force during the war, her father perished in Auschwitz in 1944. At the end of the war she managed to escape from the concentration camp and return to her native Prague. In the first postwar years she studied French and English at the university in Prague. After February 1948 and the purges her study was however terminated. She therefore had to earn her living as a foreign-language secretary in the Juta company and later as a referent in the company Kovo. In 1953 she was arrested and a year later sentenced for anti-state religious activity. She served her eleven-year sentence in the women’s prison in Pardubice. Her imprisonment was interrupted only by the amnesty in 1960. After her release she worked in manual professions, later as an interpreter in Český Krumlov. In 1968 she became a translator at the Agricultural University in Prague, During the normalization era she was actively involved in Charter 77 and VONS. In August 1980 she made her eternal vows in the monastery of the Discalced Carmelites in Krakow. She passed away on January, the 2nd, 2017.