Frideta Seidlová

* 1931  

  • “We had to get up before sunrise and hurry to the cart. We rode the whole day until nightfall. Someone in the village we reached let us sleep over in the straw, and the next day we continued. It wasn’t just the three of us, but also Mum’s sister with a little baby and her husband, and my father’s brother. They all gathered up at our place when the war began, so that we’d be together. And so we all travelled in that one cart across the whole of Poland right to the borders.”

  • “Altogether there were about 300 people in the camp, and almost all of them were in families. We had two, three different sized houses at our disposal. The way it was, we slept in the big house and we slept in two rows facing each other. We each had a plank for ourself, and Dad made sure we had enough space, and we had the cot in the middle, and he made a table. He never did carpentry at home, but there he did all sorts of things because he was the type of person who doesn’t shun any technically-minded work. And with food it was thus. We occasionally got some baked goods from the shop, sometimes a bit of sugar, but never any milk or milk products, meat was very rare, we had it about twice. They had salted fish, but you couldn’t desalt them. And no fat. When we lived in the village, we could take some of the clothes we had with us and exchange it for a kilo of lard. So we rendered the lard and the cracklings were good. So not enough fat and no proteins the whole year.”

  • “I remember that. When I met some girl and asked her if she wanted to play with me, the first thing she asked me was whether I was a ‘Dshew’, or a ‘Casolic’. She couldn’t even pronounce words properly, but she already knew that she wasn’t supposed to play with little Jews.”

  • “The soldiers came to us in the night. They were two very decent, uniformed young men. They told us very politely that we should pack our things and come with them. They asked us where the men were, we said serving in night jobs. So they sent us to inform them where we’d be waiting for them, so that they could join us after work. That was good news. So the grown-ups set straight off to say the men should join us - that meant my father and the husband from my aunt, who had a baby.”

  • “One shouldn’t die, shouldn’t give up, one should fight. If he wanted to die, he should’ve fought first. That’s the way I saw it. And even today when they celebrate him and I hear them say he sacrificed himself, I think to myself, why? We still had the normalisation, everything still happened the way it did. I know he was a hero, but he wasn’t the only one. There was one more after him, but he’s not talked about. There were other such people abroad. When it comes it, nowadays it’s a rather common method of protest in the Orient, to burn yourself alive. It’s also connected with giving life a low value.”

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    Praha Hagibor, 24.02.2014

    duration: 01:06:51
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th Century TV
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You shouldn’t give up, you should fight

Frideta Seidlová was born in January 1931 in Kraków, Poland. Her parents were Czechoslovak Jews. Her father was a trader with printing inks, her mother helped him with the business. Her parents were taking careful note of the political events in Europe, and thus when the German Nazi army attacked Poland, they decided to escape. After journeying on foot for a month they reached the Polish-Soviet border. When the Soviet Union annexed a part of Poland, they became fugitives on Soviet territory. They moved onward to Lviv. However, there they were arrested by soldiers and sent by train to Siberia. They ended up in a labour camp, but luckily the family remained together. Probably in summer 1941 they were released from captivity, and they set off over the Urals to Tashkent in Uzbekistan. They family ended their years-long journey in Czechoslovakia. They settled there, after the war Frideta Seidlová studied botany and worked at the Institute of Experimental Botany of the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences in Prague. The main focus of her extensive scientific work lies in plant morphogenesis.