Ing. Alexandra Slačálková, roz. Gutinová

* 1922  †︎ unknown

  • “We couldn’t go by train, so we took a taxi and before the border, the taxi driver didn’t want to go any further, so we hired a wagon, which was supposed to take us to the river Bug and there, somebody from the village was supposed to take us over the border. When we got to the village at night, the farmer with the wagon refused to go into the village, so we had to get off and walk to the house we wanted. We were in a small wood and suddenly the Germans appeared and they saw my father, his friend and my sister. They didn’t see me any my mother. My mother thought that we would never see them again but there was nothing we could do. We went on and we saw a light in one of the windows and it turned out that it were the farmers who were supposed to take us over the border. So we stayed there and I went to sleep and in the morning my father with the friend and my sister came. The Germans had let them go.”

  • “In Semipalatinsk we found out that there was a university evacuated from Leningrad, which was under a blockade at the time, the Germans besieged it. Before the blockade, they evacuated universities, because it must be said about the Russians that they wanted the people to study, to have enough professionals after the war. They didn’t want to let me from the accounting position because they needed me, but a new law was passed that everybody who enters the university has to be released from a job. So they had to release me. So I got to the university and there were lecturers from Leningrad, so I appeared in a completely different community. The conditions were tough, because we didn’t have any fuel to burn. We lived in Semipalatinsk and we had to cross the Irtisha river. We would take a train, which was not going very often, or we walked. In summer, when the river was not frozen, we sailed to the other bank on some kind of primitive boats and then, when the river froze, we crossed it on foot. When I came to the school I was so happy that I could study, but there was nothing to write on, so we wrote on old newspapers, because there was no normal paper. And I was so happy because I managed to obtain one of Lenin’s books with a very fine paper, so I wrote my notes into Lenins’s books.”

  • “When the war began, my father said: ‘The Germans will surely come to us and that will be the end, because we are Jewish.’ He knew what was about to happen, he foresaw it, nobody could really expect the atrocities that finally took place. Father gathered us in the kitchen and said: ‘Look, they will be here in a few days, because they are strong and the Polish army can never defend against them. So we will avoid it. We will put the gas on and that will be it.’ I started screaming that I wanted to live, that I hadn’t had much of living before.”

  • “Me and my sister, we went to a course for tractor drivers. We were very good in the theoretical courses. And then, it was in winter, my father had had a job at the beginning, but then he lost it and he became depressed and then once when we had a a lecture, they called us home. My father committed suicide and he did it when we were away in the school and mother went to wait in a line for bread. Nobody was at home. We couldn’t save him, it was horrible. My mother later told me that she didn’t want to cry in front of me.”

  • “My father was not in any political party and he refused to vote, but he said that it was good in the Soviet Union, that communism was better, even though we were receiving letters where our aunt wrote that uncle was ‘too tired and he had to take a rest’, which actually meant that he was resting in prison. But in general we didn’t have a bad attitude towards the Soviet Union. We thought that compared to Poland, the communist are not anti-Semite, which also was not entirely true. We didn’t know that, but then when the trials in Moscow came, it was a shock for my father. But there was Hitler at the other side and for us, when we could choose, to go east was the best we could do instead of staying at home.”

  • “We went to the train station and wanted to go to Kharkov, because I knew that my parents and my sister escaped to Kharkov. So I wanted to go there. It was a freight train and there was Kharkov written on the wagons. And because everybody wanted to go to Kharkov they made a trick that the trains were not going to Kharkov. I lost my friend and later I found out that she got there. I was on th train and then somebody said: ‘Look the Sea of Azov.’ And I knew that we passed over Kharkov. I didnt have anything with me, I only had a dress and I broke the belt from the dress and I started to cry and wiped my face and I was dirty and black because it was a train to carry coal. We came to Stalingrad. There we were gathered at a stadium. That was called ‘evakopunkt’ and they put there all the people that came with the trains. And then they sent us to various towns and villages around Stalingrad. I was trying to get to Kharkov somehow, but they told me it was already forbidden.”

  • “One half of Poland was occupied by the Soviet Union which had a deal with Germany, which was not any advantage for the Polish , but for us it was salvation, because we got to the other side and even though life wasn’t easy there, at least they didn’t kill people. My father said that it would be best if we managed to get to his family in Kharkov. A committee came from the Soviet Union to exchange people, mainly Russians and Ukrainians for Germans in the USSR. Those people could then leave and my father also applied because he was born in Ukraine. But they didn’t care because he was Jewish.”

  • “They were recruiting workers to engineering industry at Ural. So the whole family applied. And again we went by freight trains. We went through Cheljabinsk and Sverdlovsk to Nizhny Tagil and there we lived in the factory rooming house. It was a factory for iron wagons, but at that time, they were producing weapons and tanks for the army. We lived three families in a big room.”

  • “My parents decided to cross the green border. I remember that all the friends and relatives in Warsaw said: ‘It is an enormous risk. If you stay here, you will keep at least something, but if you leave you will lose completely everything.’ After the war, none of those who warned us this way survived.”

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    Praha, 01.09.2005

    duration: 01:13:16
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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Every now I then I was called for from the NKVD. The life in Russia was not easy, but for us it was much better than German Nazism

po valce
po valce
photo: archiv pamětnice

Alexandra Slačálková was born in Łódź into a Polish Jewish family on 1st September 1922. Her mother tongue is Polish, Alexandra and her sister Geňa were raised in Polish language and culture. Her family lead a life that resembled more to the life of the polish middle classes then to the life of the Jewish orthodox communities. Her father was an accountant and her mother was a dentist, who stayed at home after the children were born. Her parents were interested in international politics, they listened to German radios and they knew that as Jews they were in danger and they also discussed the matter with their friends. The only refuge seemed to be the Soviet Union because it didn’t prosecute people on the basis of their Jewish origin. After the beginning of the war. Łódź was renamed to Litzmannstadt and it became a part of the Third Reich. Shortly after, the Gutin family decided to move to Warsaw to their friends. Life in Warsaw was a stopgap measure because they knew that soon they would be in danger again. In January 1940 a Russian repatriation committee came to Warsaw to exchange Russian and Ukrainian citizens living for Germans living in the Soviet Union. Her father saw it as an opportunity to get to Kharkiv to his family. He had been born in Ukraine. So he contacted the committee. But his application was not confirmed. He decided to get to the family in Ukraine anyway. The family finally managed to get to the Soviet union under adventurous circumstances, when it escaped deeper and deeper to the Soviet land before the moving frontline. They spent the whole war in the Soviet Union (her father died before its end).