Eva Slezáková

* 1934

  • “The revolution took place in May and Germans came here and this is what they did. There were mostly women in the houses, because the men whom the Germans came to arrest were on the barricade which was built in front of the house. Three adjacent houses had their cellars connected so that you could pass from one house to the other. We were hiding down there in the shelter and Germans came there and requested keys from each flat. We thus gave them the keys from our flat; it was on May 8, 1945. They were probably looking for food. One German took off his helmet and looked out of the window. Another German, who was down on the street, thought that he was a Czech, and he fired at him. They brought the wounded German down to the shelter, alleging that somebody had shot him, and we had to pass to the neighbouring shelter – Hände hoch – and we didn’t know what was happening or what would happen to us. Only my aunt who was there with us, and who worked as an editor, could speak a foreign language. She thus explained to that officer that there were only women there and that we could not have shot the man, and she kept persuading him for so long that they eventually allowed us to return to our shelter. They carried the German down on a stretcher and they treated him there, it was quite horrible. Later they returned our keys to us and they were joking that the red building on the town square, the town hall, was on fire! They set several houses in row on fire, they used flamethrowers, and we got out of the shelter, it was on May 8th in the evening, and really, at least five of the houses were in flames. Mom began packing the most important things into a small suitcase in case we would have to leave, because we didn’t know whether the sparks would get from there to our house or not, whether we would be able to stay there or not. We endured, and on May 9th we were looking out of the window…. now coming back to the apartment: they only kicked open the door, pulled out the telephone line and destroyed the radio, that was all. And they were looking for food, if they found some, they took it with them.”

  • “We were allowed to come to visit him, but it was once a month, or once in three months, as they pleased. We would arrive in Horní Bříza, it was terribly cold there, it was freezing terribly, there was nothing at all. We would walk from the train station on the road which led somewhere to the forest, there was no shelter, nothing, only snowdrifts, and we would be walking there with my mom all the morning – not just us, there were more of us who arrived to visit prisoners – and we had no place to warm ourselves or to stop for a while. The prisoners were coming from work at one o’clock and only then we were allowed to talk to them. We were not allowed to give them anything, nothing at all. No bread, food, nothing…”

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    Praha, byt pamětnice, 17.06.2014

    duration: 02:20:05
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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I do not matter at all, what is important is the story of my father

Eva Slezáková
Eva Slezáková
photo: Foto Karel Kužel

  Eva Slezáková was born June 20, 1934 in Prague. Her father Josef Slezák, who was the director of the Čedok travel company at that time, was arrested by the Gestapo on September 1, 1939. He was interned in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, then in the labour camp in Wewelsburg near Paderborn and at the end of the war in Ravensbrück. He left from there in a death march in spring 1945 and after an arduous journey he returned to Prague on May 31, 1945. He began working in the Čedok company again as the general manager, later he became the deputy director. In March 1948 the action committee of the National Front ousted him from his post and transferred him to a relatively unimportant job at the ministry of transport. In November 1949 Josef Slezák was arrested by the StB Secret Police and in February 1950 he was sentenced to seven years of imprisonment for alleged political activity. In September 1954 he was released in amnesty. The family lost their apartment in 1952 and Eva Slezáková and her mother were evicted from Prague, but several years later the family at least managed to obtain a housekeeper’s flat in Prague. After his return from prison, Josef Slezák worked in various manual jobs. He died on April 8, 1966. Eva Slezáková graduated from secondary school in summer 1952 and she found employment. Since the 1960s she was working in the Czech Radio choir and at the same time she was doing a housekeeper’s job. The real cause for Josef Slezák’s arrest and imprisonment in the Nazi and communist labour camps is unknown. His arrest by the Gestapo and his subsequent internment might have been related to Nicholas Winton’s transports for saving Czechoslovak Jewish children, because the travel company Čedok was one of those with which Winton cooperated.