Dov Strauss

* 1924  

  • “We departed at the October. We sat in the train in complete darkness. I remember that I had often taken that route - from Benešov to Jihlava or to Prague. It was night time, midnight, and we reached Berlin before dawn. We switched to a train that took us all the way to Warnemünde by the Baltic Sea. Then we got on a Danish ship, and it was utterly amazing how the Danes behaved to us and how nice they were.”

  • “I ended up a kilometre away from my friend. We arrived in the evening, we didn’t know anyone, but when we came to where my friend lived, we carried on further to the estate of the Danish family of Poulsens. They were already waiting for us by the porch, happy to welcome us. That was something wonderful, to suddenly see people who are looking forward to you, who care. We sat down and had supper, then Mrs Poulsen came to me with a piece of paper and said: ‘Mom, mom,’ so I’d understand what she meant. Mom means mum in Danish. That I should write home to my mum that I’m safe, that we had arrived.”

  • “The Germans wanted to have less and less to do with the Jews. I remember 15 March 1939. It was a Sunday, Mum woke up in the morning and wondered: ‘Why are they shouting “Pull the flags out!” outside?’ I looked out of the window and saw a German flag on the church behind our house. That was the start of that terrible period. My parents immediately withdrew me from school - before I’d be expelled - and suddenly it was a big problem to be a Jew.”

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    Haifa, Izrael, 15.12.2016

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    duration: 01:25:49
    media recorded in project Stories of the 20th Century TV
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Strangers welcomed us so warmly

Dov Strauss March 1939
Dov Strauss March 1939
photo: archiv pamětníka

Dov, née Oskar, Strauss was born on 25 March 1924 into a Jewish family in Benešov nad Ploučnicí. In 1934 the family moved to Jihlava. Growing antisemitic tendencies persuaded the parents to send their only son to Palestine with a group of young Zionists. He participated in a preparatory Hachshara course in Brno in April 1939; in August 1939 he was chosen to go to Denmark, where he travelled together with about 50 young Jews from Czechoslovakia in late October 1939. He spent a year in Denmark on a farm with the Poulsen family near Thisted. In October 1940 he continued to Palestine with a group of Zionists. He settled down in the kibbutz of Geva. In 1945 he got married; he and his wife moved to a farm in Jokneam in Jordan Valley in 1952. They raised three children, who still help them tend to the family farm in Jokneam. The story of Dov Strauss and other Czech Jews who found shelter from the war in Denmark was recorded and published in 2013 by journalist Judita Matyášová in her book Přátelství navzdory Hitlerovi (Friendship in Spite of Hitler).