Hana Trávová

* 1925  †︎ 2021

  • “Fredy Hirsch, who was in charge of Jugendfürsorge, or care for the youth, found me there. They knew beforehand who was to arrive, the name lists always arrived to Terezín earlier, and the self-administrating authority was thus looking for people which they needed, either because of their professions or because they were some family members and they wanted to find them a place where they would get some more bread. While Fredy Hirsch was in Terezín, I was doing the same work which we had started in Hagibor before the deportations. That was a great thing for the children, but also for us, who were working with them. There was not much we could do, but at least it was some continuation of normal life in these few hours we could devote to the children. Children ten years and older already had work duties, mostly garden work, in order to be able to be outside in pure air. Vegetables were grown in the moat and on the ramparts Thus, they could at least be outside and filch something, like a carrot to eat. We tried to make them eat it outside and not take it inside because there was a death penalty for it.”

  • “At that time, the incoming transports were taken directly to so-called casemates. There are underground passages in Terezín and inside the ramparts there are so-called casemates around the fortress, dark rooms without windows. There was straw on the floor, and a thousand people gathered there, and if I remember correctly, we were to stay there for three days and then the entire transport was to continue to the east. Transports to Poland began at that time, it was still before Auschwitz. However, scarlet fever broke out in this thousand-person transport. It had probably started already in the assembly place and I got scarlet fever as well, together with many other children. There was a risk of an epidemic, and the authorities thus canceled the subsequent transport to the east. Germans, they are orderly people, were afraid of the epidemic spreading among civilians. The transport thus remained in Terezín and I was taken straight to the infection barracks where I stayed for six weeks. That’s the way they treated scarlet fever at that time.”

  • “I have survived. I can’t say that I was happy. I think that nearly all of us, who have survived alone, have been reproaching ourselves for it throughout our entire lives. Literature has been written about this. I have come to believe that if times come in one’s life, when it is an either-or situation, then a family should stay together, either live together or die together. I arrived at this conclusion because after the war one remained in this situation absolutely uprooted, there was nothing to hold onto. There was no family, nobody, no grandmothers, uncles, aunts, cousins, parents, no little brother. There was not even a place one could return to. For me, therefore, the most traumatizing time was parting with my father, mother, grandma, and so on, but also the time when one lived and did not know why.”

  • “I have been an athlete since I was a child and I remember that in the Dresden barracks, in the yard where soccer was being played, we would do our exercise there. Even in a situation when one was glad to be alive and didn’t have much energy to spare, there were enthusiasts for certain things. Mr. Utitz was taking care of the library and the musicians had to play music, and thus encourage others, we would be exercising with them like crazy. It has been proven that these are things which keep one sane, but obviously we didn’t know that at that time. The illusion of normality in abnormal circumstances.”

  • “Chaos prevailed. In autumn 1944 the Germans already knew the war was drawing to an end, and they wanted to destroy everything they could. These transports were part of the effort to liquidate Terezín. The Ältestenrat, the council of elders, who were putting together the transport lists, tried to keep families together, if possible, unless there was an explicit command to the contrary. I don’t know why it happened. We suppose that those able to work were being left in Terezín, so that they could then work on its destruction. The reason was that there was also a plan for the construction of gas chambers in Terezín, and this was now done in order to erase all traces.”

  • “Certain Fredy Hirsch then came with the idea to lead a course for sports teachers. He had to be really crazy – to organize a course for P. T. teachers in 1940, during the war. I enthusiastically applied and my mom supported my decision. That’s where my future life was born. The course was very good, as I could judge later in the course of my subsequent studies. Rather than theory we learned many practical fundamentals of various sports activities and dance styles and movements. Hagibor was the only place where Jewish children were allowed to go to – with the exception of cemeteries – and since I was fifteen or sixteen, I spent every day there. I would get a team of kids and I had to come up with some sports activity for them. Friendships lasting till now have been born there. These courses were like a bright light in the period before the transports, when Jewish children were allowed to live like children.”

  • “They asked everyone what work they could do and my mom has been applying for everything from the beginning, whenever some work was needed. Before she became a nurse in the typhoid ward, she had accepted any kind of work which would make life a bit easier. For instance, she was breaking mica. There was a production hall, it was called Glimmer, and it was war production of mica for engines or aviation instruments. People who worked there were thus protecting their families, who would not be sent into a transport. But this was true only till autumn 1944, when all rules became void. I don’t even know where my daddy worked. Daddy was gaunt, he was a heavy smoker, addicted to cigarettes, and even under these circumstances – and we reproached him for that, not verbally, but it troubled us a lot – he would exchange his bread for cigarettes.”

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    V bydlišti pamětníka - Praha 3, 15.12.2010

    duration: 02:08:25
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
  • 2

    Praha, 19.10.2015

    duration: 01:27:56
    media recorded in project The Stories of Our Neigbours
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

A family should stay together - either live together or die together

Hana Trávová
Hana Trávová
photo: dobová archiv pamětnice, současná foto A. Jelínková

  Hana Trávová, née Zentnerová, was born September 10, 1925 in Bor u Tachova in a Jewish family. Czech language was spoken at home. In the early 1930s the whole family moved to Prague when her father changed jobs. Hana was a talented athlete since her early childhood, she attended Sokol trainings and she played handball. After the expulsion of Jewish children from schools, she took a retraining course for kindergarten teachers organized by the Jewish community in Prague and she also attended courses for teachers of physical training and sports. From 1940 onwards she was working with Fredy Hirsch on a sports program for Jewish children in Hagibor in Prague. In November 1942 she was deported to the Terezín ghetto with her parents and her younger brother. Hana continued with her sports activities in Terezín under the department for youth and she took part in cultural events which were organized in the ghetto. In September 1944 their father was transported to Auschwitz, and her mother and younger brother followed him on October 28, 1944. Hana remained in Terezín until the liberation of the ghetto. Nor her parents nor her brother have returned from Auschwitz. After the liberation Hana returned to Prague, she completed her secondary education and later she graduated from physical education at the Pedagogical Faculty and from history at the Philosophical Faculty of Charles University. She worked as a sports teacher at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague and also as a tour guide. Mrs. Hana Trávová has three daughters and several grandchildren. She lived in Prague and she was a member of the Terezín Initiative. Hana Trávová passed away on April, the 23rd, 2021