Jana Urbanová

* 1937

  • “When the Sudetes were annexed, although that included Osek, my father was apparently decided not to leave, because he thought it wasn’t necessary, that he had his clients there and he hadn’t done anything to anyone. People started leaving. There were two stations in Osek, and the upper station was managed by a man called Mourek, who was friends with our family. Apparently, this stationmaster Mourek came to us, saying that my father and our whole family should leave, that there’s a danger that Jewish families will start being persecuted, and that the last train is leaving the lower station in a few hours. So my father accepted that, and he took me and my mother and boarded that train, leaving practically everything behind.”

  • “We were visited by a protestant priest named Přemysl Pitter, together with his wife Mrs Fierzová. He was a close friend of Dad, and he helped us throughout the whole time there with their visits. They weren’t afraid to visit us on Havlíček Street. One thing was that they’d bring us a packet of food, or Mrs Fierzová would make me a small doll out of rags, and I even got a little suitcase with clothes for the doll. I took it with me to Terezín. I loved it so much, plus it was very small, made of rags, and light. Unfortunately, I didn’t bring it back with me from Terezín. Those were brave people, who risked a lot, but helped all the same. I met with Přemysl Pitter again later on, mainly because after the war, when Terezín was closed up and there was the big epidemic there, Přemysl Pitter managed to get the children out. I was also in the children’s transport organised by Přemysl Pitter, and I spent some time in his sanatorium, those were three country houses, and I was at Štiřín.”

  • “It was very intense, to rehearse it quickly enough. Some technicians came from Prague, they claimed they were from the National Theatre, but I’m not sure about that, and they prepared the stage, built the sets, made our costumes. The committee really did arrive. We played the first performance just for the camp leaders. I only remember that because the auditorium was all dark with just a few cigarettes glowing in it. They smoked while watching us. Such a strange memory. Then, when we played it for the committee, the Ältestenrat came for us, he was called Murmelstein, and he took me and the girl Květuška, that is [the actors of] Ladybird and Firefly, by the hand, and he led us to the committee, there was someone else there as well, so they stroked our hair, said ‘schön, schön’, and led us away again. But we also performed it for the prisoners. We played it three or four times, I’m not sure now.”

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    Praha, 08.06.2015

    duration: 03:06:54
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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Performing in Fireflies had a lifelong impact on me

Urbanova portret orez.jpg (historic)
Jana Urbanová
photo: dobová archiv pamětnice, současná A. Jelínková

Jana Urbanová, née Klačerová, was born on 10 November 1937 in Teplice into a mixed Czech-Jewish family. Her father MUDr. Josef Klačer (1904-1973) came from a Jewish family and had a doctor’s practice in Osek near Duchcov, where the family lived. When the Sudetes were annexed, the family left Osek and moved to Mníšek pod Brdy in autumn 1938, where her father continued his practice. Some two years later he was briefly arrested, and the whole family was forced to move to Prague. Her father started working in the Treuhandstelle department of the Jewish Community, before taking up employment at the Jewish hospital in Lublaňská Street, where he worked as a doctor. In November 1944 Josef Klačer and his seven-year-old daughter received a summons to a transport to Terezín; they left Prague on 11 February 1945. Fearing deportation, the witness’s mother and younger brother Ivan (1939) hid outside of Prague until the end of the war. In the Terezín ghetto young Jana starred in the role of Beruška (Ladybird) in the children’s play Broučci (Fireflies; according to the famous Czech book by Jan Karafiát), which was performed in Terezín during the propaganda-controlled visit of representatives of the Red Cross. Terezín was liberated in May 1945, but Josef Klačer stayed in the ghetto for several more months to help with the typhus epidemic. His daughter Jana was sent for a brief stay in Štiřín, where Přemysl Pitter established a sanatorium for children from concentration camps. In summer 1945 the Klačer family returned to Osek, where Josef Klačer worked as a doctor; he also took an active part in the local culture scene, he led Osek’s amateur theatre group for many years. Jana Urbanová graduated from the Faculty of Education in Pilsen and worked as a teacher. She later completed a correspondence course in directing at the Theatre Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, she was employed at the Regional Cultural Centre in Ústí nad Labem and later at the theatre in Teplice. In her free time she devoted herself to theatre, which is her lifelong hobby. She lives in Krupka near Teplice, where she still leads the local amateur theatre group.