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USC Shoah Foundation Visual History Archive: Czech Republic

Established in 1994 to preserve the audio-visual histories of survivors and other witnesses of the Holocaust, the USC Shoah Foundation maintains one of the largest video digital libraries in the world: the Visual History Archive (VHA).

Czech Republic

What is today the Czech Republic was, before 1938, part of Czechoslovakia - specifically the provinces Bohemia and Moravia & Silesia (including the Sudetenland region). The majority of the testimonies from here relate to the major cities, particularly the capital Prague. Czech Jews were first subject to the malevolence of Nazi rule even before the outbreak of World War II. After  March 1939 invasion by Germany, laws restricting Jews that were already in force increased in their severity and attacks on and seizures of Jewish property became commonplace.

Deportations soon began. As early as October 1939, an experimental deportation plan moved a group of Moravian Jews to an area of Poland (the so-called "Nisko and Lublin plan"); four survivors in the archive recount their experiences of this. In 1941, others were deported to the ghettos in the east: 30 survivors interviewed in the archive were deported from Czechoslovakia to the Lódz ghetto, eight were sent (via Theresienstadt) to the Riga ghetto, two to the Minsk ghetto. Some managed to avoid deportation at least temporarily, while a number managed to emigrate before that option was curtailed in October 1941.

Beginning in 1942, most remaining Jews were sent to the Theresienstadt "model ghetto" (discussed by 2,193 interviewees in total, 704 of whom were born in Czechoslovakia). From Theresienstadt, most Czech Jews were moved to Auschwitz. The archive also contains references to numerous labor camps established by the Nazis in Bohemia, Sudetenland, and Silesia, as well as camps set up in Moravia specifically for Hungarian Jews after 1944. A few testimonies in Czech refer to the Panenské Brezany (Jungfern Breschan) camp, the private camp of Frau Heydrich, wife of Reinhard Heydrich (the SS chief and "Protector" of Bohemia and Moravia). A small number of Jews in mixed marriages avoided deportation until early 1945. Others discuss the mixed-marriage camps such as Prague Hagibor and Lípa (Böhmisch-Leipa).

After liberation in 1945, Prague became a focal point for refugees. Of those who survived, many Czech Jews chose to emigrate. Nevertheless, around half of the 999 interviews with people born in the Czech lands were conducted in the Czech Republic. Those who did remain recount their experiences under Communist rule, including reminiscences of the Prague Spring of 1968.

The testimony of Hanus Münz (interview code 6804, Czech) is an extremely rare example of a Czech survivor of Malyi Trostenets. Richard Glazar (interview code 8552, German) is one of only two survivors from the Czech lands of the Treblinka II death camp. Kurt Thomas (interview code 28104, English), who also gave an interview to the Shoah Foundation, is a Czech survivor of the Sobibór death camp. The testimony of Viktor Las (interview code 6809, Czech) is remarkable for his description of performing cleanup work after the notorious German massacre of the village of Lidice.

The USC Shoah Foundation conducted 567 interviews in the Czech Republic and 566 in the Czech language. Around 1,000 of the archive's interviewees were born in what is today the Czech Republic.

See also: CzechoslovakiaGermany

 

Selected Indexing Terms

"Aktion Albrecht 1" (September 1, 1939)

"Der Führer schenkt den Juden eine Stadt"

"Freizeitgestaltung"

"Munich Crisis" (March-September 1938)

Bar Kochba Student Association (Prague)

Benes, Edvard

Benesová, Hana

Birkenau boys

Brünnlitz (Czechoslovakia : Concentration Camp)

Czech and Slovak Legion

Czech resistance fighters

Czech resistance groups

Czechoslovakian units

deportation from Prague (Czechoslovakia)

Deutsche Partei

Edelstein, Jacob

Fritta, Bedrich

German annexation of Bohemia and Moravia (March 15, 1939)

German annexation of Sudetenland (October 1, 1938)

ghetto crematoria (Theresienstadt)

ghetto intake procedures (Theresienstadt)

ghetto latrines (Theresienstadt)

Jungfern Breschan (Czechoslovakia : Concentration Camp)

Krása , Hans

Lanik, Josef

Lidice (Czechoslovakia)

Masaryk, Tomas

Musy Transport

Narodni hnuti pracujici mladeze

Pankratz (Prague, Czechoslovakia: Prison)

Petschek Palace (Prague, Czechoslovakia : Prison)

Polish annexation of the Teschen region (October 1938)

Prag-Ha-Gibbor (Czechoslovakia : Concentration Camp)

PRAGUE 2 Nove Mesto-Karlovo namesti (Czechoslovakia : Prison)

Prague Uprising (May 5-9, 1945)

Rosin, Arnost

Schaechter , Rafael

Seidl, Siegfried

Sokol

Sudetendeutsche Partei

Svoboda, Ludvik

Teḥelet-Lavan

Theresienstadt (Czechoslovakia : Ghetto)

Theresienstadt Familienlager

Theresienstadt ghetto beautification

Theresienstadt-Small Fortress (Czechoslovakia : Prison)

Vlajka

Vrba, Rudolf

Wachholz Trial (East Germany)

Zenkl, Petr

Zuckor, Otto

Selected Bibliography

Adler, H.G.. Theresienstadt 1941-1945. Das Antlitz eier Zwangsgemeinschaft, Göttingen: Wallstein Verlag, 2005.

Bondy, Ruth. "Elder of the Jews": Jakob Edelstein of Theresienstadt, New York: Grove Press, 1989.

Dagan, Avigor (ed.). The Jews of Czechoslovakia: Historical Studies and Surveys, Vol. 3, Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America; New York: Society for the History of Czechoslovak Jews, 1984.

Kárný, Miroslav. "Konecné řešení": Genocida českých židů v německé protektorátní politice, Prague: Academia, 1991.

Krejcová, Helena; Svobodová, Jana; and Hyndráková, Anna (eds.). Židé v Protektorátu: Hlášení židovské naboženské obce v roce 1942. Dokumenty, Prague: Ústav pro soudobé dějiny, 1997.

Rothkirchen, Livia. The Jews of Bohemia and Moravia: Facing the Holocaust, Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2005.

 

Visual History Archive Curator

Crispin Brooks's picture
Crispin Brooks
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DML 232, 213-740-5463
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