Eva Poláková Lišková

03.07.2017 | 03:30
Eva Poláková Lišková

Number 73,304 reminded me of my roots
Eva Poláková was born on 30th June, 1929 in a Jewish family Emil Polák (14. 7. 1895 Jičín – 1945), trader in Luže. Mother Helena, born as Alterová (1901 Luže – June 19, 1971, Luže), helped her husband with his shop and cared for the teenage daughters Eva and Andulka (June 6, 1924 – June 6, 2014) and her mother.

The family was not well off . They lived in a pretty big house, in the center of a quiet East Bohemian small town, where they had a shop with mixed goods on the ground fl oor. Eva remembers that they used to go to Mama‘s sister to Čáslav, Proseč or to her grandfather and grandmother Polák to Jičín. When it comes to childhood, she remembers the town of Luže, where she went to Sokol and played in the amateur ensemble of Karafi átovy Broučky. However, she did not like the elementary school. On the contrary, she had a stomach neurosis that ended when Eva stopped attending school. She started to eat again and she even competed with her dad, who will eat more. She remembers eating 37 plum dumplings once. In the pre-war Luže, there lived a strong Jewish community. There was a rabbi, a synagogue, and at least another ten families. Daddy led a very social life. He was a member of Sokol, a volunteer fi re brigade, had an ambulance, and for some time he was also the mayor of a Jewish community with an offi ce in their home. The family went to the synagogue, celebrated the greater Jewish holidays, but also celebrated Christmas and Easter.
However, with the arrival of the Nazis, everything changed. Eva initially did not perceive the anti-Jewish measures because she had never encountered any form of anti-Semitism ever since. “Until Hitler came, I did not know we were diff erent. I took everything else diff erently. “But my father lost the store.” Her father had previously worked as a reliable driver for a catholic priest, who requested Eva´s father to drive an ambulance. He was not allowed and he was not even allowed to help a friend in a car shop. So, the family lived out of savings, but they were not inexhaustible. Eva and her sister were not allowed to go to school, so when possible, a teacher from nearby town called Skuteč, Mrs Květa Habalová rode her bicycle to Luže to teach Eva. Eva was used to living without a friend, who was becoming more and more a person who was wearing a yellow star and not doing anything quite ordinary for them. Forbidding a curfew after eight o‘clock in the evening, having pets or traveling without permission, all this was just a precursor to what was yet to come.
It was December 2, 1942, and the Polák´s family was given a command to be transported. In the eyes of her parents, she saw fear for the fi rst time. They had to leave everything, and like the rest of the Jews, to give up cars, bikes, radios, musical instruments, counting their shirts, and they all went through their home within the Jewish community. The Jews, however, managed to come together in these diffi cult moments. Eve remembers how they went home and how nice it was when they were all together. Mom‘s sister lived in Čáslav. She had two children, Franz and Milena, with her husband Karel Kraus who worked as a lawyer. But their newly modifi ed house was good for some of the protectorate mocipans. Kraus had to emigrate within a few days, and because they had no place to go, they went to Eva‘s parents to Luže. According to Eva, it was a beautiful nine months when they played with Míla and Franta, and when Uncle Karel even replaced her school. Then someone in Čáslav also took care to keep Kraus away irretrievably. They had to move to Prague, where at that time fi ve Jewish transports were dispatched to the ghetto in Lodž (the Terezín ghetto was not yet “prepared”).
The Litzmannstadt ghetto, Łódź in Polish language, was hauled on April 30, 1940, to 164,000 Polish Jews who stood here on an area of 4 km². In 1941 and 1942, another 38,500 Jews, 20,000 from the Empire and the Protectorate, and the rest of the surrounding towns were deported. Kraus left the third C transport on October 26, 1941 (1,000 people, 63 survived) and a total of 5,000 people who left Prague to 3. 11. 1941, only 272 survived the war. Eva recalls that the Kraus family sent them a postcard with four signatures from Lodž, and thank you for the money.
“So, we knew they were alive. Then the ticket came with only three signatures and my mother said, “Máňa died,” Eva recalls. Eventually no one returned from the Kraus family. Only Věra Štinglová, who survived the ghetto in Lodž, told Eva after the war, that she had met with her cousin Franz Kraus several times in the ghetto. Before leaving to Terezín, she visited the family of Polák from the Jewish community in Prague, and she advised her mother to take the 50 kilograms of the allowed luggage. Eva remembers how her mum was making caramel on the way, which then put into paper cups for the girls. The family packed the most needed stuff , and just before the departure, her parents hid a box of photos in the attic, which Eva did not even know and which mum found after the war. It was a moody day in December 1942. A truck arrived in Luže and took them to school in Pardubice where they stayed for two or three days. Then they took them to the Pardubice railway station, a total of 650 people, and transported by passenger train on December 5, 1942 (transport Cf) to Bohušovice nad Ohří, from where they went on foot to Terezín.
The misconception of the family‘s life in a wider Jewish community deprived of yoke of anti- Jewish measures replaced the everyday reality of the Terezín ghetto. Mother said that my family would stay together and somehow managed to get one small room in a house where six women – aunt, her two cousins, Mrs. Poláková, Eva and her sister Andulka – lived together. Their cousin Ota Scharner, cousin of Věra Munková, who was deported to the ghetto by Ak 24.11.1941, worked in a potato-making plant, and so the family could occasionally attach to a poor prisoner‘s diet. Eva also remembers how Karel Poláček, whom she met there, was going to their house during her stay in the ghetto. My dad was accommodated in the Sudeten barracks, worked in the crematorium, and every day he and his family were seen. What Mum did, Eva did not remember, she did not have to work at her younger age, but she helped the family by going to lunch or cleaning the rooms. Sister Andulka was a voluntary nurse in homes for the ghetto residents. Her work was unusually meritorious, especially when we realized that these were the poor conditions in which these infi rm people lived. Terezín ghetto, it was the lack of daily food, almost non-existent sanitation, rats, fl eas … But Eva´s biggest memory of the Terezín ghetto is that there was a family, even though my father lived elsewhere, we saw each other every day. “For me, family is everything,” she says, “all the tribulations we managed to handle, because the family was together, we supported each other and cared for each other.” Thus, they were living in the Terezín ghetto from December 1942 to December 1943 …
In December 1943, the whole family was deported from Terezín to unknown place where (in the Auschwitz-Březinka-II family camp) was deported by Ds from 18 December 1943. Eva got number 73 304. When they passed the train station Uhersko (about 15 km from Luže), the parents threw a written note written on a piece of paper and addressed to a friend from Luže. The message told they were leaving Terezín to somewhere unknown. It became incredible. Not only did somebody fi nd their message, he or she even delivered it to that friend, and he showed it to Eva‘s mother after the war.
After about a three-day trip with a number of stops, without food, drinking, in the cold, they reached Auschwitz. “As soon as they opened the wagons, they screamed at us. It was just raining, and my dad saw the water leaking from the eaves. So, he went to drink and got a terrible blow to his back … I saw how they beat him, that‘s an unforgettable moment. The roar, the barking of the dogs, the crying of the children, cannot be described. It was the fi rst time in Auschwitz, when I saw how they beat my dad. “From the platform nobody went to the selection, as most of the transports, but they were transported by truck to the family camp Birkenau – Familienlagr, where the Czech Jews from Terezín were gathered. Family camp of Czech Jews in Auschwitz II. – Birkenau was established on 7 September 1943. All of them could keep their belongings, they were not kept and they were taken to section BIIb. However, the note in the personal documents SB (Sonderbehandlung – Special Treatment) spoke clearly.
The Nazis knew it was execution without judgment, which the prisoners did not know. Why this camp arose, it is unclear, the Nazis probably needed it for their perverse propaganda about the good conditions of the Jews in the concentration camps. However, the quarantine was nothing but a cover label – destroy it after six months. In the family camp, although rumour about this fate was spread, but it was hard to believe. Even here, at the local gas chambers, dozens of lives ended daily and fl ames emanating from the crematorium chimney accompanied by the ubiquitous ash drifting with obtrusive scent of charred bodies. Every day, that did not end for Eva and her loved ones´ with death, was a victory. The endless appeals that prisoners had to face, worse than cattle, people became a herd …
Eva´s mommy signed up for work in the kitchen where she was pulling heavy boiling pots and soup, but she was just able to get some extra food for the family. “We came to see our father at latrines or showers,” recalls Eva, who did not work and spent time in a children‘s lodge set up by Fredy Hirsch. “Fredy is an unforgettable fi gure for me who had been able to push the Germans forward. He has great merit on the fact that the so many youngsters survived. He worked with children in Terezín, then continued in Auschwitz. Our block was warmer than the others, we were taught, trained, we painted, which was otherwise strictly forbidden. He was an amazing man. “
After a half-year in Auschwitz-Birkenau, where in March 1944 witnessed the liquidation of the First Family Camp, there was an order that no one expected. The Nazis needed additional labor, so the entire family camp was not destroyed. The smaller working part was sent to the branch labor camps. Andulka, who was on block VI. for young girls, went through the selection and was sent with other girls for the cleansing work to Hamburg. She was then transferred to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp near Bergen, Lower Saxony. Eva and her mother went through a selection just a week later after Andulka. But my dad stayed in the camp and left to the Blechhammer camp in the death march. After the war, Eda Dresler brought a letter to the family written by Eva´s father. It was written before the last days of his life before the death march. He said in the letter that he remembers much about his children.
Eva and her mother went to the extermination concentration camp of Stutthof, in the north of Poland near the city of Gdansk. Because the camp was not completed (the camp had 12 hectares at the end of the war), they had to sleep on the sand in the open air. In the camp there were few women from Bohemia, mostly Hungarians and Lithuanians. That‘s why Eva´s mummy and another lady with her daughter arranged and took two other Czech girls together. The women did not work in the camp, but Eva remembered how they were sleeping on the concrete fl oor when they were fi nished on the camp barracks, and when they wanted to turn around, then each of them had to turn around. From Stutthof, which had at that time 39 branches around, Eva and her mother went to work in the village of Derbeck and then to Guttau camp. They were deployed to trenchwork, when they dug counterattack, three meters deep trenches. But in January there were terrible frosts, and the ground was so hard that the screech was not coming in. But all that remained in the Stutthof camp felt worse. Before the approaching front line, they were brought to the port, loaded onto a ship that sank off the open seas.
The front line approached, and Eva and her mother and others went into the death march. It had been several days and nights, and the last few miles Eva and Tereza Schwarz were literally carrying Eva‘s mother like “ an angel”. For the night they drove them to the barns, and Eva´s mother who was aware of their certain death, said she would not go on the next day. But in the morning, the barn gate opened and one Hungarian told them in Slovak, be calm, the Germans fl ed us. So, many hundreds of women became freed on January 19, 1945. But freedom was very fragile. It was January, frost – 20 ⁰C and in the middle of unknown Poland, without warm clothes, help, food or accommodation. Mother therefore decided that their “Czech” group will separate from other prisoners in an eff ort to increase their chances of survival. Refugees found some food, sour cabbage, potatoes and a few hens on a deserted farmhouse. But what they did not have were matches. Eva remembers, how she and Tereza, as they were the most ambitious, went for fi re to the nearby solitude where it smoked from the chimney. They found the terrifi ed grandmother with her grandson. After a complicated plot, the matches were fi nally won. The group left the farm about a week after because the owners returned. A coincidence of coincidences at that time, the front line and the Soviet soldiers on the sleigh came. They got into the ruined Warsaw with the troops, where Eva´s mummy was helping out for some time in the military kitchen. From Warsaw, as Eva remembers, they literally passed through impoverished Poland to Krakow, but it did not work. Bohemia was still occupied by the Germans. But when they learned that soldiers of the 1st Czechoslovak Army Corps of Poprad for Ammunition arrived in Krakow, they joined them and thus entered the former Czechoslovak territory. The end of the war was met in Poprad. Eva remembers how all the bells were ringing on that day, the sirens were beaming, the people were cheering … Even though the local authorities off ered them a free stay in the Tatras to get healthy, for as long as they wish, the mother refused. She met here with the already mentioned Eda Dresler, who survived Blechhammer, telling that Daddy knew he had survived. Mother decided to go home as quickly as possible. But nothing rode, nor trains, nor buses. That is why they literally traveled by the trucks with the army until they arrived in Vysoké Mýto in the summer of 1945 and from there fi nally to the house in Luže.
But the birthplace was uninhabitable. Their neighbor changed it into a dryer of leather in the war so, there was a terrible smell, the rats fl ew there, and the house collapsed. They had no place to live, they had no food tickets, they had nothing. Mother, who had to take care of herself, but also of her daughter Eva, Tereza Schwarz and Lili Klein, had to get some housing in the municipal offi ce. They were assigned for another house, which belonged to the Jewish Červinka´s family before the war, but who did not return. Because there was a German who had to leave the house during the war, they could move in. Still, they had no news of their father. Sister Andulka was liberated by the British on April 15, 1945, in Bergen Belzen, where the average survival time was about nine months, and where the spotty epidemic of the typhus had erupted several months before the liberation. Andulka was more fortunate than people who did not have the liberation, such as Anna Franková, who died in March, or Josef Čapek, who died in April 1945. Andulka went through quarantine at the former German tank base and then went to Luže. She went through Vysoké Mýto, where she attended the grammar school before the war and borrowed the bicycle from her friends and then she came to Luže. Eva could not recognize her. She has changed so much. Like Eva´s Mum, Andulka also survived the typhus. A little later, however, the bad news arrived. Father‘s friend from the Blechhammer camp told them that Eva´s father had probably died on the death march. Only his handwritten message remained after him on a piece of paper in which he had missed his children. Yet it was a miracle! Three members out of the four-member family managed to survive.
After the war, Eva married at nineteen, had two children, daughter Helena and son Jiří. But she broke up with her husband shortly. Her second husband, Svatopluk Liška, she married to him in 1969 and moved to Losina near Pilsen, where her daughter Kamila was born. Eva now has fi ve grandchildren, nine great-grandchildren and says her memories of wartime tribulations to students in colleges because she works with Doctor Vojtěch Kyncl on his lectures. She is still bravely returning to the places she went through during her youth.

Footnotes
Photos of cousin Helena Poláková from Jičín (daughter of her father‘s brother) were found by Eva after the war in Auschwitz, where she was with some about four girls who came from Terezín to a family camp and were gasified.
The other members of quite a large family ended up in Terezín, only one mother‘s brother was fortunate to have survived the war in England. The second brother, Karel, died in an extermination camp outside of Terezín. The grandfather Hynek Polák, who lived in Jičín before the war and survived Terezín, returned. His three sons did not return. He lived in a Jewish old people´s home in Poděbrady and died at the age of 96. Also, cousin Věra Poláková (mother of Jan Munk, former director of the Terezín Memorial), returned.

www.pamatnik-terezin.cz
www.facebook.com/TerezinMemorial


Polák´s house in Luže, grandparents in the middle, family Kraus,
parents of Eva, sister Andulka, cousins – Eva was not born yet Grandma´s birthday – Eva with her sister Andulka, grandchildren
Kraus and others in the family who survived in England or Israel In front of her father´s shop, grandfather, grandmother, parents and
sister Andulka


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