Marta Kottová Don’t Be Afraid of Loudmouths

02.04.2009 | 21:18
Marta Kottová

Don’t Be Afraid of Loudmouths
When you hear the name Marta Kottová, many of you will recall the grey-haired charismatic lady who was awarded the Medal of Merit – Second Grade. She received this from the Czech President for her services in the fi eld of education on October 28, 2008.
Marta was born to Gabriela and Robert Laša, a textile merchant, in Černovice near Tábor on February 24, 1929. She and her six-year older brother Viktor had a happy childhood, which unfortunately did not last long. The arrival and the introduction of their anti-Jewish regime ended Marta’s “fi rst life”, making way for the cruel intermezzo of undesired early maturity. Her brother was deported to Terezín on December 1, 1941, where like the others he became merely a number (303). Half a year later in June 1942, Marta and her parents were transported there too, also becoming just numbers (father 503, mother 504 and Marta 505). How simple to change a human into a number, bereft of all rights, including the right to live.
First she lived in the Terezín ghetto with her mother, later she was moved to a girls’ “heim” L 410, dormitory for girls with similar fates and prison numbers. The journey of the Lašas from Terezín to the unknown ended in September 1944 in the Auschwitz Death Camp. Today, Marta remembers their arrival, standing fi ve abreast, hand in hand with her mother, approaching the “Angel of Death”, Dr. of philosophy and medicine, Josef Mengele. This self-appointed lord of life and death selected those who would live and who went straight to the gas chamber. Marta and Viktor were lucky, their parents were not. At nearly 16, Marta set off on a long journey to freedom, from Auschwitz, via the Gross-Rosen camp to a factory in Mahrensdorf, where she awaited either the end of the war or herself. Fortunately, she managed to start her “second life”. She just missed the Death March and witnessed female S.S. offi cers escaping on bikes from the camp on May 7, 1945, leaving it to its fate. At least that was what Marta thought. The truth was diff erent. Before departing, the warders managed to plant explosives. If it hadn’t been for Russian, French and Belgian prisoners of war from a nearby camp, who knows what would have remained of the several hundreds Czech, 200 Polish and 100 Hungarian females. Freedom gave Marta wings and together with fi ve others she set off for home. As Marta recollects today, the journey did not lack experiences like that when they once asked Soviet soldiers for bread but they gave them a cow, because they had no bread. Also Soviet troops, lost and without a map, attempted to help and take them from Landeshut to Svatoňovice, but actually drove them to the place they had departed from. But fi nally all six safely reached Prague on May 12, 1945. On the way they met Italian partisans, with one Czech among them whom she refers to as ‘Franta from Letná‘. He was proudly bringing from the Italian battlefi elds his spoils of war – a cart and two horses.
In Prague Marta went with the Roubíčkova sisters, who she knew from Mahrensdorf, to their Žižkov home. Fate had prepared a surprise for her – the Roubíček’s door was answered by her brother Viktor. He had escaped, got to Prague and from April until May’s uprising hid at the Roubíček’s. Marta stayed in Prague. She married twice; she has a son Daniel, grandson of the same name, and granddaughter Katka, who has a son Honzík. For the last 12 years Marta has lived in Liberec. She is Vice-chairwoman of the Auschwitz Historic Group; she gives talks at schools and is still full of vitality.

Luděk Sládek

www.pamatnik-terezin.cz


Memorial medal Little Marta Lašová Marta, Černovice, fourth year Marta with her brother and parents Marta before her entry to Terezín (1942) Memorial medals and awards With grandchildren Katka and Dan Great-grandson Honzík


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