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PhDr. Dagmar Lieblová (1929 - 2018) - Biography


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"Those who were in charge of us in Terezín managed not only to educate us, but also to make us ready for life, if we survived."

Dagmar Lieblová was born in Kutná Hora, where her father Julius Fantl, a Jewish doctor and Czech patriot, moved after WWI. He bought a house there where he opened his practice. Although the Jewish heritage was present in the family identity, it no longer had its religious significance for the Fantl family. Julius with his wife Irena and their daughters Dagmar and Rita had to bid good-bye to Kutná Hora on June 5th, 1942. At that time, the entire Jewish community of Kutná Hora, which was still quite new, was leaving in several transports. As a response to Heydrich's assassination, within a few days, the Jewish communities from nearby towns of Čáslav and Kolín disappeared as well. Two trains of this mass transport went without stopping, all the way to the extermination camps in the east. Out of all the Jews from Kutná Hora, who did not make the stop in the ghetto, not a single person returned home.

The Fantl family stayed in the crowded ghetto with insufficient food until December 1943, when a second large eastbound transport from Terezín was dispatched. This transport arrived at Auschwitz-Birkenau ten days before Christmas. The people were victims of deception like the German Jews who had been transported to Terezín by the Nazis: "They told these Jews that in exchange for their property they would grant them a stay in the Terezín spa for life. So they arrived there, prepared as if they were going to a spa resort, and they accommodated them in these terrible damp and dark barracks."

In Auschwitz, her father, mother and sister Rita all died. Due to their age, they were not able to pass the selection, which was intended for people who were potentially capable of doing hard labor. Dagmar, who by a mere administrative mistake was made four years older, left Auschwitz in summer 1944. She and her friend Dáša were then sent for strenuous clearing work in Hamburg. From then on everything was measured against the conditions in Birkenau, “It’s true that in Hamburg, food was equally scarce as in Auschwitz, but to be away from there meant that there was a small hope that we might be able to survive after all."

In winter and spring 1945, thousands of prisoners from concentration camps all over Germany were marching to regions which were not yet conquered by the Allies. Dagmar Lieblová and her friend of the same age were able to leave Hamburg, which became a bombed-out city, to Bergen-Belsen, where prisoners were left nearly without food and water among heaps of corpses. The camp was liberated by the British Army on April 15th, 1945.

Dagmar Lieblová returned to Czechoslovakia as late as July 1945. In Kutná Hora an old family friend, Dr. František Malý, along with a former maid of the family Františka Holická, took care of her. Dagmar returned from the concentration camp with tuberculosis and a negative prognosis for recovery. After two and a half years of treatment, she was able to return home. With the help of her guardian, she was able to pass grammar school graduation exams at the age of 20 and apply to a university. She graduated from the German and Czech language Philosophical Faculty of Charles University in Prague. She married in 1955 and had three children.

Starting 1989, she was involved in the founding of the Terezín Initiative, which preserves the memory of Czech Jews. Dagmar Lieblová passed away on Marh, the 22nd, 2018.

 

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