“We argued with Mum over books. Just imagine, we only had fifty kilos available and no space for a book or two. What we took: food, because we knew it was in short supply in Terezín. Except food weighs a bit, so it wasn’t so simple. Although we left on 2 July 1942, I was thirteen at the time, I was wrapped up like an onion, so I’d take more with me. No one measured what you were wearing.”
“Because there were all kinds of illnesses in Terezín, they set up a quarantine for a long time after the war was over. They didn’t let us go home. There were also girls of mixed race - say, twenty-four of them in the neighbouring room. These girls’ mothers came to them immediately after the war. Just imagine, their mums slept with them, on bunks! Some people had escaped, so there was some space in the room. Aryan mums came to get their girls. That was an interesting experience. We remained in Terezín until our departure for Štiřín, which was made possible by Mr Přemysl Pitter, who prepared a kind of sanatorium for us there.”
“So they arrived there (to the railway station) and Hermann sent me a message that they are sitting in the train, that they have good place at the window, so it means that they took normal train not the one for cattle. Germans sometime tried to impress people and to Treblinka they took normal personal carriage. And that he hopes we will see again each other.
For years I had been convinced that Herman was still alive. It was not until many years later, in the seventies, when I became a grandmother, that I learned that his transport went to Treblinka, and Treblinka meant that they went from the train directly to the gas chambers. To this day I sometimes think of him and it makes me sad. But that's just how life is. I didn’t stay a spinster, I didn’t stay single. I got married and I have children and I have grandchildren and I have my sweet little great-granddaughter.”
“One time I was assigned to a transport from Terezín myself. I was already fourteen at the time. I received the summons, that was a disaster, of course. Just imagine that I would have left and Mum remained - she’d be completely beside herself! But we did have some connections among the Jewish leadership of the ghetto. As soon as Mum found out that they’d sent me the summons, she ran to those people and begged them to get me off the transport. And they really did delete me from the list! It wasn’t until here, in Israel, quite recently, that I found out that we and one other family from Prostějov, the Grabsheids, were in the so-called Edlstein’s List. That was a list containing the names of people who were not to be sent out of Terezín.”
“For years I had been convinced that Herman was still alive. It was not until many years later, in the seventies, when I became a grandmother, that I learned that his transport went to Treblinka, and Treblinka meant that they went from the train directly to the gas chambers. To this day I sometimes think of him and it makes me sad. But that's just how life is. I didn’t stay a spinster, I didn’t stay free. I got married and I have children and I have grandchildren and I have my sweet little great-granddaughter.”
“We were not allowed to go to various squares. My grandfather and grandmother lived on Pernštejnské náměstí Square. When I wanted to go and visit them, I had to go from the back through another building that was adjacent to their house. I had to climb a ladder over a wall to get to the place where my grandmother and grandfather lived. All of this just because I wasn’t allowed to set my Jewish foot on the Pernštejnské náměstí Square in Prostějov.”
“It's terrible. Before we learned about I, do you have an idea how long we had waited for them to come back? They were so cunning that they hid everything from us. We had no idea that they intended to kill us. (...) Let's go to Poland. In Poland there will be more hunger, it will be colder there and there are more diseases. But the gas – we didn’t know about it. How can you take such a thing on you, to take another human and put him into a gas chamber. But we probably were not people for them anyway.”
“I’m personally grateful for everything I have – both the good and the bad. My girlfriends have nothing. They were suffocated when they were twelve, thirteen years old. That’s not a creed, it’s a fact. It’s becoming ever more obvious to me as they’re sending me those pictures from Prostějov (pre-war photographs – editor’s note) and I tell them who’s who on them. Nobody knows who those people on the pictures are except for me. I’m the only who used to know them.”
“I don’t know if anyone will even believe me that there were such morals in Terezín as there never were anywhere else in the world. If you shouldn’t steal, you don’t steal. If you shouldn’t eat, you don’t eat. A person can show restraint, and a person really can control himself, because otherwise it probably wouldn’t be possible. That’s what I appreciate the most. There was amazing self-discipline. Say I got something in the garden, I carried it in my hands, I was hungry, but I took it to Mum. I never even bit into it along the way. And I was hungry.”
Michal (Maud) Beer, née Steckelmacher, was born in 1929 in Prostějov in a Czech German-Jewish family. Both of her parents were convinced Zionists and they were determined to leave for Palestine. The war, however, thwarted their plans and they were deported - along with most of the Jewish population of Prostějov - to the Theresienstadt ghetto. They left in July 1942 on the AAm transport. Since November 1942, she lived in the girls‘ block L-410 in Theresienstadt. She survived along with her mother and her younger sister, but her father and her grandparents perished in concentration camps. After the war, she briefly stayed in the chateau of Štiřín under the supervision of Přemysl Pitter. In 1946-1949, she was actively involved in the Zionist youth movement as a leader of summer camps organized for children. Since 1949, she‘s been living in Israel, for over twenty years in a Moshav in Galilee. In Israel, she married Šimon (Oskar) Beer, who originates in Brno and raised three children. She currently lives in Tel Aviv.