Jiří Fišer

* 1936  

  • “When the train opened up on the ramp in Auschwitz, you could see that the other prisoners, who’d been there for some time, were throwing out those who hadn’t survived the journey. There were a lot of them. My impression is it was at least a third or a half who died on the way from Terezín to Auschwitz. We survived only because we were still children, so it kind of washed over us somehow.”

  • “They organised the death march long before the Russians came. They stood us in rows of three, a motley group. We only had a few Germans guarding us, kapos who weren’t afraid of being done in. So we set off in minus twenty, minus twenty-five degrees [Celsius - trans.]. We went in our prison rags, some had shoes, some didn’t. So we walked four kilometres from the family camp B2B to the main camp of Auschwitz. We children kept toward the front because we reckoned that if we went at the front, we’d be more likely to manage it. But the greatest tragedy was that the kapos went at the back, and we were terribly surprised that the war was practically over and we kept hearing gunshots. So we’d turn, look all around. The ones who couldn’t walk any more, the weak and the ill, those with no strength left, they stayed at the back. And before we reached the main camp, those who couldn’t go on, who tripped up or fell, they were shot, just like that.”

  • “When the train opened up on the ramp in Auschwitz, you could see that the other prisoners, who’d been there for some time, were throwing out those who hadn’t survived the journey. There were a lot of them. My impression is it was at least a third or a half who died on the way from Terezín to Auschwitz. We survived only because we were still children, so we didn’t take it somehow.”

  • “We were transported in April 1942. On April 1, 1942 we left from Brno to the assembly place. We travelled to Terezín under the number Ah19 together with my brother, aunt, and uncles Emil, Bedřich and Richard. Uncle was assigned to the transport to Auschwitz. But they were young and strong and capable enough, and they had an opportunity, too, and they somehow managed to escape from the train car. Then they worked under a different identity for some gardener until the end of the war, and they changed their name Fischer to Novák. They remained there until the end of the war.”

  • “We children were put in a house for twins. I was there with my brother. The house looked a bit different than the family ones. Those had up to four levels of beds, the house for twins had two to three. Mengele intended to conduct pseudo-medical anthropological experiments on us. The higher-ranking officers had charged him with making scientific experiments that would show how much more soldiers could stand. Say, in the winter. There were twins there who were taken from a normal environment and cooled to minus twenty degrees [Celsius - trans.], and Mengele observed whether it was possible to survive that or not. When it was possible, he sent a letter to Berlin stating that the experiment had been successful.”

  • “We arrived to Auschwitz at night and we didn’t know where we were. When we saw the SS men who were doing the selection, we already knew that it was worse than Terezín. Josef Mengele was the head of the doctors in Auschwitz and he was selecting people who were interesting for him. He was an anthropologist and he was interested in people’s appearances, in handicapped people… I noticed, for example, that a transport arrived in another train and there was one man who had a prosthetic leg. Mengele was interested in this, and he thus immediately selected him so that the man would not be sent to the other group which was to be gassed. He studied how the man could live with the prosthesis, because he was interested in it. As for twins, he was interested in what we shared and how we differed.”

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Many twins died in Auschwitz because Mengele wanted their internal organs

Jiří Fischer
Jiří Fischer
zdroj: archiv pamětníka

Jiří Fišer (spelled Fischer until 1956) was born together with his identical twin Josef on January 7, 1936 in Česká Třebová. Both his parents were Jewish and in addition to the twins, they also had daughter, Věra, who was one and a half years older than the boys. Jiří‘s father Arnold Fischer worked as a railway official in Česká Třebová and he joined the resistance movement there. The Gestapo arrested him in 1940 and on May 17, 1941 he died in the concentration camp Neungamme. Immediately after the occupation, the parents sent their twins Jiří and Josef to Nesovice, where they lived on a farm owned by their aunt and uncle. However, even there they were not safe from the Nuremberg laws and in April 1942 they had to board a transport bound for Terezín. They remained in the Terezín ghetto until May 15, 1944 when they were transported in a cattle train car to Auschwitz. During the selection after arrival they were picked by Josef Mengele for his atrocious experiments. For nine months they were being used as research specimens. Josef Fišer remembers that his blood was exchanged with his brother‘s blood, or that they were vaccinated and then observed for their bodily reactions. Josef Mengele would then carefully record the outcome in his notebook. After the liberation of Auschwitz, Soviet soldiers took Jiří and Josef to a children‘s home in Košice, and their uncle Emil Fischer then went to pick them up there after hearing an announcement on the radio. Only several years after the war the brothers learnt that their thirty-two-year-old mother Emilie and their ten-year-old sister Věra had died at night on July 11-12th 1944 in a gas chamber in Auschwitz together with three and a half thousand other Czechoslovak women and children. About sixty of his relatives had died in Nazi concentration camps and Jiří Fišer still finds it hard to cope with this war trauma.