“‘What did you think as a twenty-year-old boy?’ ‘As a boy? Well, there was a saying – rather than living on knees it was better to fight. My elder brother, who left for Palestina after that,was in the Army. He came back all unhappy. He was mobilized. On the other hand, I trusted Beneš at that time, I have to say. Belonging to the warlike, no, it wasn't my nature.”
“All the Fleicher family were arrested by Gestapo. I was also arrested and imprisoned in Kounicovy Koleje in Brno. When being interrogated it all looked very bad, they took all materials from me. They found out that I was a member of the ‘Techelet Lavan.’ The interrogator also told me he had no time to deal with me. I was a Slovak citizen and he told me to leave the place and go to Slovakia. It was just his wedding day and he wouldn't spoil his day because of me. That happened in 1940. Of course I didn't obey and I didn't leave for Slovakia. The Germans used to march through Brno every evening, they marched through some streets, through some places where mainly Jews lived. I lived at Ponávka. They chanted slogans such as: ‘Juden heraus’ (‘Jews out of here’) (unintelligible) and similar slogans... I left Brno at the end of the 40's. At that time was ‘Hachšara’ still at existence, if you know what it means. It is an agricultural preparation for emigration (to Palestine.) It was a kind of re-training and it was in Míčice, not far from Křivoklát. So I went there for ‘Hachšara.’”
“Should we have fought? Well, you see, that's a cardinal question that will remain unanswered with the intent that, or rather, that one part will always think we should have fought even at the price of our loss. The second part is convinced that it was impossible. I have just written an essay and according to what I lectured about, I came to the following conclusion. I studied all the sources and all the circumstances and I concluded that Beneš wanted to fight as no one. These are not only clichés what he said on the Munich Days that he was ready to die etc. After the disappointment from Chamberlain after Berchtesgaden. They were giving more and more requirements, they gave the chance to Czechoslovakia to decide itself and to get mobilized. Finally, there was a situation when you could defend yourself no matter what the result would be. (Beneš believed), that the general opinion in England, in France and in the West would change and that some new politicians would come. He still believed that. Then it turned out to be false. Also a part of the general public was for fighting. Then, the second phase of the Munich Day came, the one after September 21.”
“I knew that there were often low goings-on in high places. I went by train to the borders and entered a carriage with some German lieutenants. What played its role in my case was that I didn't want into any camp, into any Terezín. My appearance was not very Jewish either. My hair was still blond at that time, in simple terms, I spoke quite good German – I was in that family and I also learned at Grammar School. All those were the deciding reasons for which I didn't undergo any transport. Then, there were some Gestapo records in the Jewish Community there. They made copies for me when I came back. There stood that I didn't arrive to transport. But I'm even on the list in the (Pinkas) synagogue, as an American found out, because they had only those records. I have to arrange what to do with it somehow as I'm presented on the list as one of those who were supposed to be transported and never came back.”
“Well, to briefly introduce myself. I was born on November 7, 1918. By the way it was the day when – according to our calendar – the Bolshevik revolution in Russia broke out. And I'm still alive today. I was born in such a small one-horse village in East Slovakia, it was called Hamborek. I was born in a family of a poor, a very poor small businessman who owned just a general merchandise shop. Well, and we were gradually nine brothers and sisters. I was growing up in very, in very difficult social conditions. The family... I was born in an orthodox Jewish family who kept all the rules and who... Altogether there were only two such families in the whole small village, that had no more than about a hundred inhabitants.”
“An SS-Health Commission used to come there once a week or once in three, four days. First, they took all corpses and the seriously ill away and liquidate them. I was at the exit (of a house), I even felt that a ‘good’ man took my shoes off at night. My shoes were quite alright even after all those changes. Some of those who didn't know me, they had already put me on a scrapheap. When the Commission came, it was necessary that everyone who was capable reported his number and ‘melde gehorsam’ and ‘gesund.’ Simply that you were alright and more importantly you had to come to attention. There was some solidarity among the prisoners. I saw my friends watching me if I'd stand up or not. They almost completely hypnotized me so that I stood up and reported myself. How that happened I cannot say even today but I stood up. I said my name, ‘melde gehorsam, gesund.’ They had no time to deal with you for a long time, so they carried on. I collapsed right after that. My friends took me to the house, it was in March and the sun was out. It was some kind of a place that was not watched over too much. I suspect it was probably the March sun that healed me. They took me out whenever possible. They used to bring me there some water and bread. I got over it through some kind of a miracle or something.”
My hair was blond at that time, and on top of that my German was pretty good
Historian Koloman Gajan was born as Koloman Edelmann in 1918. He was the seventh of nine children. He came from an orthodox Jewish family from Hambork, a little village in Šariš in East Slovakia. He graduated from Jewish Reform Real Grammar School in Brno in the school year 1939/1940. He was shortly arrested by Gestapo in 1940. Luckily he was released and left Brno for a training camp of the Zionistic Youth for emigration to Palestine. It took place in the Křivoklát area. He stayed in the Czech country until March 1942. When there was a threat of his transportation, he illegally left for Slovakia. He lived at his sister‘s first, then he obtained false documents for the name Jan Gajan. He joined domestic resistance movement. He was arrested in December 1944. He went through six different concentration camps - Sachsenhausen, Bergen-Belsen, Kaufering, Landsberg, Lauingen and Allach - in the period from January to May 1945. He settled down in Prague after 1945 and studied History at the School of Philosophy at Charles University. He received his PhDr. degree in 1952. He was professionally engaged with history of working-class movement, later with international relations of 20th century. He taught at the Philosophical Faculty, Charles University by 1969. He was a Czech Communist Party member in 1945-1969. After 1969 he was prohibited to publish and teach his subject. Therefore he worked as a language teacher in a Conference Center (The Park of Julius Fučík) in Prague. After 1990 he came back to his lecturing activities at the Philosophical Faculty, Charles University. He lives in Prague-Dejvice at present.th century. He taught at the Philosophical Faculty, Charles University by 1969. He was a Czech Communist Party member in 1945-1969. After 1969 he was prohibited to publish and teach his subject. Therefore he worked as a language teacher in a Conference Center (The Park of Julius Fučík) in Prague. After 1990 he came back to his lecturing activities at the Philosophical Faculty, Charles University. He lives in Prague-Dejvice at present.