PhDr. Tomáš Hrbek

* 1943

  • “It really dragged on for a long time. Eventually he managed to produce some documents that his mother really had not been of Jewish origin. From the way he did it, it was obvious at the first sight that these documents were forged. Take this, for example, there is a document from the parish office in Kostelec na Hané. You can see that this stamp was made by a rubber stamp from a children’s play kit. And this round stamp here – he once explained to me that he had done it by dipping a cap from an ink bottle in paint and then pressing it against the paper and then he made this part using rubber stamps from a play kit.”

  • “When the worst happened, the Gestapo from Prague sent somebody here to Olomouc to investigate Bittman and to get those Jewish women, who were still evading them, to Prague. My mom came to Bittman to be hospitalized there, and they came to the hospital. My sister, who was ten years old at that time, just happened to be in the hospital room visiting our mother. When the Gestapo entered the room, she hid behind the bed. Bittman came into the room with them and said: ‘This is Mrs. Hrbková. She is my patient and I will not let her go. If you want to take her, I quit my job.’ And they left. This Mr. Bittman really was an extraordinary person.”

  • “This pamphlet is actually a disputation. It is titled Das deutsche Theater und die Reinheit des Blutes, meaning The German Theatre and the Pureness of Blood, with the subtitle Die Zeit der großen Charakterprobe, The Time of the Great Test of Character. The German part of the theatre staged a play in 1938, and the theatre’s stage-manager or somebody else wrote a speech for it which was downright racist. My father, who was a husband of a Jewish woman and a democrat, wrote this pamphlet against it and he was disseminating it. People knew about this, and he was therefore one of the first people who were arrested after March 1938.”

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    Židovská obec Olomouc, Komenského 7, 11.02.2016

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There were cases when people refused to go to a concentration camp

Tomáš Hrbek was born August 15, 1943 in Olomouc. His mother is of Jewish origin and his father was partly Jewish as well. Many of his relatives were transported to concentration camps. His father, attorney Leo Hrbek, exerted great effort to save his wife from having to board a transport. Otokar Bittman, a gynaecologist from Olomouc, helped the family when he provided a shelter in the hospital for Tomáš‘s mother. Tomáš Hrbek studied English and Czech studies at the Faculty of Arts of Palacký University in Olomouc and afterward he was teaching at the Secondary School of Economics in Olomouc until 1990. In 1990 he returned to the Faculty of Arts where he started teaching at the Department of Art History. He also held the position of a chancellor at Palacký University until 2009. Tomáš Hrbek currently serves in several honorary positions: he is the vice-chairman of the Jewish Community in Olomouc, vice-chairman of the Foundation for Holocaust Victims and a member of the Council of the Federation of Jewish Communities. He has lived in Olomouc for his entire life.