Dita Krausová

* 1929  

  • “On 16 May 1949 we arrived to Haifa. What now? I had an uncle in Palestine but there were no phones and he wasn’t arriving. We stayed in a tent in a reception camp near Haifa. Seeing that the uncle wasn’t showing up, Ota said: ‘I will set out and find something.’ And really, he met the old friends – those with whom we arrived on the boat. They were already settled in a village and said: ‘Come over, they have wooden houses here and they will give you a small apartment.’ So we settled in this Bet Jicchak village located near Netanya. The Sochnut, an organization caring for those arriving in Israel, gave us two iron beds and two mattresses. Ota brought both the beds on his back on foot from Netanya. It was four kilometers. We had no money, no car…”

  • “I have a memory of the first day when we were obliged to wear the yellow Star of David on our coats. I and my friend Raja took a tram. We were still allowed to take the tram back then but only if standing on the rear platform. We were headed to some teacher. After being expelled from school we used to study privately in small groups – a few kids and a teacher. We were in the tram and I was worried what would people tell us and how did we look being labelled this way. One of the gentlemen in the tram looked at us and then said loudly so that everyone would hear: ‘These are two princesses wearing a golden star.’ And people began to smile. This first day helped us a lot. It was very helpful that instead of ignoring or harassing us people were smiling at us.”

  • “We were awaiting the inspection of all our bodily holes for diamonds. I was standing there with my mum and our despair was such that we decided not to bear this anymore and instead commit suicide. But there was no way to do it. Back then we were not yet aware of the fact that the fences around the building were charged with high voltage. We were deliberating on how to commit suicide without a rope, without a tall tower, without a deep river. There was no way. So we held on.”

  • “My mum took a bag and went to the hospital saying that she was sick. I went to visit her there but she was not cheerful at all, complaining about abdomen pain. Her belly was swollen. But I wasn’t all too concerned. That very evening I and Mausi were invited by that doctor of hers to a party, listening to music and enjoying refreshments. The next day I went to visit my mum again. I came to the room where several women were laying on their beds but my mum’s bed was empty. A bundle of her clothes was left above the bed. I shouted: ‘Where is my mum?’ Nobody replied. Then one sick Slovak woman replied: ‘Your mummy died.’ I grabbed the pack and ran back to the other room, telling Mausi: ‘My mum died.’ – ‘What do you mean, she only arrived two days ago. That’s impossible.’ But it was true.”

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Israel is my root-less home

Dita Polachová, 1942
Dita Polachová, 1942
zdroj: archiv pamětníka

Dita Krausová, née Edita Polachová, was born on 12 July 1929 in Prague into an assimilated Jewish family. Her father worked as a lawyer in a pension office while her mother was a housewife. At home they spoke both German and Czech. Dita was expelled from school on racial grounds in 1940 and then instead attended learning groups organized by the Jewish Community of Prague. On 20 November 1942 she and her parents left Prague for the Terezín ghetto. There she stayed in a girls dorm and for a while worked in agriculture. On 18 December 1943 she and her parents were assigned to the second transport and deported to the family camp in Auschwitz-Birkenau. There she worked in the children‘s block set up by Fredy Hirsch. In June 1944 she and her mother passed the selection and were transferred to Hamburg. Her father died in Auschwitz. Edita and her mother worked in the Hamburg camps on removing rubble and digging trenches. At the beginning of April 1945, following the camp evacuation, she and her mother were transferred to the Bergen-Belsen camp where they were liberated by the end of the month. Dita fell ill with typhus but recovered. Her mother died on 29 June 1945 as a result of the preceding imprisonment. The sixteen-year-old Dita returned to Prague on 1 July 1945. The only family survivors were her grandma and the Christian wife of her father‘s cousin with whom she was staying at that time. She had then met Ota B. Kraus (1921 - 2000), also a Terezín and Auschwitz survivor, and married him in 1947. Following the expropriation of a factory which was returned to her husband in restitution, the newly-weds with their six-month-old son decided to immigrate to Israel where they landed in May 1949. For a year they stayed in Bejt Jicchak near Netanya, then they moved to a kibbutz where Dita worked in the kitchen and in shoe repair. Seven years later they moved out and settled in Netanya. Ota B. Kraus worked as an English teacher and published several storybooks. The Kraus couple brought up two sons and a daughter who died in twenty years of age. Dita Krausová lives in Israel but often visits the Czech Republic. Her life story inspired Antonio Iturbe‘s book The Auschwitz Librarian.