Evelina Merová

* 1930

  • “Jews were not allowed to own pets. I had a little bird, a canary. And I was told to give it away as well. Back then, I was ten years old. I remember vividly walking with the cage through Prague. In Haštalská street, I handed it over to a man who was interested in it. Thus we did not give it away to Gestapo as we were supposed to. But I just could not understand why the bird is a Jew or why this yellow bird who used to sing so nicely should be any kind of a threat to the Third Reich.”

  • “The journey was terrifying; we were all locked up completely. There was a little barred window. Those who were close could see where we were heading. I even remember passing through Kolín andeverybody singing ‘Kolíne, Kolíne’. And all the time they were trying to figure out whether we were heading towards Germany or towards Poland. Eventually, they figured out from the names of stations that it was Poland. The journey was really terrible. We had some food which we received prior to the journey - a bit of bread and some margarine but we were not hungry. There was no toilet. There was one bucket with drinking water and one which served as a toilet. I think they poured it out of the window from time to time. There were about fifty people. Snow was everywhere; we were passing through this strange landscape. And suddenly I realized that we were never coming back. I was a very calm child and I really embraced what they had taught us in Kinderheim: not to show our feelings, to be moderate and brave. But suddenly I was overwhelmed by such fear that I started to scream and cry hysterically. My parents got really scared because I never did anything like that before. At that moment I realized that we had lost.”

  • „I remember very well performing the piece ‘About Ctirad and Šárka‘. I don’t remember who wrote the script but I know that it was a huge success. It was even written in rhymes, like poems. I portrayed Šárka who was tied to a pillar. And then there was Ctirad. We played it over and over again several times. Probably only kids from the children’s block watched it because nobody else came. There was also a choir singing ‘Domine Deus‘ in Latin. The SS men came to listen and asked Fredy what they were singing. Fredy spoke German with them as he knew German better than Czech, which he did not command too well, in fact. And he said that they were singing: ‘God, bring us bread and peace.’ One of the SS men replied: ‘But they already have that.’ And Fredy said: ‘This is why they’re singing the song.’”

  • “I had no boots and was left in the camp while everybody who was capable of working had to go to work. When they left, the guards lined us up and told us they would take us back to the camp, which meant that we were going to be sent to the gas chambers. That was in the end of November, it was on the 28th or the 29th. There was a lot of snow and it was terribly cold. We walked for hours and hours, it seemed endless indeed. We marched to the railway station but when we got there, it turned out that there was no railway station anymore. It had been bombed by the Soviets and was all in ruins. It was also apparent that the Red Army was very close as we could already hear the thundering gunfire from the frontlines. So they ordered us to turn around and walk back to the camp. The way back took hours again. When we arrived in the camp, the other inmates were completely surprised to see us alive. Everybody assumed we had already been gassed. But it didn’t work out for the Germans again. The problem was that as I had to walk barefoot in the snow, my feet were badly frost bitten. They were all black and covered with pus.”

  • “It was in 1953. I was already studying at university by then and the situation was very serious, indeed. My adoptive father, who was a doctor, was terrified because for a while it really seemed that they would send all the Jews from the Soviet Union to exile somewhere in Birobidzhan, which is a province in the Far East bordering on China. It was presented as a measure to protect the Jews from an outraged nation keen on avenging the killings of outstanding personalities of Communist life that were allegedly committed by Jews. But in reality, the Jewish connection was made up, pure propaganda. Fortunately, Stalin managed to die just in time in March 1953 and his death ended this terrible hysteria. But at that point, we sincerely believed that Stalin didn’t have anything to do with it… we thought that others at other places were responsible for heating things up and that Stalin was just kept in the dark by others.”

  • “The Germans fled and we stayed in the camp on our own. There was me, two girls of my age with their mothers and a couple of Lithuanians and Hungarians. Those who had more vitality were digging up potatoes and baked them in a stove; some of them went to a nearby Polish village to beg for food. The villagers gave them bread and some were even invited to come to the kitchen and have a meal with them. But I couldn’t walk so I just stayed in my bed on the block all the time, eating what I was given or nothing at all. I guess on January 21, the door to our block opened and a young man in a Soviet uniform stepped in. He greeted us in Russian: ‘Zdrávstvujtě’. We had no idea who he was but we figured that we were free.”

  • “Jews were obliged to wear a yellow Star of David. This was compulsory since 1941. The star had to be firmly attached to your clothes and if you wore a coat, it had to be on it as well, so you had to wear two stars. What was kind of striking for me was that if you needed more than one star, you had to buy it, i think you could get them at the Jewish community. So people who wore more than one set of clothes would buy several stars.”

  • “I really wanted to study Slavic studies because I still hoped that one day I would come back to Prague. But that was in the 1950s when the universities didn’t accept Jews, in particular not to this kind of faculties. They told me that they’re looking for future employees of diplomatic missions and that Jews were not trustworthy for that kind of jobs. So I wasn’t accepted to the faculty where I wanted to study. I even wrote a letter to Stalin because I thought that it had to be a mistake. You know, I was a very good student with excellent marks so I couldn’t believe that I had not passed. I thought that somebody must have made a mistake there. I even got a reply in writing from Stalin’s office about half a year later. It said that on that year there was a huge surplus of students who wanted to study at that faculty and that they simply couldn’t take everybody.”

  • “We were in Moscow and we had neither a ticket, nor a permit. But then it turned out that by chance there was a cargo train leaving Moscow for which you didn’t need ticket or permit. So I boarded that train with the family – I don’t remember anymore what their name was – and we travelled for 24 hours from Moscow to Leningrad. I managed to send a telegram but it never arrived. So nobody was waiting for me. I got off that train on August 31, 1945. It was a rainy day, the weather was weird, and I thought to myself: ‘what am I doing here?’ But the kind gentleman accompanied me to the address I had and the people living there were very surprised by my arrival. They hadn’t been informed about it since my message didn’t come through. I told them I was from Syzran and I have to say, they welcomed me very warmly. But of course, they had a lot of their own trouble as well.”

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They greeted us in Russian: Zdravstvujtě! We grasped that we were free.

Evelina with her mother
Evelina with her mother
zdroj: pamětnice

Evelina Merová was born on Christmas in 1930. The original name of her father was Löwy but he changed it to Landa. Evelina Merová was henceforth generally known to people as Eva Landová. In 1939 - it was by the time she attended the second year of an elementary school called „U Studánky“ - she was made to realize her Jewish roots for the first time. It was in connection with the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia. Her life gradually began to change. Laws discriminating Jews were introduced in the country and Evelina could no longer go to school or play on a playground. The family was moved to a flat where they lived together with three other Jewish families. She personally perceived as her first great loss, when her canary was taken away from her as it was illegal for Jews to possess pets. On June 28, 1942, they had to get on a transport to the Theresienstadt ghetto. In Theresienstadt, she was placed on the so-called Kinderheim L 410, in room Nr. 28. In December 1943, she went straight from hospital (she was recovering from encephalitis) on another transport, this time to Auschwitz. Her transport was one of three, which were special in a way. The Jews from these three transports weren‘t subjected to the notorious „selection“ that used to take place right at the unloading ramp in Auschwitz. Instead, they were sent directly to the „family camp“ B-II-b. The records of the inmates from these transports said that they were to remain in Auschwitz for 6 months and afterwards would receive „SB“ or „Sonderbehandlung“ (special treatment), which meant that they would be gassed. Evelina‘s father died of tuberculosis in Auschwitz. Evelin and her mother passed Mengele‘s selection and were sent to forced labor. They wouldn‘t come back to Auschwitz. They also had to dig trenches. In November 1944, her mother died of starvation and exhaustion and Evelina was left alone. By the time of her mother‘s death, she had no boots and her feet were strongly frostbitten. Therefore, she was supposed to be sent to the gas chamber but after a long and strenuous death march, they found out that the railway station no longer exists and therefore they returned back to the camp. Evelina was tied to the bed and she was running the risk of a feet amputation. By the end of January 1945 the German commanders hurriedly left the camp and they tried to murder the inmates with phenol shots and rifle-butt blows to the head. However, a portion of the inmates survived. The women were found by the soldiers of the advancing Red Army and they were taken to the Soviet field hospitals. They boarded a train which took them to the town of Syzraň in the Kujbyševo district. On that train, Evelina met a Jewish child doctor by the name of Mero, who adopted her. Evelina spent the following part of her life in Leningrad (today‘s Saint Petersburg), where she graduated in German studies, married and gave birth to two children. In 1985, her husband died and after she retired in 1995, she finally returned to her former home, something she had yearned for many years. Her son, who emigrated from the Soviet Union, presently lives in Frankfurt am Main and her daughter in Saint Petersburg.