Rudolf Roubíček

* 1926  

  • “Me and my brother were in the last group of five. He stood on the right edge. Since it was cold we received long coats. My brother went first, I was the second. We had to wedge our elbows into each other’s and began to trot. So we trotted on and on. Now, I don’t know what it is about me but I hadn’t looked down as all the others, instead looking around curiously. So I could see that something was happening somewhere around the second row. I could see the SS-man who ran beside us turn one of the men around, grasp him, hit his arm with a rifle butt and then put him back. During all of this we kept trotting. So I became a bit more aware. Then I could see them pulling out one guy from the ninth or tenth row and again, hit him. When they did it for the third time – by that time, they were nearing our last row – I could see that each one who was pulled out wore glasses. This was based on the German belief that glasses were the sign of intelligentsia which was redundant. The SS-man was getting close, grasped my brother and turned him around. But before that happened I told him: ‘Karel, take your glasses off.’ – ‘Why so?’ – ‘Keep shut and take your glasses of quickly.’ So he put them in his pocket. At that very moment the soldier grasped him, turned him around but now could see that he didn’t wear glasses. So he put him back and we went on.”

  • “He pointed at me to go left towards the women, children and elderly. I stepped out to go there but my daddy grasped my right hand and pulled me back, holding us both with my brother. At that moment, he shouted like hell on this guy – let me try it: ‘Nein! Wir alle drei sind sehr gute Facharbeiter. Wir werden zusammen arbeiten. – No! We are three good qualified workers and we will work together.’ He turned pale. This Mengele turned completely pale, his cheeks lost color completely. His hand with the whip stayed up in the air… It took four, five, maybe six seconds. He froze completely. Then he looked at my daddy who gave him this amazing look. As I said, when daddy ordered something, it was enough to look at him and we went to do it at once. Because seeing daddy’s eyes, it was like a hurricane. Now they were looking into each other’s eyes and I reckon it took at least 30 seconds. At least.”

  • “On the 13th we received a summons stating that on the 16th we had to report in the exhibition hall in Holešovice which stood there before the palace was built instead. We could have had one piece of luggage, not weighing more than 50 kilos and has to make an inventory of our apartment, listing all the furniture, number of cups, spoons, everything. My daddy worked on it all day, counting it and writing it down. We had to turn it in at arrival. So it was all done. Daddy hanged on but mummy wasn’t doing well. She kept looking back at our luggage. Then they told us they would come for the luggage which they did at around the 15th. The driver already had plenty of suitcases there, driving around the given addresses. When he was saying goodbye, he shook my daddy’s hand and looked into his eyes for a while without telling us anything. Then he left. My, my daddy and some others were watching his car depart. This was the departure of my beautiful childhood.”

  • “As we stood there in the frost, there was a fence, behind it a vast meadow and then there was only a forest. Now, I could see a truck coming, transporting women, children and the elderly. It was crossing the field diagonally, then returned and then again departed. At that moment I thought that they were going to their death. I don’t know where I got that inception. I just remember that back home, at some large wall – perhaps in the Jewish community – there was a painting depicting a huge ditch and people trying to escape from it. Those who were already half out treaded on each other. This image somehow stayed in my memory and based on it I realized that we were practically intended for liquidation. When we later got to the large camp, the first thing I thought was: ‘I have to return to Wenceslas Square to buy the fried bread which my daddy bought me when we were back in Prague.’ This was my faith for all of this time.”

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Too many coincidences and luck for a single life

Rudolf Roubíček 1948
Rudolf Roubíček 1948
zdroj: archiv pamětníka

Rudolf Roubíček was born on 13 March 1926 in Prague into an assimilated Jewish family. His father Robert worked as a car mechanic, his mum Aranka was a housewife looking after her four children. Rudolf attended elementary school from which he was expelled in 1940, after which he trained to become a joiner. In December 1941 his older brother Karel was sent to the Terezín ghetto as part of the so-called Aufbaukommando. The rest of the family - both parents, Rudolf and his sisters Renée and Věra - followed on 19 July 1942. As a punishment, in January 1943 Rudolf‘s sister Renée was enlisted to a transport to Auschwitz. The rest of the family joined her voluntarily. They arrived to Auschwitz on 26 January 1943. None of Rudolf‘s parents and sisters survived. Rudolf and Karel were transferred to the main camp. In July 1943 Rudolf left the camp for Warsaw where he worked on clearing away the ruins after the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. He stayed there for about a year and by late summer 1944 was among the prisoners transferred to the Dachau concentration camp. From there he was sent to the Kaufering IV camp, then in February 1945 further to Landsberg where he lived to see liberation. At the end of May 1945 he returned to Prague where he met his brother Karel, one of the few family members who survived the war. Rudolf Roubíček finished his compulsory education, trained to become a joiner and then continued studying a high school of furniture industry. From 1948 till 1950 he underwent military service and was drafted once again in 1951 for three years for an extraordinary military exercise. He stayed in the army up until 1971 when he was dismissed due to his disagreement with the 1968 Soviet invasion. He later worked in a warehouse and retained occasional jobs even after retiring in 1983. He takes part in discussions, stressing the need to keep memory of the holocaust. In 2011 he published an autobiography entitled To live through this hell at all costs!!! Rudolf Roubíček is a widower and lives in Prague.