"It's hard for one to say how they've changed. I did change in that I said to myself that things would never be important to me any more. Doesn't matter if I own something or if I lose it. Things just lost all importance to me. The real deal were human lives."
"Look, the people who lived here in Prague, or anywhere in the Protectorate, they some sort of acquaintances, some property, a flat and so on. We had already been torn out of our environment, we had already lost one home. We were living in one room with a kitchen, so we reckoned: 'It can't be any this in Terezín.' It was worse, of course. We were hungry. It was much worse. We just somehow couldn't imagine what it would be like."
Eva Roubíčková reads an entry from her diary from 30th December 1942: "I got a parcel from my Aryan [meaning from Karel Košvanec, a railwayman from nearby Bohušovice who selflessly helped the Jews in Terezín - ed.]. I don't know what to do. I would like to meet him, because it isn't right for him to send me and Eva gifts completely for free. But the people who bring me the things from him warn me, that he is very incautious, that he tells everything even to complete strangers. But I would like to send him to Prague. When he heard a friend of mine was very ill, he sent her artificial honey and fruit. Isn't that great?"
"Well, it was when I was with the sheep, on this meadow near Bohušovice. The sheep were grazing, and there at the edge of the forest was a family with two or three children, the father in a railway uniform. I didn't notice him, we were strictly forbidden from coming into contact with any non-Jew. He waved at me and pointed to show he had left a parcel there. Then they left and I went to get the parcel. I got one the first day, and again the next, again there was that family there." (Q: "And what sort of parcels were they?") "They were with bread, lard, maybe an onion, and even I think there was a packet of cigarettes. Oh, cigarettes were so very forbidden."
Eva Roubíčková reads an entry from her diary from 14th November 1943: "I'll never forget how, come evening, everyone started running - towards the ghetto. It started to rain. Our room were all clasped firmly to each other, like our happiness depended on whether we'd stay together. Everyone said it was impossible that they would let us go home, and that there was no point in that case, but everyone ran the same direction all the same, because no one wanted to stay behind. Of course we couldn't get far before it all stopped. Then we made two steps and waited another half hour. And so on, until nine p.m., and we still didn't know whether they had let a single soul into the ghetto. Children were crying for their lost mothers, old people were dropping like flies, because they just couldn't take any more after fourteen hours of waiting. Some laid themselves down in nearby houses, there to wait out the night." End of the reading, Eva Roubíčková adds: "Well, that was the census! That's just it, in a ghetto like that, I don't know if people can imagine it really, but the place is full of hearsay. What'll happen, what'll be next. There was talk about politics, end of the war, when would the Germans lose. All sorts of rubbish like that. Someone made it up and it spread in no time. No one said 'I heard that', but instead 'it's certainly true'."
We told ourselves that it couldn‘t get any worse than what it was, in Terezín
Eva Roubíčková, née Mändelová, was born in 1921 in Žatec into a family of German-speaking Jews. Her father, a veteran of World War I, taught Latin and Greek at a grammar school. During the Munich crisis, anti-Jewish sentiments soared in the predominantly German Žatec, and the family was forced to depart the city and live in considerably more meagre conditions in Prague. Their plan to emigrate in 1939 did not work out, and in 1941, Eva and her whole family could not avoid deportation to the Terezín ghetto. There she started doing farm work, which saved her from transportation east. But not so her parents and grandmother who were taken away in the autumn of 1944. When Eva realised that she was left alone in Terezín, she volunteered for transportation. She did not leave however, as the transports were cancelled. For almost the whole time in Terezín (until the autumn of 1944, when her relatives left) she diligently wrote a diary, giving a colourful picture of the Terezín reality, and of her own experiences. Her book, The Terezín Diary [Terezínský deník], was first published in Czech in 2009. An important role in her life during the Terezín internment was played by the Czech railwayman Karel Košvanec, who, selflessly and despite great risks, constantly supplied Eva and other prisoners with food and other goods. When during one control, the gendarmes found smuggled food on Eva, she was imprisoned by the SS guards and cruelly interrogated. It was a matter of luck and coincidence that she did not end up in a transport east or was not otherwise persecuted. She continued to smuggle goods into the ghetto, despite the great danger. Unlike her parents, Eva survived in Terezín till the end of the war. After returning home, she married Richard Roubíček, her pre-war fiancé and soldier on the western front. She died 1.12.2013.