Helena Stránská

* 1924  

  • “They put us to work underground. It was a huge pen with mountains before it, and Hitler had factories built in the foothills. You’ve no doubt heard that Mussolini gave him [?] underground in thirty-eight, and they made factories according to it. And all the machines I had worked with were there [because they moved them there from the previous camp - ed.]. It was a camp near Leibnitz.”

  • “The Russian [woman] Mariya and Vasil came from Crimea, so I guess she was Ukrainian actually, then me, then there was one Italian captive there: he had a rank, but it’d been stripped, but he had the clothes, you know, a pretty Italian type he was, black, handsome. Well, and the five of us serviced the machine. Well, but [our shift was] from six to six, it was so tiring! But at noon - we went for lunch. Except I told myself when I came there: I won’t eat and I’ll die in a fortnight. That was my idea, you know. Because I was awfully, you know, picky about food, Mum had had such a hard time with me, with my food... But when you’re there a fortnight, you get so hungry that you don’t look twice if it’s edible or not, you go right in.”

  • “It was clean there, but they had to use some kind of ventilation, otherwise we’d suffocate; but a lot of girls fell ill. There was one Anička from Mladé Vožice in my room, and she got boils all over her body. And then I got them as well, but that Anička died [later - ed.]. And so we were sick, we were in our room, and one day she told me: ‘Mum sent me a package.’ And there was a bottle of milk in it, kind of sour, like cream. And she asked me to give her a drink of it, so I did, and she died straight afterwards.”

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    Černovice, 14.07.2016

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There was much that was merry, more that was sad

Portrait of Today
Portrait of Today
zdroj: Iva Chvojková Růžičková

Helena Stránská, née Ptáčková, was born in 1924 in the village of Černovice in southern Bohemia. Like her sister Růžena Carpeza Ptáčková (also recorded in Memory of Nations), she was assigned to forced labour in Graz. After a devastating air raid in July 1944, she was transferred to a labour camp on the borders of Serbia. She fell ill and was sent to Prague in August 1944, from where she went home. However, she was reported and had to sign up for work again in Prague; she commuted there until Christmas 1944. Before the end of the war, she risked her life by supporting partisans in the vicinity of Kamenice. After the war she and her husband opened a shop in the Kladno District. It was confiscated during the wave of nationalisation, and Helena Stránská was marked as unreliable and was unable to find any employment. She and her husband raised two children.