Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Ruth Federman - February 13, 2008

German Annexation of Czechoslovakia

Do you remember the Munich Conference?

Yes, of course. Of course.

And what was...

You know that we even had, uh, masks against gas at home, in the beginning before, before the war. We had these masks.

Gas masks.

Gas masks. Uh, another thing, there was a mobilization, and they took our school, before Hitler came, yes? And we had to go in the afternoon to a school, to a very bad, uh, uh, part of the--of Prague, which had a very bad name. That I remember. Couldn't go to the school because the shu...soldiers took the school. But what's, what kind of soldiers uh, Czechoslovakia, uh...

So this was after Hitler had moved into the Sudetenland?

No--to the Sudetenland, exactly, exactly, exactly.

And what, do you remember any conversations at home about this? Was your mother frightened that they were coming?

She was frightened. We had a maid living with us because she was working. She immediately sent the maid away because she was afraid if we talk or so that she would hear. That I remember.

It was a German speaking maid?

No. But we, we spoke Czech. I mean, we spoke mostly Czech. I think that we spoke--only some days she spoke to me German. And she taught me also to write German and read German. So I came here, really--it was inside, the German language uh, was inside.

Do you remember when the German soldiers marched into Prague? Where you there?


What did you feel? What did you...

They were very good looking. Nice boys. Really. Uh, there is another story. Before we went to--a few days before we went, uh, to, to, to Palestine, we were supposed to go. We went to the Gestapo. I went with my, my mother but we were not allowed--the mothers were not allowed to go in. We had to take our, our passport which was ??? with a big 'J', ???, ???. And they had a, a pen, you kn...you re...you don't know these pens, you are too young, maybe, which we had to put into ink, yes?

Uh--huh. Yeah, sure.

But they were like this, and that, that pen was like this. Oh, you couldn't write with it. And I was standing, you see, I, I also, you know, can be very quiet, but if I don't like something, I can shout. And I started to shout, "What would you give me a pen like this? I can't, uh, write my name with the pen. Give me a good pen." We were stupid. We didn't know what, what, what the German--we didn't know what the Gestapo is. We didn't know what, what's happening to us.

What did they do?

I don't remember.

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