Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Lisa Kallai - January 28, 2008

Life in Czechoslovakia

And you went to stay...

Stay with my grandparents.

In, in...where in Czechoslovakia?

Small place called Habry, which is about 50 kilometers um, a little bit more southwest...southeast of Prague.

Did they speak German as well?

Uh, wasn't very advised to speak German in Czech...in Bohemia at that time.


No, I spoke Czech. I was...

You did speak Czech. ...more or less bi...bilingual at that time. I've forgotten it meanwhile but at that time I knew Czech. I went to Czech school for a year when I got there. But I knew Czech before.

But this is a small village you said.

It was called a town but it was fairly small.

What was it like to come into a new school with new...

I don't know, I just, just picked up...

Were there other Jewish children?

No, no. I was the only Jewish child.

And did, did people know that you were Jewish?

Of course, yes, of course.

They did. Um...

It became a little awkward when the German army got stuck there. I was the only one who spoke German and the children thought this was wonderful because I could talk to all these soldiers. They always pushed me in the foreground to talk to them.

When the Germans came in, was, was this 1939?

This was 1939, yes.

Do you remember them marching in?

Yes, very well because they got stuck...there was a bad snowstorm and they got stuck and they were billeted in our school. There were two schools buildings so they concentrated all the children in one and billeted the German soldiers in the other and this was more or less opposite the place that my grandparents lived...had a store.

So what was that like seeing German soldiers?

Well, it was...like I said it was a bit scary because as I said I tried to keep in the background and they kept pushing me in the foreground. They didn't understand.

And you communicated with the Germans?

Well, I tried to do it fastly.

Were you, were you frightened on a daily basis by this?

Not really, not at...no, I don't think I was so aware at that stage what, what it really meant and, uh...

And your grandparents? Did they talk about this at home?

I don't remember. Well, you know, they were aware of it of course because at first other relatives from other towns came as they, they fled as the Germans came in. They came to us and then they went on. My grandparents had this sort of general store and the Germans did a lot of shopping there because they had goods which apparently weren't available in Germany at that time so at first they flooded the store and then there was an order that they shouldn't, shouldn't buy in Jewish stores so that stopped. At first it was just business.

Do you remember when they started to pass the discriminatory laws?


The Nuremburg Laws for example.

Uh, not really because I left in the summer after, I mean, the summer of 1939 and they didn't really reach us at that, at that, at that stage.

It was just before.

Yeah, it was just before.

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