“IF I HAD BEEN A BOY THEY WOULD HAVE SHOT ME...”
As a 16-year-old girl, Jaroslava Skleničková was imprisoned in Ravensbrück concentration camp together with the women from Lidice. She was the oldest of the Lidice children. She also survived thanks to being imprisoned with her mother and her sister Miloslava and the support they gave her. They were also lucky and lived to see the end of the war. Women from Lidice were transported to Ravensbrück after the Nazi occupation of their village. Lidice was burnt down on 10 June 1942, the men and the boys over the age of fifteen were shot and 102 children were gassed in Chelmno extermination camp. Only seventeen children survived the war.
At the end of April 1945, Jaroslava underwent a four-day death march of 127 kilometres and was liberated in Crivitz. The return home was very sad because the house she had been born in had been destroyed and her beloved father had been shot.
In 2006, she published a book about her life that became a bestseller and was translated into many global languages. Despite the serious health problems that originated from the time she was imprisoned at a young age, she still enjoys her grandchildren and great-grandchildren and is concerned about the current problems of society. She speaks out publicly against xenophobia and injustice.
The stories that the Suchánková sisters told me motivated me not only to study history with a focus on war history, but also to reconstruct the death march of the Lidice women, which I myself underwent in 2017. It is remarkable what inner strength the women found at the end of the war to survive. Jaroslava Skleničková does not only remember Ravensbrück as a place of suffering and tragedy, but instead she emphasises the strong friendship and enormous solidarity of some of her fellow prisoners who saved her and others’ lives. Today she is the last living Lidice woman.
A friend of Jaroslava Skleničková