“IF I HADN’T BEEN AN ACTIVE SPORTSPERSON BEFORE THE WAR, I WOULDN’T HAVE SURVIVED.”
Before the war my mother was a member of the Czechoslovak Communist Party. She worked in film and was very active in sports as a member of the athletics team at Prague Sports University. She skied, race walked and played field hockey. When the war started, she and my father joined the resistance. From the second half of 1941 she was imprisoned in Pankrác, Prague, while my father was later imprisoned in the Terezín Small Fortress and Mauthausen concentration camp. My mother was later transported to Ravensbrück, where she survived to the end of the war. She was assigned number 9030.
At the end of April 1945, the women were forced out of the camp and sent on the death march. My mother, together with four friends, escaped to near the small town of Goldberg. The first thing the young women did was make civilian clothes in an abandoned house. After a one-day battle for Goldberg, they managed to get on to the side of the Soviet Army. They then stayed to help in the dairy near Goldberg until mid-August 1945. Then they met a Czech who was with the British Air Force and who had run out of petrol in Goldberg. The women got petrol for him from the Russian garrison and he took them to Prague by car. Each of the women was given six kilograms of butter from the dairy for the journey.
After the war, my mother worked for a film weekly newsreel and I grew up in the countryside with her mother, to whom I owe my good health. I was among the first children born to prisoners after the war. I was very ill, and my grandmother treated me and my parents with a healthy diet that was not available in towns. In 1995 I attended an international workcamp in Ravensbrück as the first descendant of one of the inmates, where I first got hold of the book “Ravensbrück” which my mother had helped to write. Mother was a straight, honest person. From her mother she had a strong social sense and a great sense of humour.
When I asked my mother about the concentration camp, she said, “The most beautiful spring in my life was when I escaped from the death march.” My parents never talked to me about the horrors of the camp. My mother started to talk about her experiences in the concentration camp only in old age with my sons. She said that she survived due to the camaraderie with others, their mutual help and because they kept up standards, but mainly because she had been actively involved in sports before the war.
Miroslava Berdychová’s daughter