Havlíčkobrodští Neighbors Who Disappeared
Eliška Konupková, Monika Křížová, Kateřina Boumová
Basic School Štoky
Who experienced real pain,
Translation: Google Translate and other sources.
Czech Council for Victims of
Nazism, an endowment fund
While working on this project, we encountered and received the help of many interesting people.
We would like to give our thanks to Ladislav Vilímek, who allowed us to set up a display on the grounds of the Jewish cemetery in Jihlava and indeed, unwittingly introduced us to the "Neighbors Who Disappeared" project. He also helped us search for information in the Jihlava State District Archive.
Our greatest thanks goes to all the descendants of the Pachner family. Without their help and support we would never have been able to amass such a large amount of information and photographic documentation.
Our six former classmates, who began the difficult early stages of the project in the summer of 2006, also deserve our thanks. We thank Bára Molnárová, Karolína Palánová, Pavlína Brožová, Tereza Prokšová, Marie Váchová, and Petra Kubátová.
We received useful advice and guidance in the project from its coordinator, Ms Miroslava Ludvíková (of the Jewish Museum in Prague), and from Ms Marta Vančurová (of the "The Forgotten Ones" Association). They introduced us to the project and all of its possibilities. They also lent us a camera so we could record our meetings, discussions, and events. They helped some of us attend an international seminar for teachers in Terezín (November 2006), a workshop at the Cultural and Educational Center in Prague (March 2007), and a seminar in Chotěboř (June 2007), allowing us to present our project. With the help of Ms Marta Vančurová and "The Forgotten Ones" Association, we were able to get funding for the publication of this brochure. We were also helped and encouraged by Ms Eva Kuželová, a lecturer at the Education and Cultural Center at the Jewish Museum in Prague.
We would also like to mention the great cooperation of the Havlíčkův Brod Archives employees, who allowed us to do our research almost indefinitely. We were aided in our search for materials by Ms Renáta Růžičková (Pardubice Archive), Ms Alena Kašparová (Highlands Museum of Havlíčkův Brod), Ms Marta Vomelová (Polná town museum), Ms Ivo Šulc (Chrudim Archive) and Mr. Martin Štindl, Ph.D. (Žďár nad Sázavou Archive, Velké Meziříčí branch).
We were helped to visualize and understand some of the complex events and emotions of World War II by several very willing witnesses of this terrible time. We are unable to name all of them here, but they also deserve our thanks.
Nearly all of the photographs and scanned documents used were professionally prepared for printing by Jiří Egert, who is also the source of some of them.
Ing. Martin Kříž and Mr. Vladimír Voldřich took care of the graphical editing of the text for the printing of this brochure.
We would, of course, also like to thank our school, which allowed us to use its technical equipment and otherwise supported us.
The help of Ms Ludmila Andrlová was invaluable, especially in proofreading all the published texts as well as translating the German texts into Czech.
However, the leader of our group, our teacher Barbora Voldřichová, was the single most important participant. Without her, we probably wouldn't have gotten this far.
We also give great thanks to our parents, who encouraged us and allowed us to participate in all the events.
Eliška, Monča, Kačka B., Denča, Evča, Lenča, Gabča, Lucka and Kačka R.
the project "Havlíčkobrodští Neighbors Who Disappeared"
Our group consists of nine girls and our teacher. We joined the "Neighbors Who Disappeared" project in August 2006, although we had already been researching some events of World War II for several weeks before that and we had been assembling the tragic story of one Jewish family. Why did we do this, you may wonder. It all started after we meet with someone who had been studying the Holocaust for several years; this sparked our interest. Our teacher also helped here, when, in May 2006, she took us on a school trip to the Terezín Memorial, a place closely linked to the suffering of thousands of people. A few days before that we had gone to see an exposition at the Jihlava Jewish cemetery. There we met the Jihlava archivist, Ladislav Vilímek, who suggested that we could set up a display of our research in the vacant ceremonial chamber in the cemetery. We enthusiastically agreed and set our group's first meeting. There were quite a few of us at that first meeting, at least twenty, but the number gradually dropped, at first to fifteen then, after the basic school girls left us, to the current nine.
Before Archives in Havlíčkův Brod, June 2007
Top row from left: Lucka, Lenka, Kačka B., paní učitelka, Kačka R., Monča
Lower row from left: Gabča, Denča, Evča, Eliška
We had absolutely no idea where to begin. We knew that there wasn't much Holocaust information recorded in our area and that there were probably many stories to be learned, and also that one local historian had already written about the topic of the Jews of Štoky several years earlier. It is, however, only twelve kilometers from Štoky to Havlíčkův Brod, where the topic of the local Jews has been left untouched to date. We still didn't know where to begin our search, though. Fortunately, our teacher recalled the Pachner family, information about which she had coincidentally encountered in the Havlíčkův Brod town archives during her university studies. This gave us our starting point, and it is the reason why we chose this family for our research. We did not know how much information we would be able to assemble but we believed we would at least find something.
Our first step brought us to the research room of the district library of Havlíčkův Brod. This was was during the summer holidays—the beginning of July. While our classmates were enjoying their holidays, we were delving into books, journals, and brochures. We found advertisements for a company and a shop owned by the Pachners and an article about the building they lived in. Brochures from the local high school mentioned several students named Pachner.
Girls work in the research room in Archives of Havlíčkově
Lucie looks in Terezin
At the next meeting we went to the Havlíčkův Brod town archives. There were fourteen of us and we filled the entire research room. Fortunately for us, the archive staff members were very understanding about our endeavors and even helped us find various sources of information. We enthusiastically burrowed through the cartons they brought us with high expectations. We began with the records of a turn-of-the-century census, which allowed us to assemble a list of all the Pachner family members, their full names, dates of birth, and their birthplaces. We started to compare this data with the Terezín Memorial Book and found the first few names of Holocaust victims from this family. We scoured the contemporary newspapers and journals which were often filled with nonsensical and evil antisemitic articles. The wartime edicts aimed against the Jews were also a terrible read—library bans, cinema bans, eight o'clock curfews, the obligation to wear the Star of David... there were quite a few.
Decree of 4 September 1941: the prohibition of Jews' borrowing books from public libraries
Another major source of information were letters, written before and during the war, by the Pachners. These letters were deposited in the archives; they were a legacy of writer Josefa Jahoda (1872–1946). Jahoda and Pachner were close friends, having both studied at the Německý Brod high school.1 The greatest number of letters were written in 1935, although there were letters from as early as World War I, and some that were written during World War II. Arnošt, Artur, František, and Oskar Pachner are the authors of most of the letters.
Artur and Ella Pachner write
Arnošt Pachner writes
Label of the Josef Pachner Company
Initially, we didn't even dare to hope that we would find photographs. The archives only contained pre-war photos of the Pachners' house. This situation changed when we managed to find a descendant of the family and establish contact with him. This wasn't in any way a simple task either; the way we made this discovery was slightly out of the ordinary—it was by using the Internet. We just Googled the Pachner name and found a
few links. Most of the links were for "Peter's Rum" pages—in several languages! Thanks to one of these websites, we obtained our first image: a label for a rum produced by Josef Pachner. This find made us very happy and we have viewed it often.
Text of e-mail, where Evča approached
strangers and asked them for help
This still wasn't what we wanted to find, however. We didn't know how the people looked, what made them happy and what their worries were. One of us gave in in the end and sent a polite, explanatory email to all the email addresses she could find for this name about who we were and what we were doing. After several responses that were of no help to us, we finally received one response which made us rejoice. A man wrote to us to say that he was a descendant of the Pachner family and that he would be glad to cooperate with us. This was a
1 Until 1945 Havlíčkův Brod was named Německy Brod.
great breakthrough for us, as we obtained a lot of information, and several weeks later we were in contact with nearly all of the living members of the family. We have been very lucky, because all of them supported (and still support) our work and were very glad we were doing it. Virtually all the photographs and various documents that we have we obtained from them.
Meeting and speaking with other witnesses of the time was also part of the project. Every meeting with them was very interesting and often became emotional. These people didn't always tell us exactly what we needed, but we were grateful for every piece of information we obtained. At first, we found a few witnesses with the help of our teacher's mother. Eventually, we met a woman, who had continued her education after school, in a shop owned by a local Jewish family. She now lives in a retirement home in Havlíčkův Brod and knows a good many people there. Thanks to her we were able to set up other meetings.
At the opening of our display at the Jihlava Jewish cemetery we met a very friendly elderly lady, who while looking through our works, recognized a distant relative of hers who had married a Pachner. Thanks to her, we established contact with another member of the family and got to know certain details which would have otherwise been lost forever.
We also had a meeting with a man who used to live in pre-war Havlíčkův Brod as a little boy. He moved to Prague along with his parents, from where he was deported to Terezín where he lived through the war. His relatives, however, weren't as lucky.
Another interesting meeting was with a woman whose father was the mayor of Německý Brod in the 1930s and ended his own life at the beginning of the war in order to protect his family from Nazi persecution. Thanks to these people we learned a lot of information about the life of Havlíčkův Brod's citizens before the war. The primary topic of our work which we had chosen at the outset, however, remained the Pachner family.
For clarity, we point out that the quotations from the correspondence and journals of the family members have been left in their original form, just as their respective authors wrote them. The grammar and syntax often do not correspond to contemporary usage. We believe, however, that the original form of these written testamonials perfectly illustrates the atmosphere of the time.
We noticed no difference between the Pachners and other families in the Německý Brod of the day. In a late 19th-century population census, however, we found a column describing the religion of the citizens. This one column contained something that made the Pachners differ from most of the others. There it stood: "Religion: Israelite." This one word was all that made them unlike the others. Other than this, they lived a perfectly normal life, just like millions of others. They considered themselves Czech and their practice of Judaism was rather tepid. The children of Josef and Barbora were taught religion at school, but never practiced it in adulthood—they were atheists, which is proved, for example, by the 1921 census records. Their peaceful lives remained as such until the coming of World War II....
Barbora was born June 16, 1841 in Bělá, near Ledeč nad Sázavou. She was called Betty within the family, and this name is also what the records of the Německý Brod census contain. Barbora married Josef Pachner, with whom she had seven children—six sons and a daughter: Arnošt, Artur, Pavel, Alma, Hugo, Oskar, and František. Two maids usually helped maintain this large household. Barbara had diabetes and died from it on March 15, 1909. She is supposedly buried at the Havlíčkův Brod Jewish cemetery, but despite a thorough search, we were never able to find her grave.
Josef and Barbora Pachner
Barbora's mother, Anna Taussig, born Pentlář, was born on March 27, 1812 in Nový Bydžov. In her later years, she lived with her daughter in Německý Brod, and her grandson, František Langer, recalls in his book "As It Was..." that she lived in a little room with a window facing the courtyard. He also remembers an old-fashioned chest that was in the room in which she kept large sheets of "magronky," sweets made of nuts and almonds, which she offered to the children. She died on May 12, 1892 and is buried at the Havlíčkův Brod Jewish cemetery. Barbora's father, Samuel Taussig, was born on February 20, 1803, in Ledeč nad Sázavou, but that is all we know of his life.
Barbora had five siblings—two sisters and three brothers. Her sisters, Růžena and Johanna, were significant to us. Růžena's married name was Langer, and she lived in Prague with her husband, a merchant. She lost her sense of hearing in her youth and avoided the public ever since. She had three sons—Jiří, Josef, and František. Josef committed suicide just before being deported to Terezín. Jiří and František became known as writers. František was also a doctor and a member of the Czechoslovak legion in Russia. Both of them escaped the Nazis by leaving the country. Jiří, the author of the well known book, "Nine Gateways," fell ill during his long and complicated journey to Palestine by boat along the Danube river, and died of his illness in Tel Aviv in 1943. During the war, František lived in France and in Great Britain and worked as a literary advisor after returning in 1945, although his works were banned after 1948. He died in Prague in 1965, and is, among other things, the author of a well-known play called "A Camel Through the Needle's Eye," and the memoir "As It Was." The chapter about "Uncle Kolman" and other relatives of the latter was a great source of information regarding the Pachner family for us. The other sister, Johanna, who had married a Rosenfeld, was a spectacular cook and the manager of an Jewish girls' orphanage in Prague. She was the grandmother of philosopher and mathematician Arnošt Kolman, who was also known as a great admirer of the USSR, despite being imprisoned for over three years after 1948. He didn't recognize his errors until late in his life, when he wrote the book "Blinded Generation." Arnošt Kolman died in Sweden in 1979.
Children of Josef and Barbora—left: Oskar, Arnošt, Alma,
František, Artur, Pavel (kneeling) and Hugo, about the year 1882
Josef Pachner was born on March 19, 1848 in Němčice near Ledeč nad Sázavou. We know very little of his childhood. His mother, Barbora Pachner, born Bretischová, died on October 31, 1896 at the age of 75 in Německý Brod. Her mobility was apparently reduced in her later years, as she spent all day in a large, customized armchair. František Langer writes in his memoirs that she was a very peculiar and emphatic woman. She wore a large hat and had a bit of a beard. Langer recalled a sentence that she used to comfort a poor Jew: "Poverty is of no shame, of the rich I defame the name."2
Little Josef Langer, František's brother, reportedly shouted this sentence to the surprise and entertainment of the neighbors when walking downtown. Barbora is buried in the Havlíčkův Brod Jewish cemetery. Josef's father, Menachem Pachner, came from Damírov, a little village near Zbýšov, in the Kutná Hora district. We were unable to find any further records of his life.
2 Langer, F., As It Was, Prague 2003, p. 215
Josef Pachner is known to have been one of the owners of the building at 104 Dolní Street in Německý Brod as early as 1879. It is a two-floor row house with the longer side facing the street and a large hall on the second floor. The baroque central part of the building was built in the 18th century, although the facade of the building was altered in the latter half of the 19th century.
Postcards advertising the firm of Josef Pachner, 1912;
Pachner and Stein family members are standing in front
The building partly burnt down along with eight other buildings in the street in 1843.
"It was a large house with huge staircases and rooms inside, a light shaft, courtyard gallery, and high attic... It had two floors, one facing the courtyard, the other facing the street."—František Langer's description of the building from his "As It Was" memoir.3 In the ground floor of the building, there was a drug store and a liquor outlet, both of which can be seen on preserved photographs. Barrels of wine and other beverages were stored on the courtyard behind the building. The seemingly very large building was fully utilized..
House No. 104 on Dolni Street in Německy Brod, summer, early 20th century
The owners of this building were among the municipal citizens with the right to brew beer, and could therefore buy shipments of beer from the city's brewery. The greatest attraction of the house is that between 1836 and 1839, Bedřich Smetana lived in the building during his high school studies. A memorial plaque on the building describes his residence there. At the time, it was owned by a Mrs. Juliana Billanská. The building changed hands rather swiftly—Josef Pachner owned one half from 1879, while the other belonged to Eduard Stein. Josef Pachner's son Oskar bought Stein's share in 1915 and in 1922, he bought the remaining half from his father to become the sole owner. He owned the building until his death in 1937, when Pavel and Ida Pachner bought the building in an auction. After the arrival of the Germans on March 15, 1939, they pretended to sell it to their in-laws. Because of the date of the purchase, the building was confiscated during the war anyway, despite the fact that the Nuremberg laws didn't apply to the new owners.
House No. 104 on Dolni Street in Havlíčkův Brod, a current photo
Today, the building holds apartments, a clothing store, and a shop selling photographic equipment.
Josef Pachner was known mainly as a producer of rum and a Jesuit herbal liquor. According to František Langer, he was "comfortable and cavalier"—after lunch, he would often go to a café and smoke Trabuco cigars.4 The large family apparently ran into slight financial difficulties from time to time. Apart from the family's own seven children, the sons of Barbora's sister Růžena often spent
3 Langer, F., As It Was, Prague 2003, p. 215
4 Ibid, p. 219
time in Brod. Langer remembers this period: "We would sleep in various places, two to a bed and on chairs; we would eat at a very long table, the simplest and yet nutritious meals."5
Josef Pachner with children, 1918
Above left: František, Oskar, Pavel, Arnošt
Bottom left: Alma, Josef Pachner, Artur
As was customary in Jewish families, a large portion of the family's budget was spent on education. All the sons of the Pachners studied with various degrees of success for several years at the Německy Brod high school. Three of the sons, Arnošt, Artur and František, continued their studies at the University in Prague and became successful doctors.
5 Langer, F., As It Was, Prague 2003, p. 214–215
Josef was active in various fields. He was one of the founders of the Německý Brod Jewish cemetery, as well as being active in the local Jewish community. He was its president between 1903 and 1905, and he was a member of its extended leadership in 1920. At the beginning of the 20th century, he is also recorded as a member of the Německý Brod town council. He actively participated in activities organised by Sokol.
Labels from the company of Josef Pachner
Josef remarried after Barbora's death, probably in 1910. His second wife's name was Berta. She was born on November 18, 1865 in Koryčany u Kyjova. Josef and Berta Pachner lived in No. 149 Dolní Street, which is now a corner sweet shop. Josef Pachner, according to a 1921 census, tended to his trade, while Berta was a homemaker.
Josef Pachner died on March 3, 1922 in Německý Brod and was taken to Prague for cremation. He is said to be buried in Havlíčkův Brod, but we never found his grave at the Jewish cemetery. We know nothing further about Berta Pachner, except that she probably lived in Brno in 1938, and the family believed she died during the war as well—the Terezín memorial records do not include a Berta Pachner born her birth date, however.
Josef Pachner with grandchildren
Top left: Pavel, Milada, Anna, Marie, Zdenka, Jiří
Bottom left: Hanna, Hugh, Josef Pachner, Vera, Peter, Elizabeth
Arnošt Pachner painting by Alfred Justitz
Arnošt Pachner, the eldest son of Josef and Barbora, was born on November 26, 1872 in Německý Brod. He studied at the Německý Brod high school between 1882 and 1891. He was probably not among the most diligent of the class. His friend, later to become a successful writer, Josef Jahoda, remembers in his book "Tales of an Old Student" about Arnošt's frequent disputes with someone he refers to as "Professor H.," a latin teacher who didn't particularly like him. Arnošt reportedly decided to pay this disagreeable teacher back by ordering several copies of every edition of "Ottův slovník naučný," a sizeable encyclopedia. The professor took delivery of several heavy cartons, and he refused to pay for them, not having ordered any. He started looking for the culprit of this prank, which didn't pose much of a problem once he obtained the order form—he recognised Arnošt's handwriting, which the latter forgot to change....
House No. 89 in Německy Brod
Arnošt and his younger brother Artur were inseparable and they did a lot of things together. They both loved science and had a large collection of shells at home, labeled with their Latin names. They were also devoted beekeepers and supplied their relatives with honey. Both brothers were avid readers from childhood and this love of reading lasted a lifetime. Arnošt was a year and a half older than Artur and intentionally failed a year near the end of high school so that he could graduate high school and study medicine at Karlově University in Prague with his brother, which they both achieved. Arnošt specialised as a dentist at the end of his studies. His office was on the second floor of his house, number 89 on the Německý Brod main square. He bought this building on January 10, 1906 for 32,200 Kč and modernized it that same year. The building was called the "Kadeřávkovský dům" after its previous owners. Alžběta, his daughter, became the owner of the building after the war along with her husband. It was demolished in 1977 because of its poor condition and today in its place stands an insurance company office.
Arnošt on holiday in Belgium, 1914
According to the memoirs of František Langer, Arnošt had a marvelous reputation as a doctor. He was reportedly a gentle and educated person, a lover of literature and paintings. Just like other members of the family, he financially supported budding artists (such as Jan Zrzavý, Alfréd Justitz and Jaroslav Panuška). He also was manually dexterous—he hand-crafted gold and silver jewelry. He owned a movie camera and filmed his family and the city. He enjoyed photography too. Supposedly in 1922 he treated an aching tooth of writer Jaroslav Hašek, who resided in Lipnice nad Sázavou at the time. He is also remembered by painter Jan Zrzavý in his memoirs.6
6 Jan Zrzavý Remembers, Prague 1971, p. 42–44.
Arnošt married Elsa Reich, born July 29, 1879 in Všestary of Hradce Králové. They had three children, Anna, Marie and Alžběta.
Arnošt and his wife Elsa and daughters Anna, Marie, and Alžběta, about 1912
Anna was born on January 31, 1901 and died March 8, 1925, probably from pneumonia. She attended the Německý Brod high school and started medical studies at Karlově University in Prague.
Marie was born on May 24, 1902 in Německý Brod and died on August 5, 1995 in Prague. She attended the Německý Brod high school from 1913 through 1922. She studied at the College of Business in Prague, but she did not complete her studies as she married a dentist named Ota Egert, who had a dental office in Neměcký Brod till 1935 at 1 Dolní Street. The entire family moved to Prague after that. During the war, she divorced her husband in order to save their son and daughter and re-married him after the war. Marie survived Terezín—she was deported there on transport DT on January 10, 1944 from Prague. Her thirteen-year-old daughter and one-and-a-half-year-old son were painstakingly looked after by her husband. This we know from rolled up messages Marie and Ota exchanged with the help of the Czech guards. In Terezín, Marie worked in a slate-flaking workshop. Ota Egert, MD., volunteered in May 1945 in Terezín to help with a typhus epidemic. He contracted a typhus infection which he didn't get rid of for some time afterwards.
Alžběta was born on March 11, 1909. She attended high school and later sold furnishings in the house of her father. She married a doctor of law, Vladimír Salač. Alžběta also survived Terezín—she was deported from Prague on January 25, 1943, and sadly, her son Ivan, born July 11, 1942, was deported with her. Fortunately for them, they avoided the fate of most Czech Jews and both lived to see the liberation of Terezín. Elizabeth died on November 18, 1973.
Population census, February 1921
Advertisement from contemporary press
Trade in fancy goods at No. 89
Letter that Marie Egertová's husband sent from Terezin
Star from a coat worn by Marie Egertová
Arnošt and his wife were forced to leave Německý Brod after March, 1939. They moved to Prague, where both their married daughters lived at the time. Moving must have been very painful for them, according to the letters they wrote at the time. For example, on December 26, 1939, Arnošt wrote a letter to his friend Josef Jahoda, saying: "We were forced to move out of Brod. You know very well that we've lived and grown up there in five generations, most of whom you have personally known—both grandmothers, the parents, us, our children and our grandson. We would never leave Brod of our own free will, even though the children now live in Prague. The fact that we have been forced to makes it all the more bitter. You can easily imagine what it means to leave the warmth of your home, where you got used to every trinket and trifle, which you have obtained with love over the years. I don't even mention the material damage this causes us."7
Arnošt in his dental office
Arnošt's medical suitcase
Arnošt and his wife Elsa
Arnošt and Elsa, of course, had no idea that Prague would not be the last stop. The AU1 transport on May 15, 1942 deported them to Terezín. From there, they were deported with the BW transport on October 19, 1942 to Treblinka, Poland, where they both apparently died in the gas chambers on the day of their arrival. How wrong Arnošt was when he wrote in a letter smuggled out of Terezín just before being deported to Poland that "Poland is a country too, and it is possible to live there as well...."
before transport to Terezin,
From left: Anna (granddaughter), Arnošt,
Elsa, Marie (daughter)
7 MZA Brno—Archives of Havlíčkův Brod, Estate of Josefa Jahody, kart. 2 (Josefa Jahody's letters from friends of his youth from Havlíčkův Brod, 1913–1946).
Artur Sokol in costume
Artur Pachner was born on March 24, 1874 in Německý Brod. He attended the local high school from 1883 to 1891 and then he studied medicine at Karlově University in Prague. He became a dentist, but also was accredited in other disciplines (general practice, pediatrician, internist and laryngologist). He further broadened his education by studying in Berlin. He was a successful doctor and used many modern methods in his work. He had great understanding of people and served them with great devotion. He was scientifically active, speaking at medical conventions (e.g., in Poznan, Poland, 1933); he wrote scientific publications, such as articles about healing wounds using colloidal silver, metallurgy and the science of welding metals, etc. The significance of his work can be seen in the Ottův Encyclopedia—his name is in the 1937 appendix to the encyclopedia. He liked to read and translated works such as Bernhard Kellerman's novel "Ninth of November."
Arnošt and Artur Pachner, notification of graduation
He was also very fond of animals. He kept at home a small alligator, which grew until it had to be given away, probably to a zoo. He and his brother Arnošt owned a large dog who once jumped at the dean of the university during a walk along the Prague promenade. Fortunately, this all ended well.
Artur had intended to open a private dentist's office in Prague, but since this was very expensive, he settled in Chrudim in 1899. During World War I he served as a doctor the military hospital in Vysoké Mýto and reportedly saved many young men from being dragged off to the front lines.
Print ads of the day
In or around the year 1903, Artur married Gabriela Schillerová, born March 13, 1881 in Polná near Jihlavy. Gabriela was called Ella within the family. She reigned in the kitchen, was a skilled cook and would never let anyone else help, not even her own daughter. She had a housekeeper to help her, but she was only allowed to peel the potatoes and wash the dishes. Ella was reportedly uptight and didn't trust people. During their marriage, Artur and Ella only had one daughter, Milada. Their grandson Martin remembers Ella as a loving grandmother who flooded him with presents.
Gabriela Schillerová, wife of Artur
Ella's parents, Ludvík Schiller and Anna, born Hallerová, owned a shop and a tannery in Polná. They also had two other sons, Viktor (a lawyer who lived in Prague and died along with his wife and his son in the Lodz ghetto) and Hugo (who was president of a bank and survived the war in France). The Schiller family was more religious, but in the light of the "Hilsneriad" (the aftermath of the Hilsner's assassination), Anna wanted their granddaughter baptised (although this never happened). She was, however, said to be very pleased that Milada married a man of non-Jewish origin. She had no idea back then that this would soon save her granddaughter's life. Ludvík Schiller died during World War I. Anna, Ella's mother, was an educated and very capable woman; she played chess and kept her husband's business and finances. She was born on September 19, 1857 in Kaliště in Humpolce. She was deported to Terezín at the age of 84 (transport AAr from Prague on July 16, 1942) and then to Treblinka with the BW transport on October 19, 1942. Before leaving Terezín, she wrote a farewell letter to her daughter and son-in-law. The letter, dated October 14, 1942, was preserved as a copy in Artur Pachner's journal:8
I hear that the transport from the countryside is to come soon. I feel terrible that you will have to suffer this terror as well. I would like at least to be together with you. There are two ways for me—for the first I lack courage, so I must take the other with everyone else.
I ask only one thing of you. If you bring any food with you, give something small to Fanda. They were very kind to me, all of them. You will see for yourself how things go here.
I have been in the transport for two days now. Might we already be there, even though it must be worse there than it is here. You will learn that Ida has died. No need to be sorry for her.
I will write you if I am able. I would like to hear of the Skálas, but I cannot.
A kiss and farewell, your mother
The worst thing is that I have no warm clothing. I am worried as to how you clothed yourselves. Everyone does it wrong. You must be very careful with the food here, especially at first, before you accustom yourselves. One could see a lot of suffering here, will it ever end? The weather is bad and who knows where they are taking us this time. If I at least had warm shoes... but why speak of it.
House No. 134/1 in Chrudim
After the coming of the Germans, the Pachner's house at 134/1 Ressel's Square, which they owned since 1905, was confiscated. They then subleased with a Jewish family in Chrudim. Before her departure for Terezín, their daughter Milada came to visit them to say goodbye, in secret, under the cover of the night. She could not do so during the day, because as a Jew, she wasn't allowed to leave Prague. According to the witnesses, Artur long believed that he would avoid deportation and that as a capable doctor and the discoverer of numerous new techniques, would save himself aiding people of Jewish descent.
Artur and Ella were deported on December 5, 1942 on the CF transport from Pardubice to Terezín. They stayed there for a year. Artur kept a journal in Terezín and was doing a sociological study on the Jews. This attests to his great courage, because if his notes had been found, he would have been cruelly punished (imprisonment, cane beatings, removal to the Small Fortress of Terezín, death...). He wrote with a pencil stub he found, in small notebooks made of cut wrapping paper. Thanks to the Czech guards, he managed to smuggle all of this out, into Prague. Milada held these after the war and wanted to publish them,
8 Pachner, A., "Terezín teach ...," in: Sociological Review, Volume XIII, No. 4, 1947, p. 205–206.
but never managed to do so. A part of the journal was printed in 1947, in the Sociological Review. The text is proof that the people on the outside had no idea what was happening in Terezín and what was coming to them next. It also depicts the terrible everyday life in the ghetto. The elderly had much more trouble enduring the humiliation, the cold, the illnesses, filth, and hunger. Artur wanted to help out in Terezín as a doctor, but wasn't allowed to because of his age. So instead he performed his duties in secret, risking even more cruel punishment. His journal contains, for example, a note on how he received a gift of two raw potatoes for advice he gave an ill fellow prisoner—given the conditions, this was obviously a great gift!
"On July 13, 1942, our dear mother, aged 85, was deported. No one knows where to, hearsay tells us it was Terezín. We weren't allowed to attend this funeral of the living, so we wept secretly, mainly so that we wouldn't further hurt each other with our pains.
On December 2, 1942, my wife and I were also deported. The hope that we might reunite with mother in Terezín to bear our fate together was consolation to us, only for us to be bitterly disappointed. The registry office told us that number AA V 958—our darling mother—was deported from Terezín on October 19, 1942, under a new number, BW 1251, in unpleasant weather, without luggage and poorly clad, further "nach dem Osten" [to the east]. Where and whether this number was still alive, they didn't know. No records.
In Terezín a good friend of our family gave us three small, quickly scribbled, crumpled shreds of paper, where the poor old lady gave us her goodbyes."9
"It is easy to write records, when we have a fountain pen, a desk, paper and light. And when we have a bit of privacy. I have but a tiny piece of pencil salvaged at the scrap heap, a bit of crumpled wrapping paper from a package from home, a 70-cm wide, 1-m 80-cm long cot in a dark corner of an attic paved with soft bricks, the red dust of which soils the bed, clothing, footwear, and body. Only a small skylight lets in a bit of daylight. We shine with a twenty candle lightbulb so that we don't trip on the beams. They pretentiously call this human mew lodging. There are thirty of us, stashed in several square meters. Men and women, all together. We live, eat, sleep, and die on our cots, pressed against each other with no aisles. Lucus a non lucendo, they aren't filled with straw, rather coarse, lumped wool, soaked with urine and excrement and filled with lice. The legacy of my predecessor, who has been swallowed by the crematorium yesterday. There was a time—unbelievably long ago—when I had all that I now so sorely miss. Those few thousand words, with which I now spend weeks, I would have put on paper in a single day. I even had a typewriter, Underwood no. 5.
9 Pachner, A., op. cit., p. 204
"Those who haven't seen the misery of this inferno, will hardly be able to visualize it. I recall that in the depths of the Abyss, where nothing lives and nothing grows, I spotted to my great surprise a measly lump of pale green moss, living off the warmth and light of a lightbulb. It lived, just like we "live." And because I live, I open a vent to my despair and I try to write. I do not see what I wrote in the dark. From time to time, a hungry, scrambling pillbug falls on my head—everything here is hungry—in belief that it is night, the time to feast. Hundreds of fleas are jumping on the floor and crawling up my body. I had to push my way to the skylight every now and then in order to check what I have written. The light of a weak lightbulb hung far away did not suffice. My frostburned fingers sting—I could barely hold the pen. God only knows how my wife managed to obtain a kettle of warm water to warm our hands.
"In this hell, densely inhabited by nervous, hunger-crazed people, infested with sicknesses and ailments through and through, one in ten of whom bear the seal of the oncoming end in their faces, I seek to order my thoughts..."10
Artur recalled in his memoirs of his close friend Dr. Jaroslav Pesek, Director of prewar Chrudim Magistrate:
10 Pachner, A., op. cit., p. 206–207.
Artur and Ella were both put on the DS transport to Auschwitz on December 18, 1943. Apparently the usual selection wasn't performed with this particular transport. Both ended up in the so-called "family camp" in Birkenau (the Birkenau work camp near Nová Beruň), where Czech Jews from Terezín were concentrated as early as September 1943. This camp was intended to play the theater that might be needed in case of Red Cross inspections (similar to what happened in June 1944 in Terezín). The conditions here were somewhat better than in the rest of Auschwitz, although the death rate was enormous nonetheless (illnesses, hunger, exhaustion...).
picture painted in Terezin by painter
(1882 Prague–1944 Auschwitz)
Artur died, apparently of exhaustion, some time in late January 1944. In March, 1944, nearly all of the September arrivals were gassed in a single night (March 8)—women, men, children; a total of 3,792 people! During the first half of July 1944, this "family camp" was fully liquidated—nearly 6,500 elderly or unhealthy people and children were murdered in the gas chambers and 3,500 work-capable men and women were sent to various places. Ella died in the gas chamber. According to witnesses, she was fairly healthy and strong. Given different circumstances, she would have had a high chance of survival.
Arthur and Gabriela Pachner
Milada, the sole daughter of Artur and Ella, was born on November 21, 1904 in Chrudim. She died on March 28, 1997 in Arizona, USA. She attended the Vysoké Mýto high school (1915–1919) and then to École des hautes études sociales et politiques (Institute of Social and Political Studies) in Paris. She graduated in 1926 and obtained her diploma. She then worked in Prague, at the Ministry of Health, and soon became a writer—the author of women's novels and children's tales—a playwright and a journalist. She also translated from French to Czech. Her father helped with certain topics when she wrote. For example, they co-published the theater play Cherubíno (1937), which deals with inheritance. She wasn't allowed to publish her works during the occupation because of her descent.
She married Jakub Skála, a doctor of law, in 1932 and lived in Prague. They had two children, a son and a daughter. Thanks to their preserved written correspondence, we know that Milada sent food parcels to her mother and father in Terezín and Auschwitz. Her son remembers that sending these parcels was an daily ritual. He also remembers buying a hundred or two of red and blue boxes of appropriate dimensions in a Prague-Košíře wholesale store. Some of these boxes remained unused when the war was over. The chance that the packages reached their rightful owners was slight... Milada only learned this after the war. Other members of the family sent similar packages to their relatives.
Thanks to her mixed marriage, Milada survived the war, and as one of very few within the family, she never even had to endure Terezín. At the beginning of the war, she had a hideout prepared in the woods, near their country home in Jílové near Prague, but she never made use of it. Thanks to her husband's contacts, she owned coats both with and without the Star, as well as papers with and without the "J,"
Milada children Martin and Lucia
some with her own name, some with another name, and she used these for the entire period of occupation according to a carefully thought out plan. She didn't take walks and hardly ever left the apartment alone. Her son Martin remembers an incident about when they were returning from the doctor's office where he was being vaccinated. He felt sick in the tram and vomited. His mother had to show her papers, and luckily had the right ones with her—without the "J," as Jews were no longer allowed to use trams at the time and getting caught would have had tragic consequences....
Milada's husband was very brave. He didn't divorce her and as a punishment, he was deported to a labor camp somewhere in Upper Silesia. He escaped in January 1945 and went into hiding. The suffering and mental stress during the occupation impacted his health and he died in 1963. Thanks to her own contacts, Milada obtained a paper towards the end of the war "proving" that she carried an infectious disease and made sure the apartment smelled of disinfectants anytime the Gestapo was about to visit. The Germans were beginning to feel afraid, so they were less diligent in performing their duties, which allowed Milada to escape them. She left the country with the children after her husband's death, in 1966.
Milada Skálová says family friend Josefa Jahody gave her instructions on how to
send packets of food to the family at Terezín and Auschwitz-Birkenau
Pavel Pachner was born on February 20, 1876, in Německý Brod. He attended the Německý Brod high school from 1887 to 1890. He took over his father's drug store, "The Black Dog Drugstore," as well as running a shop with photographic equipment and a fuel station. The drugstore had an advertisement at the local cinema: "Paints, lacquers, varnishes—all the door requires. The Black Dog Drugstore, Dolní Street" After his brother Oskar's death in 1937, Pavel became the owner of the house at 104 Dolní Street as well as a liquor and wine store despite not being a drinker himself. He cultivated the business and, among other things, he supplied confectioneries all over the country with fruit syrups and rum.
To this day some people remember Pavel's store in Havlíčkův Brod—they describe it as a rather small room with a black counter standing in the middle and black shelves in the back. The upper shelves had glass fronts behind which bottles were displayed. Loyal customers always said that before Christmas they would get a bottle of rum as a freebie.
Labels from Pavel Pachner's company
Pavel liked to spoil his grandchildren; he would give them sweets from large glass jars he kept in the store. He had two daughters with his wife Ida, born June 27, 1878, Zdeňka and Hannu. Ida's maiden name was Morgenstern and she came from Prague. She wore her beautiful, long hair tied up in a bun. Milena, her granddaughter, recalls that she cut it short before her departure to Terezín.
Zdeněk and Hannu, daughters of Pavel and Ida
Ida and Pavel Pachner
voucher for shoes,
Their daughter Zdeňka was born on March 13, 1904. She attended the Německý Brod high school between the years 1918 and 1925. She then studied at the Faculty of Arts in Brno and became a teacher of Czech and French languages at the Jihlava high school. She married Břetislav Kovařík, a biology teacher, and had two sons with him. They had to leave Jihlava during the war and live in Třebíč. Just like her sister, Zdeňka divorced her husband during the war and was deported to Terezín with the DT transport on January 10, 1944, where she worked at the children's shelter. She, too, remained there until the end of the war. She died July 7, 1978.
Call to a transport to
The administrative order to inform you that you have to report on employment status—unconditionally—in the Sunday, the 9th January at 6 am in Prague 1, ul Haštalská 20, 4 floor. Jewish Council of Prague, Jewish business headquarters.
Their daughter Hannu was born on February 12, 1908. She attended the Německý Brod high school between 1918 and 1926 before going on to study pharmacology at Karlově University in Prague. She never finished her studies, because she married Bohumil Dymeš, a doctor of law, who worked at Neuern's law firm in Německý Brod once he completed his studies. After the wedding, they moved to Mostu—the Czech mayor of Mostu was Dr. Dymeš. After Germany's annexation of the Sudetenland they had to move to Prague.
Hannu writes her daughter Milena Dymešová at Theresienstadt
Health and kisses
Milena's daughter writes her mother in Theresienstadt
My dear Mama,
She divorced her husband during the war in order to save her daughter Milena and was deported to Terezín on transport DT on January 10, 1944 from Prague. In Terezín, she worked at the pharmacy till the end of the war. For the entire fourteen months of separation, Hannu kept her connection with her daughter alive through letters. Letters coming in and out of Terezín were, however, very austere and impersonal because they were censored before they were let through, and they had to be written in German. Toward the end of the war, the Gestapo even arrested Dr. Dymeš and little Milena was in danger of being "reeducated" in Germany. Fortunately, her uncle became her guardian and she remained with him till the end of the war. Hannu died on September 19, 1989.
Blanket by Milena sent as a gift to mother in Theresienstadt
Confirmation of Hannu Dymešovou,
Jewish government of Terezin
The sisters did not meet their parents in Terezín, however. Pavel and Ida left Německý Brod for Prague in 1939 and were deported from there to Terezín with the AT transport on May 7, 1942. They were immediately sent with the AX transport, on May 9, 1942, to the Sobibor extermination camp (Poland). Their ultimate fate is unknown, but given their age, they probably died shortly after their arrival in Sobibor.
Banknotes issued in Terezín ghetto
Alma, the only daughter of Josef and Barbora, was born on June 14, 1877 in Německý Brod. She married Alois Rotter, who was born on March 16, 1878, in Čejč Hodonína and was a merchant. For a short time after the wedding, Alois and Alma lived in Německý Brod where in December 1902 they had twins, Pavel and Jiří.
Alma Rotterová, born Pachner
Alma writes to relatives in the Rožnov Radhoštěm
We have found evidence that Alma and Alois later lived in Helenín u Jihlavy in 1909, where Alois worked in a textile mill owned by Karel Löw. They moved to Brno at some point and Alois said he became the manager of a textile mill. Their son, Jiří, recalled a childhood spent in a family villa in Brno-Obřany. There was a garden in which he and his brother used to play. Miss Emilie helped Alma maintain the household. She has remembered the times spent with the Rotters for many years after the war, and says that she has never been better since her times with the Rotter family.
The Rotters later moved to Jihlava, where they lived at No. 9 on Matky Boží Street, later at no. 28. In Jihlava, Alois ran a hosiery and yarn store called "Bareta." The company manufactured knitted hats for women and children and prospered. Until 1934, the company was registered at No. 6 Mostecká Street, and at No. 15 Matky Boží Street from 1934 to 1935 and the production expanded to sweaters, gloves, etc. In 1935, the hosiery moved to No. 28 Schillerova Street (now known as Benešova Street). Bareta was probably in production till 1939. We couldn't find any further details about the company during the protectorate, even in the archives. What we know, however, is that it was confiscated from Alois based on a protectorate governmental edict.
House No. 9 in Matky Boží Street
Tomb of Alma Rotterová,
the monument with the names of Holocaust
victims from the Pachner family
Alma died on July 19, 1938 in Brno. She was cremated and is buried in Havlíčkův Brod, at the New Cemetery. There is a memorial plaque on her grave on which the names of the members of the Pachner family who died in concentration camps are engraved. This plaque was placed after the war by Marie Egert, the daughter of Arnošt Pachner.
Close relatives of Alois Rotter's family often remembered Alma. They said she was very kind and hospitable and they loved to visit her. She would always prepare their favourite treats and, in her, they found a person to confide to and ask for counsel. Even Eva Soyková, František Pachner's daughter, said that Alma was a very kind person.
Alois Rotter, Alma's husband, loved the arts. He had a great sense of humor and liked to tell jokes. The Germans confiscated his property and he had to move out of Jihlava. He was deported from Prague to Terezín by transport BG in September 1942, from where he was taken to Maly Trascianiets on September 22, 1942 by transport BN, where he probably died soon after arrival.
Pavel and Marta Rotter
Pavel Rotter was born on December 25, 1902 in Německý Brod. He was a student of the German high school in Jihlava and then the Brno law school, after which he became a lawyer. In the 30's, he apparently had an office in Polná u Jihlavy. The evidence of this is the Polná "Trades Record," which is located in the Jihlava district archives, and two postcards sent to him by his uncle Arnošt Pachner. Another written proof of his residence in Polná is his mother Alma's obituary. It is clear that Pavel Rotter lived in Polná, but we do not know his address, nor the exact dates. The archives do not contain any related information.
Postcards sent by Ernst Pachner to Pavel Rotter in Polná in Jihlava
The "Trades Record" also tells us that Pavel Rotter's main law firm was registered in Velká Bíteš, so he might have lived there for a time. Pavel and his wife Marta have been recorded in the "Reporting Record of Citizens of Other Towns" since October 15, 1933. We do not know how long they have lived at No. 209 Velká Bíteš; we only know that there was an apartment building at this address intended for government employees. Strangely, however, the branch of the Žďár nad Sázavou archive in Velké Meziříčí never mentioned that Pavel Rotter had a legal practice in Velká Bíteš at all. There is even no Rotter in the list of World War Two victims of Bíteš, which suggests that he only lived here for a short time before moving to Polná. The life of Pavel Rotter is very unclear and full of unanswered questions; it was very difficult to find accurate answers.
The only surviving photograph, which is likely
to be captured Petřík Rotter,
on his right hand is Jiří Rotter,
other men could not be identified
On August 10, 1942, Pavel Rotter was deported by the BA transport from Prague to Terezín and then by the BK transport on September 8, 1942 from Terezín to Maly Trascianiets, near Minsk, Belarus. In a pine forest nearby, Jews were shot immediately upon arrival and thrown into mass graves. Some were murdered by gas in specially altered trucks. Any hope of survival was nil. He was accompanied on the very same transports by his wife Marta, born Schnirdreher (?) on August 30, 1906, and their son Petr, born on June 26, 1935. Petr was the second youngest victim of the Holocaust from the Pachner family—he was only seven years old....
Bedřiška, Věrušky and Jiří Rotter, 1942
Jiří Rotter was born on December 25, 1902 in Německý Brod. He attended the municipal school and the German high school in Jihlava. He continued his studies at a specialised textile school in Brno and completed his specialized education in Vienna. He made his living as a fabric and textile merchant. He was a true expert in his field—his relatives and friends often asked him for advice when buying fabrics. Apart from the store in which he sold wool and yarn, he also owned an office which imported and exported raw materials for the textile trade. He traded with Switzerland, England and the Netherlands, which he also visited from time to time. He reportedly liked to remember his stay in London and the impressive-for-the-time neon signs of Piccadilly Circus. He inherited his father's love for art and owned a large collection of paintings as well as playing the violin very well.
He married on October 27, 1935. His wife Bedřicha, maiden name Konstein, came from Jihlava and was also sometimes called Freida. She was born on April 28, 1904 and was an engineer. The Rotters lived in Jihlava, at no. 9 Matky Boží Street, where they also had a shop and office, which were both confiscated by the Nazis, after which they were forced to leave Jihlava. They moved to Prague in 1939, where their daughter Věra was born on January 3, 1942. Before his deportation to Terezín, Jiří was active in the resistance against the Nazis. Since he spoke German and English very well, he translated and distributed fliers.
Trade receipts of Jiří Rotter
Věrušky Rotterov, the youngest victim of the Holocaust from the Pachner family, photos of 1942. She
perished along with her mother in October 1944 in a gas chamber in Auschwitz-Birkenau. She was 2 years and 10 months...
The entire family was deported on October 24, 1942 on the CA transport from Prague to Terezín. We know nothing about their life there. Jiří went on with the EK transport on September 28, 1944, from Terezín to Auschwitz. He survived the death march and until the liberation of the Buchenwald concentration camp (Germany), he worked in a quarry. His wife and daughter did not live to the end of the war. They both died in the gas chambers at Auschwitz-Birkenau, deported there on transport EN, which departed from Terezín on October 4, 1944.
Jiří lived in Prague after the war. He was a member of the Union of Fighters Against Fascism and helped many people who participated in the resistance during the war, such as western pilots, as well as neighbors and friends. People liked him for his kindness and equanimity. He died on November 25, 1975.
Jiří Rotter, displacement card when leaving the
concentration camp at Buchenwald, June 1945
Hugo was born on October 18, 1878 in Německý Brod. All we know of his childhood and adolescence is that he attended the local high school from 1890 to 1894. He worked at the Vienna Banking Union; apparently lived in Prague and was unmarried. He died of tuberculosis on November 3, 1906 and should be buried in Havlíčkův Brod. We haven't found his grave.
Born on January 29, 1880 in Německý Brod, he attended the local high school between 1890 and 1896. He took over his father's liquor store and became the owner of house no. 104 in 1922. He died on March 13, 1937 in Německý Brod and is buried at the New Cemetery beside the husband of his daughter, Věra.
Oskar's wife Marta was born on August 3, 1886 in Vienna. She was a relative of composer Gustav Mahler, probably his uncle's granddaughter. After her husband's death, she lived in Prague (at least till 1938), and then probably at no. 477 Letná Street in Německý Brod. We don't know about her from then on, although she was likely forced to move to Prague in 1939.
On July 6, 1942, she was deported with the AAq transport from Prague to Terezín, and from here, on July 14, with the AAx transport to Maly Trascianiets, where she apparently died immediately upon arrival.
Marta Pachner with children (left: Vera, Hugo) and a governess
Hannu (daughter of Pavel Pachner) and Hugo (right) go to masque
Oskar and Marta Pachner had a son, Hugo, and a daughter, Věra. Hugo was born on March 3, 1908 in Německý Brod. He attended the Německý Brod high school between 1918 and 1928. He studied medicine at Karlově University in Prague. The letters that his father left behind reveal that he was an attentive student but was very shy. He never married. He apparently performed his medical work in his hometown until he was forced to move to Prague after March 1939.
On November 20, 1942 he was deported on the CC transport from Prague to Terezín. He was then taken to Auschwitz on February 1, 1943, with the CU transport. His later fate is unknown.
Memorial Vera Pachner,
Pachner Marta (middle),
Věra was born on October 11, 1911 in Německý Brod. She attended the local high school between 1922 and 1928 and later became a teacher. She married Alois Pokorný, also a teacher, born on February 11, 1908, in Chotěboř. Alois wasn't subject to the Nuremberg Laws and Věra survived the war thanks to him. She lived at No. 284 Žižkova Street in Brod, later at No. 1431. They had no children. They were often involved in cultural events in the city.
In the fall of 1944, Alois was imprisoned in labor camps in Postoloprty u Loun and in Čakovice near Prague. These camps were intended for half-Jews and the spouses of Jews. According to the list of Havlíčkův Brod Holocaust victims in the Proceedings of the National Resistance of Havlíčkův Brod, Věra went through a similar camp in Hagibor, Prague. She was taken there on October 23, 1944 and continued to Terezín from there on February 4, 1945, where she lived to see the liberation.
After the war, Alois became a teacher at an eleven-year middle and high school in Brod and died on January 18, 1961. Věra outlived him by 29 years; she died on October 6, 1990. She published her memories of the years of German occupation in the Proceedings of the National Resistance of Havlíčkův Brod.
11 Before the war Hagibor (in the Prague-Strašnice) was part of the sports-recreational area, which belonged to the Prague Jewish community. During the war he went to play here for Jewish children, as access to other courses was banned. At the end of the war, the space was used as a transport business internment camp for Jewish citizens, and was a transfer station to Theresienstadt.
"As soon as it became clear who is and who isn't legally a Jew, the oppression rapidly intensified. We weren't allowed to leave the city premises and we had an eight o'clock curfew. We were excluded from all public corporations, even the crematorium. We were banned from the cultural venues, public rooms, cinemas, theaters, study halls, libraries, sports facilities and public orchards. In Havlíčkův Brod, this ban was issued in 1941. The time of day we were allowed to shop was also set from 3 p.m. till 5 p.m. that year. Most of the supplies had already been mostly sold.12
"We should have, and were sometimes forced to, hand in all our garments that weren't most basic necessities—most importantly, furs. We also had to hand in all our medical equipment, typewriters and sewing machines, cars, motorcycles, bicycles, recorders, musical instruments, jewelry, gold, silver and art, sports equipment and radio receivers. The Jews were allowed only limited contact with the public, we were not allowed to walk or go to the barber. Students were first banned from universities, high schools and municipal schools, and eventually even from public schools, and citizens later could not even go out in general.13
Alois Pokorny, imprisoned in Postoloprty,
Alois Pokorny, imprisoned in Postoloprty,
"On August 10, 1939, they ordered all the Jews of Havlíčkův Brod to move to Prague. About ten families that have lived in town for generations were ousted. About 120 outcasts remained in Brod. We were constantly being harassed and threatened; we had to undergo several so-called registrations and medical examinations, the purpose of which we had no clue about. We were constantly being moved into smaller and less comfortable lodgings. The yellow Stars were ordered in 1941, this was meant to be an official defamation, but was more importantly a terror. We had no reason to be ashamed—we only had reason to fear. An unmarked Jew would blend in with a crowd and would never arouse any unwanted attention. Now he would be an outlaw for Germans and a menace to his Czech acquaintances, as greeting or talking to him would be a sort of demonstration, and would be punished in the Aryan fight, which fed off of similar incidents. Walking unmarked was mortally dangerous. This is how Mrs. Švestka of Chotěboř died—she went for water without her Star. She was revealed, deported to a concentration camp and within three weeks, both husband and son knew that mommy was dead. In Prague, suspicious individuals would be stopped and their papers checked. Marked non-Aryans would be searched thoroughly—their purses and suitcases included. Woe betide them if anything was out of order. Almost anything could be out of order. Newspapers that Jews weren't allowed to read, a core of an apple that they weren't allowed to have, a cigarette butt. Such an offence would bring on the concentration camp and a gruesome, inhuman death.14
"In 1944, the government Commissioner Münzberger ordered that the Havlíčkův Brod Jewish Cemetery be closed and a playground for Hitler's Youth be set up in its place."15
12 Pokorná, V., "Persecution on Racial Grounds" in: Havlíčkův Brod in
the National Liberation Movement, Havlíčkův Brod 1946, p. 180.
13 Ibid, p. 180-181.
14 Ibid, p. 181.
15 Ibid, p. 182.
František Pachner in 1952
Bozena Pachner, wife of František, 1952
František, the youngest son of Josef and Barbora, was born on January 21, 1882 in Německý Brod, where he also attended the high school from 1892 to 1900 before going on to the Faculty of Medicine of Karlově University in Prague. After his graduation, he took up work at Leopold's Gynecology Clinic in Dresden. He also worked at the Brno maternity hospital, where he became interested in the difficult job of the midwives, for whom he later published a textbook at the request of the healthcare minister entitled "Textbook for Childbirth Assistants" and founded a school for their education.
He came to Ostrava in 1911 as a specialist gynecologist. Three years later, he became the head physician of the Slezská Ostrava hospital. World War I broke out shortly thereafter, and since many of the area's doctors were drafted into military service, he became the only doctor for miles around who could use a scalpel!
He married Božena, born Sovadinová, on February 3, 1912, thanks to whom he survived the Second World War, as she wasn't of Jewish descent. Božena was born on April 2, 1886. She came from Brno-Jundrov. She was a teacher briefly, when single, but then became a homemaker. They had two children, Petr and Eva.
Petr and Eva Pachner
After the establishment of Czechoslovakia, the Slezská Ostrava hospital converted to a women's obstetric division. In these new conditions, his work was very successful. He developed new therapeutic and nursing procedures, he trained many doctors at the division, some of whom eventually became well known head consultants on their own. He is also partly responsible for the establishment of the Home for Abandoned Women and Children in 1923, which later became The First Nursing Institute of Masaryk. Around this time, he also wrote a book about the issue of female infertility.
While researching František's activities, we also found a record in the Appendices to the Otto's Encyclopedia from 1937.
In 1932, František and Božena bought a villa in Ostrava, on Blahoslavova Street, and lived there until 1938. Immediately after the German occupation, František was deprived of his head consultancy as a non-Aryan, he lost his property and moved, along with his family, from Ostrava to Valašské Meziříčí, where he lived for a time, in something like a toolshed.
Apparently this saved his life at first, because barely any of the Jews deported in October 1939 from Ostrava to the east, to Nisko nad Sanem, survived to the end of the war. After that, they built a house in Zlín in Božena's name and spent the war there. He met old friends there as well as many new people who visited him and helped him.
Arnošt and František Pachner with their wives
Ex libris, designed for František Pachner
On October 12, 1944, however, he too was called upon to go to the Hagibor concentration camp in Prague, which was a transfer station on the way to Terezín. He was very lucky though, he had diabetes and contracted influenza in the camp, his state of health was very bad. He wrote to his friend, Josef Jahoda, in a letter on September 12, 1945:
"In October, I could no longer defend myself and had to go to the Hagibor concentration camp (for Jews of mixed marriages). They released me after 12 days for my poor health. It is unbelievable, but the local SS shook his head above my case and let me go. They wanted me to go back there in December, but I refused and I think that was a good decision. They dragged them all off to Terezín and I doubt I would ever come back."16
František Pachner, confirmation of imprisonment
16MZA Brno—SOkA Havlíčkův Brod, Estate of Josefa Jahody cards. 2 (Josefa Jahody letters from friends of his youth from Havlíčkův Brod, 1913–1946).
He was more or less in hiding until the end of the war and every doorbell ring must have been terrible for him. He was the only one of the Pachner siblings who remained. He lost a great majority of his relatives during the war and probably never knew exactly where they died. In the letter cited above, he also writes:
"Of my brothers and their wives as well as most of my relatives I have but bad or the worst tidings. My brothers and their wives have apparently all perished. They disappeared in Poland and we know nothing of any of them but Artur, of whose death we are certain. Of other relatives, the cousins, I do not even write, as I doubt you know them. Nearly all of them perished. I haven't yet made the full count, but I already know that there are about 27 dead in my closest family."17
Josefa Jahody tells friend František about
the death of his brother Artur
After the war, František refused the position of head consultant of the Obstetrics and Gynecology clinic as a professor offered by the dean of Masaryk's University in Brno. He said he felt too old for this demanding task. He taught at the Faculty of Medicine in Brno and established nurseries in Luhačovice and near Valašské Meziříčí. He wrote articles for newspapers and medical magazines; he wrote a textbook for midwives and a book on female functional sterility. He published several books, including "Who is I. F. Semelweis" and "For the Lives of Mothers." He looked after the grandchildren, worked on the garden and he often met with his cousin, František Langer, who remembers him in As It Was.
His wife unexpectedly fell ill in 1964 and died shortly thereafter. This hit František so hard that he followed her less than a month later, on July 27.
Their son Petr was born on April 12, 1913. He studied medicine and completed his education just before the war. He then took up work in the Zlín hospital as an intern at the hygienic station, as the the Nuremberg laws didn't permit the leadership to allow him contact with patients. He married Marie Waldek on July 19, 1941, in Zlín.
Petr Pachner and his wife Marie, 1943
In 1944, being of mixed blood, he was deported to the Postoloprty labor camp, where he worked for a year. He escaped the camp on April 4, 1945 and remained in hiding in Zlín till the end of the war. He never spoke much of this unpleasant period in his life.
After the war, he worked in Ostrava as the head of the hygiene and occupational diseases division at the County Hygienic Station till 1963. From 1963 he worked in Prague and after the regime loosened in 1968, he got a job at the "World Labor Office" and worked in Burma for a year and a half. The significance of his work can be seen in the fact that Czech occupational medicine conventions are held in his name (Pachner's Days of Occupational Medicine), the most recent of which, year XXXII, took place in May 2007, in Mladá Boleslav.
Petr Pachner (his full title was Doc. MUDr. Petr Pachner Csc.) was active till his death on October 26, 1978, at the County Hygienic Station of the Central-Bohemia county in Prague.
Eva, their daughter, was born in Ostrava on November 18, 1917. She studied at Karlově University in Prague until November 17, 1939, when the universities of the Bohemia-Moravia protectorate were closed. In order not to be sent to work in the Reich, she began a midwife course at a school in Pardubice. After she completed her education there; she worked as a midwife in Hradec Králové. As her father was a Jew, however, she was no longer allowed to work there, so she moved to Prague to work in a private sanatorium run by Dr. Záhorovský, who showed the courage of employing her despite her descent.
Petr Pachner, proof of imprisonment
Eva was spared the concentration camps by diphtheria, which she contracted in 1944. Doctors she knew maintained her as a bearer of the disease in hospitals, first in Prague (at the Bulovka hospital) and later back home in Zlín.
After the war she completed her medical education and became a physician specializing in obstetrics and gynecology. She married Otta Soyka, MD, a hematologist, in 1946 and had two sons with him. She was active in Jaroměř for a while, then was an assistant of Karl Klaus, MD, at the Obstetrics and Gynecological Clinic of the First Medical Faculty of Karlově University in Prague, and finally moved to the Zlín hospital along with her husband. From 1964 to 1968, she lived and worked in Kladno. Since 1968 she lives in Switzerland with all her family.
World War II claimed the lives of 6 million European Jews. Nearly 80 thousand victims came from Bohemia and Moravia. Men, women, children, the old, the young... Among these empty numbers, there are also the fourteen members of "our" family, the Pachner family of Havlíčkův Brod. This is but a drop in an ocean of marred lives, but better a drop than nothing. How many Holocaust victims do you know by name? There must have been people in your vicinity as well, people who have done nothing, who have hurt nobody and yet, they disappeared never to be seen again... Look for them! Remember them! Each of the six million deceased had a name, a face and a story....
There are nine of us and we are all different, but share a common goal: to investigate the fates of the Havlíčkův Brod Pachner family. We want to show people that even modern history, the history of the 20th century, can conceal such atrocities, terror and humiliation committed against human beings. I refer to World War II and what we call the Holocaust.
The greatest problem of the entire project is most probably time. Not one of us expected the work involved to take so long and could include so many different presentations (expositions, articles, the panel, the brochure and other forms). Nevertheless, I believe the project brought us diverse new knowledge, interesting meetings and most importantly—experience we will carry throughout our lives. Only now can we judge whether or not the work and effort invested into the project was worth it.
I am thinking... of the curse of bearing a yellow star on one's coat.... The knocking on the door in the night, "Police, open the door!" Europe has betrayed its Jews.... Crowds of people amass, watching the livestock cars anxiously, in disbelief that they might be for them.... The long journey leads to the worst of hells, "To the right, to the left," names vanish and only numbers remain... smoke rises from the chimneys. Nearby, a man impales himself on the barbed wires....
One day, everything changed. Soldiers appear. People return home only to find out that there is no more home. Those who survive are haunted by memories which occasionally lead to tears. The cemeteries fill with gravestones... and today's younger generation once again raises their right arms....
Adolf Hitler made up his mind that all races are "inferior" to the Germanic race. What led him to such an opinion? Why would he need to elevate "Aryans" above all others? We will probably never know for sure. I secretly hope that the time of thoughts like his will never return, that our work might open people's eyes....
Our times unfortunately gives space for forgetfulness—allows us to forget our past. The view that what was in the past is of no concern to us is increasingly popular. I can only hope that whoever reads our brochure will understand that we have a lot to learn from our own history and that forgetting our past is the worst mistake we could possibly make.
This project gave me much, although it also took away a lot—it was incredibly time consuming. Despite this, the positives clearly outweigh the negatives. What means the most to me?
During this cooperative project, I finally understood why people try so hard to forget all the horrors that happen around us. Whenever they asked us why we were doing this, we would answer: "Because we must not forget." The more you know about the individual members of a family, the more you gradually reveal of their fates, you can't stop yourself from imagining what feelings they might have been going through. What a person is thinking about while standing on one foot in a train car, surrounded by dozens of desperate people who are equally exhausted, hungry, and foul-smelling and have no idea where he or she is being taken? We can hardly imagine a fraction of the horror.
War is terrible. Killing is terrible. The worst is that people are killing each other. What for? Beliefs. Opinions. Nothing more, nothing less. Is that enough of a reason? The deeper you delve into the horrors of history, the more you become afraid. You are afraid that similar things might happen again... and so you try to forget what has happened. But that really is not a good solution. Thanks to this work, I finally, definitely realized, which direction to take. What is right and what is not, and most importantly, why this is so.
The project really gave me a lot for my future life. New experiences and much more. It does, of course, have its cons—the amount of time spent during long afternoons while working on it. But all that is ok!
Time, time and some more time. That is the thing that limits the world, and limits us. It was the only negative aspect of this project. The time I had to spend on the project was, however, worth it and I will never regret it. The project gave back to me, which is more important. It's not just about having your name on a piece of text, it's about empathy with the situation of the family. The more you get to know about them, the more you want to know even more.... Then you begin imagining, what they might have been saying, what feelings they might have had in different situations.... The story you piece together becomes a part of you—a part nobody will ever be able to take away from you. A person who is lucky enough to participate in this project will have nothing to regret. You will learn teamwork, communication with other people and forming your own opinion. People who work on such a project will never fall for radical movements such as neo-nacism.
What you choose to do yourself, voluntarily, just like how we chose to participate in the "Neighbors Who Disappeared" Project as a whole—its substance, and whatever you enjoy, will not harm you. Otherwise, you would not do it, in a country that is currently free and governed by democratic rules.
There were naturally, also unpleasant morsels of the colossus—often we would seek them out, even though they were not initially counted on. They hurt, but made us stronger in the end. Hopefully, we will be strong. For... because of... following the example of our Neighbors Who Disappeared. We liked them and followed their footsteps for years and their future was hardly rosy. Unfortunately, this is probably true of all permanent and close relationships....
I joined the project because I was very curious about what it was. The archives associated with the project drew me as well. When I was told about the archives, I realised immediately that I had never been there and would hardly find the opportunity otherwise. I would never have expected myself to participate in a similar project, but I can say that I do not regret it in the least.
The project was most certainly a rich experience for me. What did it take? Certainly a lot of time. I did, however, get to meet a lot of new people, see new places, etc. I also learnt, thanks to the project, to communicate better with people and to do my work diligently.
It is a very interesting project, one that gave me much. I am very glad that I signed up for it, even though I hesitated in the beginning. What did the project teach me? Better public performance and expressing myself.
The Brno Moravian Country Archive—The Havlíčkův Brod State District Archive
Havlíčkův Brod Archives
The Havlíček High School, Havlíčkův Brod
Německy Brod Municipal Office
The Havlíčkův Brod Photographic Collection
The Brno Moravian Land Archive—The Jihlava State District Archive
Polná Town Archive
Jihlava Town Archive
The Brno Moravian Country Archive—The Žďár nad Sázavou State District Archive, Velké Meziříčí branch
Velká Bíteš Town Archive
The Zámrsk State Regional Archive—The Chrudim State District Archive
Langer, F., As It Was, Prague 2003, pp. 87, 207–224.
Pachner, A., Terezín Teach ..., in: Sociological Review, Vol. XIII, No. 4, 1947, p. 201–241.
Terezin Memorial Book I–II, Prague 1995.
Jan Zrzavý Remembers, Prague 1971, pp. 42–44.
Ambrož, E., Blecha, D., Complete Directory, History and Memorability of the Royal City of Německy Brod, Německy Brod 1892.
Čárt, J., Německy Brod, Prague 1921.
New Guide to Německy Brod, Německy Brod 1914.
Trčka, J., City Directory to Německy Brod, Německy Brod 1931.
Two Hundred Years of School in Německy Brod, Německy Brod 1935.
Jahoda, J., Starý Student Tells, Prague 1928, pp. 50–55.
Petr, F., "On Německy Brod Old Houses," in: Reports of the Municipal Museum in Německy Brod, 1926–1930, Německy Brod 1931, p. 44.
Pokorná, V., "Persecution on Racial Grounds" in: Havlíčkobrodsko in the National Liberation Movement, Havlíčkův Brod 1946, pp. 180–183.
Pospíšil, A., Flat of Bedrich Smetana, Mrs. J. Billanské in Německy Brod, Number 104 Dolni Street, Havlíčkův Brod
Guide to Německy Brod and Surroundings, Německy Brod 1933.
Photographs and private documents:
Private archives of the descendants of the Pachner family
Private archives of Barbora Voldřichová, the leader of the "Havlíčkůvbrodští Neighbors Who Disappeared" project
Encyclopedias and dictionaries:
Lexicon of Czech Literature: Personalities, Works, Institutions, 1–3 (A–R), Prague 1985–2000, pp. 737–738.
Otto's Encyclopedia of the New Era, I–VI, Prague 1930–1943.
Exhibition in the Jewish cemetery
Czech Radio Region,
Presentation at the seminar for
Presentation at the Regional office
Presentation at the Highland Museum,
Filming for Czech TV show
Project Pachner—Havlíčkobrodští Neighbors Who Disappeared was conducted in collaboration with the Educational and Cultural Center of the Jewish Museum in Prague and the Forgotten Ones Association.
This publication was supported by a financial grant from Havlíčkův Brod in the amount of 60,000 Kč (grant 167/07: "Significant personalities and natives of the city").
Eliška Konupková, Monika Křížová, Kateřina Boumová, Denisa Jelínková, Eva Dušáková, Lenka Klinčúchová, Gabriela Kubátová, Lucie Křížová, Kateřina Rýpalová and Barbora Voldřichová of the Basic School of Štoky
Publisher: Basic and Middle Schools of Štoky www.zsstoky.com
Cover: Eliška Konupková, Vladimir Voldřich
Layout: Barbora Voldřichová
Prepress change photos: Jiří Egert
Prepress change: Martin Kříž
Printing: Havlíčkův Brod Printers, a.s.
Havlíčkův Brod 2007, 1st edition, 2,000 copies