Words of Vladimir Feierabend
On 1 July 1942, I had not yet turned 18 and was a student in Prague. After the assassination and death of Heydrich in May 1942, organised by our government in exile in London and of which my uncle was a member, the Gestapo arrested all family members of those who were fighting the Nazis abroad. My brother, my father, my 81-year old grandfather, my mother and I were imprisoned.
Initially held in the small fort at Theresienstadt, the men were transferred to Dachau in September 1942, and the women were sent to Ravensbrück. Compared to Theresienstadt, Dachau was the very picture of order and cleanliness, run by the detainees themselves, under orders from the SS. In early 1943, I was assigned to the political division, which prepared the files for the Gestapo in Munich, and subsequently, after I came down with typhus, to the job of receiving new arrivals. My grandfather, who had been in the infirmary since 1942, was the oldest prisoner in the camp. Thanks to the nurses and to the support of many prisoners, he was saved from the convoys of invalids sent to the castle in Hartheim. In late 1944, in the overpopulated camp, an epidemic of exanthematous typhus broke out and left many dead. In April, the front was moving closer. Everyone was nervous, and the SS even more so.
Although efforts to evacuate us were started, it was too late. On 29 April 1945, the U.S. troops finally reached the camp. The American liberators quickly began work with the international prisoners' committee to isolate those with typhus, provide medical care, institute de-licing and see to disinfection. We could breathe freely and were happy to have survived, thanks to the U.S. Army.
After being evacuated from Ravensbrück, my mother and my aunt walked for a month until they reached the Czech border.
The US Army transported us to Pilsen. Within 3 days, we, the entire family, were re-united in Prague. Wasn't that a miracle? After a period of 3 years apart...
After my return, I went on to study medicine. I had some problems with the totalitarian Communist regime after 1948, but I managed to survive that time as well.
I will soon be 91 years old.
Since 1990, I have been a member of the executive board of the CID and president of the friends association of Czech prisoners at Dachau.