Pavla Kováčová

* 1913  †︎ 2013

  • “We said that we were not cowards and that we had to fight. That it could not be that they would just run away. They wanted to go away, to Palestine; when dad said that we would go to Palestine. (He even went there to see it…). He went there to see the place, and he said that we would go to Palestine, that we would escape to Palestine, but we said: ‘No, we are patriots, we will fight.’ We were such idiots. We were patriots.”

  • “Some gentleman who was to guide us went with us, but he walked far ahead and he said that he would light a lamp if there was no financial guard or a policeman. We had to crawl on our bellies, and the ground was wet, there was snow and mud, and we had to crawl, but only at a distance of fifty metres behind him, and suddenly a light flickered. We were crawling there and Petr suddenly said: ‘Vonat!’ (a ‘train’ in Hungarian). He spoke the first word in Hungarian: ‘Vonat.’ I ordered him: ‘Shut up, or they will kill us!’ You know that he still reproaches me for that? He is sixty years old, but he is still scared that they would kill him because I had told him so back then.”

  • “Our doorkeeper was hiding us all the time. Mrs. Růženka Pížlová; she was an ordinary woman from Domažlice. She was a nice, plain woman. She kept hiding us all the time. Mr. Vomáčka, a convenience store owner who lived next door, was illegally giving us all food ration stamps. He was giving us everything, even without the stamps. Everyone helped us in a different way. She was hiding us in all the flats that were being left behind by the Jews. She was not hiding only us, but other Jews as well. She was also hiding the son of the landlady, his name was Polák, and he lived in Šafaříkova 18. She was hiding us and the boy as well, but he somehow sensed the horror of it, he was about fourteen years old and he climbed up to the roof and he jumped down and killed himself. He didn’t stay alive, but she kept hiding us in various flats. Mrs. Růžena Pížlová, a wonderful person; her daughter is still alive. How did the Czechs treat us? Only some Czechs were like that, not all of them.”

  • “In a very religious Jewish family. Everything was kosher. (What does it mean?) That means that you live by the Torah, you have clean kitchen utensils, separated for meat and dairy, and you wash your hands a lot, you pray before every meal, after every meal, you observe Shabbat: you have to. I have a picture, I will show it to you later. We had a wonderful Shabbats, we had to bathe, wash ourselves and behave. There were four of us kids, and so we were not too good, we were kicking each other under the table, and dad knew it, but he pretended he did not, because it was Shabbat, and so we had to behave. Only after the Shabbat, on Sunday, he would take us aside and say that he always paid everything in a lump sum, and so he would throw us all in one heap and give us a beating at once. But he would only do it on Sunday, because this was not to be done on Shabbat. That’s how we lived.”

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    Praha, 01.01.2006

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For a Jew, every time is a difficult time

Pavla Kováčová with her daughter, 1940s
Pavla Kováčová with her daughter, 1940s
zdroj: archiv pamětníka

Pavla Kováčová, née Estereicherová, was born July 15, 1913 in Krakow in an orthodox Jewish family where she grew up together with three siblings. The family soon moved to Prague where her father established a company which produced chocolate. Pavla graduated from grammar school in 1932 and in 1939 she married Pavel Weisz who came from Lučenec. Both joined the resistance movement immediately after the occupation of the country. Their daughter Eva was born in 1940. Although they were summoned to transport to the Terezín ghetto in February 1942, the deportation was postponed due to Pavla‘s pregnancy. Pavel and Pavla, together with their daughter and later also with their son, decided not to board the transport and they went into hiding in Prague. At the end of 1942 they escaped to Hungary and then to Lučenec where her husband‘s parents and other relatives lived. Even in Slovakia where they lived under false identities, Pavel Weisz and his wife continued in the resistance activity. Pavla and both her children were briefly interned in a ghetto in Lučenec, but her husband then got her out of there. Since then, she and her children were hiding in homes of various people in the countryside and she spent a longer period of time with the family Miadok in the village Mládzovo. Pavel Weisz joined the Slovak National Uprising and he cooperated with partisan units in Slovakia. The family, which meanwhile increased with yet another baby, became reunited in January 1945 after the liberation and in summer 1945 they all returned to Prague. In 1946 they changed their surname Weisz to Kováč. Pavla Kováčová worked in education, later she did an administrative job and she worked as an accompanist. She died on 4th September 2013, shortly after celebrating her 100th birthday.