Archive of Přemysl Pitter and Olga Fierzová
Without love, without humanity, without compassion of human to human, nothing can succeed.
Přemysl Pitter

Pitter's Children

In 1945, after the end of II. World War, the first days after the liberation, children from the Terezin Ghetto were quickly evacuated due to typhus epidemic. The castles’ buildings had to be adapted and prepared for the smooth running of sanatoriums, equipped by clothing, footwear and medical equipment. Sanatoriums were supported by UNRRA (United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration founded to help the countries devastated by II. World War) as well as by Czech entrepreneurs and a number of volunteers. After recovering, the children were involved in the education process. Meanwhile P. Pitter with co-workers were searching for children relatives. Most Jewish youth found a new home in Palestine (Israel). But friendly relations with their original homeland are still maintained throughout their lives.

Since the end of July 1945, children from internment camps were brought to the sanatoriums (internment camps for German were known for the terrible conditions). For the accommodation of German children, it was predominantly the castle in Kamenice. For the longest time, Marie Černíková and Dobroslava Štěpánková worked as governesses of German children. These two women found the way to German youth, brought up to the time of superiority and hatred. The reward for women was the love and gratitude the German children gave them also many years after. Some of them are still friends with each other until today.

O. Fierzová with M. Černíková (on the left) and D. Štěpánková (at the back).
O. Fierzová with M. Černíková (on the left) and D. Štěpánková (at the back).

JEWISH CHILDREN

During the occupation of Czechoslovakia, Přemysl Pitter tried to help Jewish families materially and morally. When Jewish children from the sanatorium in Mýto were called with their parents to transport, P. Pitter sent food packages to the concentration camps. He and his co-workers intended to provide immediate assistance to these children in the post-war period. In the first days after the end of II. World War, he received a mandate from the Health and Social Commission of the Czech National Council to carry out his intentions and to start the rescue operation The Castles (1945-1947).

In the book The Castles of Hope written by one of Pitter’s child Pavel Kohn, many of the Jewish children mention their formation just under the influence of P. Pitter and O. Fierzová:

„Sometimes I was crying when I realized how good they were to me…that I found someone to who I could believe... Přemysl and Olga, we all loved them and today I have the love in my heart ... And by The Castles it did not end: after all, they were still interested in us, what we do, what we have achieved in our lives ... If I had to evaluate that life episode, I have to say that it mean a lot to me and that all those who cared for us are still remembered as quite exceptional. I will never forget Přemysl Pitter. When I am at the crossroads and I do not know how to solve it, I imagine how he would do.“

Pitters‘ Jewish children.
Pitters‘ Jewish children.

Jehuda Bacon

Jehuda Bacon was born in Moravská Ostrava in 1929. As 13-year-old, he was assigned to transport to Terezin, then he passed Auschwitz. After the liberation, he arrived in the castle Štiřín, where he studied painting lessons, lectured by Dr. Vogel. After arriving in Israel, he graduated from Fine Arts and became a prominent artist, exhibiting in a number of cities around the world. Today he lives with his family in Jerusalem, and he never forgets to mention P. Pitter and his colleagues: „Every meeting with him encouraged us, because he saw in the period full of negation the examples of good deeds that bring fruits and beliefs.“

Jehuda Bacon in the building Gemeindeamt und Musikschule  Gunskirchen in Austria, in 2016.
Jehuda Bacon in the building Gemeindeamt und Musikschule Gunskirchen in Austria, in 2016.

Pavel Kohn

Pavel Kohn was born in Prague in 1929. He survived the concentration camps Terezin, Auschwitz and Buchenwald, but whole his family died in the Nazi concentration camps. After recovering in the sanatorium at the castle Štiřín, he decided to stay in Czechoslovakia. He graduated in dramaturgy and worked as a journalist. In 1967, he emigrated to Germany with his entire family. After the November 1989, he also published in the Czech Republic, and in 2011 he published his 2nd edition of his book The Castles of Hope - The children of Přemysl Pitter remember.

Pavel  and Ruth Kohn next to the P. Pitter’s tree in Yad Vashem The Righteous Among the Nations in Jerusalem, in 2011.
Pavel and Ruth Kohn next to the P. Pitter’s tree in Yad Vashem The Righteous Among the Nations in Jerusalem, in 2011.

Greta Klingsberg

Greta Klingsberg was born in Vienna in 1929. Greta and her sister were trapped on the territory of the Protectorate and in 1942 they were transported to Terezin. In October 1944, both were sent to Auschwitz. Greta went through the selection and was sent to work at the ammunition factory in Öderan. Her sister did not survive the Auschwitz selection. At the end of the war, the evacuation of prisoners from the factory brought her back to Terezin, where she was liberated. After the liberation, she went to the sanatorium in The Castles, where she recovered from the horror of the concentration camps. After her stay in the sanatorium, she went to Palestine (Israel) to her family.

Greta Klingsberg in the middle, in 2013.
Greta Klingsberg in the middle, in 2013.
Jewish youth with dance costumes at the park of Štiřín castle. Greta is the second from the right.
Jewish youth with dance costumes at the park of Štiřín castle. Greta is the second from the right.

Magda Bar-Or

Magda Bar-Or was born in Subcarpathian Russia in 1928. In 1944, Magda with her sister and mother were transported to Auschwitz, her father died in a Hungarian labor camp. Only Magda and her sister survived and arrived in sanatorium. After a stray journey to the territory of today's Israel, living in kibbutz, despite her family and health complications, she remained a life-optimist and for decades kept communication with homeland and other Pitters’ children. In 1964, she helped to organize the journey of P. Pitter and O. Fierzová to Israel, as well as the awarding of Jad Vashem in Jerusalem. She also attended the memorial events in honor of P. Pitter and O. Fierzová.

M. Kopelevičová (Bar-Or), in 1946.
M. Kopelevičová (Bar-Or), in 1946.
M. Bar-Or, in 2010.
M. Bar-Or, in 2010.
M. Bar-Or, on the left with her sister Nelly, in 1967.
M. Bar-Or, on the left with her sister Nelly, in 1967.

Maud Michal Beer

Maud Michal Beer was born as Maud Stecklmacher in Prostějov in 1929. In 1942, all family was transported to Terezin. She was involved in the Jewish Youth Organization Hechaluc in Terezin, its members helped the elderly in the ghetto. Her father died in Terezin in 1943. After the liberation she was in the sanatorium in Štiřín castle and when she got better, she left to Israel with her sister and mother in 1949. Today, Mrs. Beer lives in Tel Aviv.

Among saved materials of Mrs. Beer is also a unique Terezin testimony written by the teacher E. Weis (not surviving the selection in concentration camp), various drawings and other authentic documents. There is also website with documentation about her family and life: http://maudb.weebly.com/, here are also examples of documentary programs and there is also the publication What fire did not burn, as the testimony of Mrs. Maud Michal Beer.

Maud Michal Beer – with her parents and younger sister Karmela, approx. in 1935.
Maud Michal Beer – with her parents and younger sister Karmela, approx. in 1935.
Unique school report of M. Steckelmachrové-Beer, written in Terezin, in 1944.
Unique school report of M. Steckelmachrové-Beer, written in Terezin, in 1944.
M. Beer has also this star in her album.
M. Beer has also this star in her album.

GERMAN CHILDREN

P. Pitter was regularly visiting the internment camps as a member of the social committee of the Country National Committee. The internment camps were set up for gathering German people on the territory of Czechoslovakia. P. Pitter decided to save German children from these camps. Right within the post-war period, for these activities P. Pitter was criticized. But children should recover, does not matter on nationality, to forget about the horrors of the war. The education of German children was not easy, especially in the case of older German children affected by Nazi propaganda of Hitlerjugend. Nevertheless, the governesses (Marie Štěrbová-Černíková, Klára Mágrová, Dobruše Štěpánková and others) got closer to these children. They were able to talk to them about their families, and also showed them the beauty of German culture to help to build national pride on valuable pillars.

Hans Wunder (one of the German Pitters’ children) said: „The experience with P. Pitter and aunt Olga showed us that there are other people who are also Czechs and who think differently than those whom the Germans could terribly hurt and who are filled with hatred. I am happy that I might understand my uncle Přemysl that love amongst people is the right thing to do, and that it protects us from ourselves. When we can find the right words here and get the children to become part of the great community of nations, it is just the right way he took, enforced and represented.“

German children in Kamenice, in 1946.
German children in Kamenice, in 1946.
Klára Mágrová.
Klára Mágrová.
The group of German boys and governesses M. Štěrbová (on the right) and D. Štěpánková (on the left).
The group of German boys and governesses M. Štěrbová (on the right) and D. Štěpánková (on the left).

 

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