Hanuš Lamač
(14th February 1922 Plzeň)

I was born in Plzeň on February 14th, 1922 at 9 Kramářovy Sady. I was the only child of a trader Vítězslav Löw and Irma Löw (neé Neubauer). I attended a German school in Jungmannova Street for five years and then I started to study at a grammar school (II. československá státní reálka). Most of my friends at that time went to other schools, mainly the other grammar school. Besides Jirka Deiml I remember Franta Fischer, who is very ill and hospitalized for the last four years in Hamburg, Honza Schulhof who emigrated to Australia, Karel Immergut, Franta Löwidt, Fritzek Weiss and some more who all are dead, Honza Neumann who was a captain in the US army and I met him in Prague in 1945, Honza Auer who emigrated to England and moved afterwards to Canada, Heinz Hübsch the same thing also went from England to Canada, I met him in Montreal in 1974, but he was not the type to keep up contact. He was an expert in aviation and had a fantastic job as number one in an aircraft factory. Unfortunately we lost contact but not through my fault. As a matter of fact after so many years people mostly do not keep up contact especially when one does not see each other for so many years.
When the Germans came, I had to find a job. At first I worked in a large industrial complex then I was sent to kaolin works in Horní Bříza. That was really hard work, I got a Schwerstarbeiter Lebensmitellkarten and that meant something. I used to get up at five o'clock in the morning and the train back used to go at six o'clock in the evening - that meant late arrivals home. We had been living in our own flat at 19 Sedláčkova Street until January 1942 when the Germans transported us to Terezín in a transport marked "T". We were allowed to take only a small suitcase, everything else had to stay as it was and the key had to be in the keyhole. The winter was cold in 1942, it was freezing, ten or fifteen degrees below zero.
In Terezín I tried a variety of jobs and finally I ended up working in a bakery. That was an advantage because we weren't starving. I wasn't separated from my parents and therefore the life in the ghetto was quite bearable. I even had a girlfriend - a very pretty young lady called Kitty Zentnerová. She came from Karlovy Vary and she was in Terezín with her mother. When I was included in a transport to the East in 1944, Kitty managed to claim for my replacement and I could stay in Terezín. I am sure she saved my life because this whole transport went right to the gas chamber. In May 1944 I was placed in a transport again, this time with my parents. This transport also went to Auschwitz. We passed the selection several times and finally my father and I were both sent to the concentration camp of Blechammer which belongs to Auschwitz. We were working in a factory producing artificial gasoline for the Germans. My mother was sent somewhere else and I never managed to find out where and how she had died.
There were 70 000 people in Blechhammer including English, French and Italian prisoners of war. The local factory producing gasoline was a frequent target of allied air-raids.
My father became ill and on October 13th he was sent to Birkenau where he was murdered in a gas chamber. In the end of the year 1944 I was hospitalized in the camp hospital, with pneumonia, the hospital was separated from the concentration camp and located in a wood. I met two other prisoners, both Czechs, who were also in the hospital, and we planned to run away as it was easier from the hospital as there were hardly any guards, so one day after our decision, and noticing that no guards were around, we got out of the hospital and ran into the woods at 4 o'clock in the morning. The Russian front was quite near as we heard the sound of the bombing and the gun battles between the Russians and the Germans. We walked towards this bombing and managed to cross to the Russian side, it was very cold and we met Russian patrols who were protecting a nearby bridge crossing a river to the Russian headquarters. We identified ourselves as escapees from a concentration camp and we were received by a Russian woman officer from the political police. By chance this woman was Jewish and agreed to help us giving us food and clothing. We went further to the east, we slept at farmhouses, each night somewhere else, we were wading through the deep snow and freezing - it was twenty or thirty degrees below zero. We spent some time in a Krakow monastery. Our goal was to join the Svoboda's army as volunteers. Therefore we had to march 400 kilometres to Poprad to its headquarters. We covered this distance partly walking and partly on Russian military trucks. We came to the city of Poprad and after some complex identification of ourselves, as we had no papers, we finally were accepted to the Czech army, all three of us, who escaped together from Blechammer. We were incorporated in the Czech army and did the whole way from there to Prague under difficult situations and combats.
I was reunited with my fiancé who came back from Terezín together with her mother and I finished my studies like other soldiers who were in England, Russia or Africa did. I was demobilised from the army in September 1945 after some time spent serving in Sudetenland. Honza Müller was there with me and we both then lived in Karlín in Prague for some time.
I tried to enter the university, but instead started to work in a lawyers office whose two owners were also soldiers but arrived from England and afterwards I got a job with Canadian Commercial Enterprises, which was British Baťa shoe company, at that time separated from the Baťa in Czechoslovakia. I started as a correspondent in English, German and French and during the last time I was the second chief of the office. The manager was an Englishman named Mr. Maltby. Our firm was accused of spying and our offices were closed in February 1948 within one hour.
One year before that I married Kitty Zentnerová. After all I went through I didn't want to live in Europe any longer and I tried to apply for a transfer somewhere over the ocean. Next day I was on my way to Holland and England. My wife Kitty remained in Czechoslovakia and had many difficulties abroad to meet me. In the end she got to Denmark where her mother got married after the war. This was in September 1948 and 4 months later we took a ship from Liverpool to Chile. I live now 56 years in Chile; I arrived on February 14, 1949 just on my birthday. I was still young at that time, I was 27 years old.
We liked it there. We had some friends there and we found a beautiful country of European style. We had a variety of jobs until we properly learned the language. We were supported by some Czechs and Slovaks who had come earlier or came later.
Kitty suffered of a heart disease and died of it in 1952 in Santiago de Chile. She was twenty-six years old.
I married again in 1955, my new wife was born in Germany, grew up in England and during the war she went to Chile where her parents and her brother lived.
In 1973 we moved to Vancouver, Canada because we did not want to live in a communist country under president Allende's lead - Chile seemed to become a second Cuba. Fortunately, the situation changed and we returned in 1975 after our son Miguel finished his studies in Canada.