Jiří Schanzer
(22nd October 1921 Dolní Lukavice - ? Auschwitz)

He came from Dolní Lukavice, a village near Plzeň, and they also had relatives in Rakovník. He lived with his parents and grandparents in a small house. There was also a small grocery, which is now reminded by two doorways leading to the street. Next door there was Hynek Bloch's house. According to the report of the district authorities from March 1941 the Schanzers and the Blochs were the only Jewish families in Dolní Lukavice.
When Jirka was a small child his mother died and his father got married again. He married Eliška Wollnerová and they had another son called Josef. Their lives were quiet, their Tatra car used to stand in front of the house, the yard was teeming with hens and the attic served as a secret laboratory for experiments - Jiří was an amateur chemist. His cousin Milan Plešák tells:

"We never made very good friends. Actually he did not have many friends because he was a swot. He was reading books all the time and I never saw him going anywhere, chatting with other guys in front of the house or going dancing. I would ride a bicycle there and I often came unexpectedly, but he was always in the lab. He made experiments there and once it even exploded. He was learning so well that he nearly blew their house up. His aunt and uncle used to praise him (but just till the explosion)."

Another story illustrating the lively atmosphere in their house was passed on among their relatives. Jiří's dog was disobedient and kept stealing eggs from their hens. One day it found some addled eggs foisted between the good ones and that taught the dog such a lesson that it became one of the most obedient dogs in the neighbourhood.
In September 1927 he started to attend school in Dolní Lukavice. He finished the five years of elementary studies there and had such subjects as arithmetic, surveying, nature study and national history and geography. Although he struggled with writing at the beginning, he was an exemplary schoolboy - without absence and with obviously deserved A for behaviour and effort. In the class catalogue there is only one negative comment on his behaviour: "8th June 1931 - He scuffled". The same source also gives information about his temporary "expulsion for diphtheria" in November 1931. For the whole time of Jiří's studies there were both a Roman Catholic vicar and rabbi Leopold Singer.
In 1932 he started to commute to Plzeň to be educated at a grammar school, first at "Státní reálné gymnázium" and then at "II. československá státní reálka". During the first years he used to have a spirit: sometimes he "was disturbing during the singing lesson" or just "often disturbed". But he finished his studies successfully in 1939.
His plan to study chemistry was crossed by the Nazis. He took part in a minor Prague resistance and at the beginning of 1942 he tried to go abroad to join a foreign army. He was eighteen years old and he did not tell about his plans even to his closest family members. Shortly after crossing the Hungarian border he was caught by Gestapo and taken first to Slovakia and later to Moravia. He was imprisoned in Uherské Hradiště and in Brno. Afterwards he was transported to the concentration camp in Dachau and then to Buchenwald. In November 1942 the last message comes - a letter to his father which has not survived till today.
According to fellow prisoners' later testimonies Jiří was also deported to Auschwitz where he probably stayed till the liberation in 1945. He either succumbed to exhaustion and diseases or might have died during one of the death marches. Jiří's step cousin, Milan Plešák from Litice near Plzeň, met a former prisoner who claimed that Jiří Schanzer almost came back to Plzeň. But a few kilometres outside the city they were loaded into a train which then was standing a long time at a Plzeň railway station and passers by were throwing bread inside. The transport was under a strict quarantine and many people died there.
Jiří's father, Heřman Schanzer, did not survive as well. He was transported from Klatovy to Terezín on November 26th, 1942 and shortly after that (20th January 1943) to Auschwitz. In a document called "Pronouncement About Death" there is 20th July 1943 written as his last day. Jiří's brother Josef, his mother and grandparents also died in Auschwitz - in a so called "Terezín Family Camp".
Several years later a group of his relatives initiated examining the circumstances of their family members' deaths and tried to close this chapter once and for all with official documents. One of the people was Heřman's sister-in-law Marta Plešáková. She was also imprisoned during the war, her son Milan was in the Postoloprty work camp as a half-blood Jew and her husband was in Bystřice u Prahy, in another work camp for people from mixed marriages. Others who initiated the examination were Věra Hartmannová, Jiří's cousin who also went through Auschwitz, Hana Bendová and Věra Berlinerová. Almost all of their other relatives, the Štěpán family, died in the Lodž ghetto...