Emil Ehrlich
(24th December 1923 Plzeň - ? 18th May 1944 Auschwitz)

His father Josef and mother Hermína owned and ran two linen shops. One of them held its lucrative position near the square on the corner of Sedláčkova Street (now the seat of The Cultural Preservation Office) and the other was on Klatovská Street not far from their home placed at 5 Bendova Street. The apartment house where they lived was right opposite the residence of the Plzeň Gestapo commander. Since the address corresponded to the city centre and therefore to the area where the Jewish inhabitants were resettled at the beginning of the 1940s, the family stayed there till January 1942. For several previous months the abandoned balcony, situated to the inner yard, served as a place where Emil could shoot off his air rifle.

He was quiet and unostentatious and had neither many friends nor enemies. His classmates quite liked him and saw him as a shy, physically weak, but still persistent boy.
As one of the smallest students in the class Emil used to sit at the first desk in the middle row next to Karel Matějka. Emil was often absent and Karel gave him extra lessons of French. But he had excellent results in all the other subjects and in a way even in physical education. He used to be the leader of the row during the roll calls, which gave his stronger classmates a reason to admire him.
As a boy Emil suffered from a variety of chronical diseases. He tried to cure the eczema on his hands and neck, but with a little effect. He had a chronic head cold and probably also asthma. That is why his worried parents occasionally used to accompany him on his way to school; they were not only interested in his school results, but also in his proper and neat clothing. His knee breeches, striped sweater and short jacket used to be supplemented with treacherous knee socks that kept sliding down and made people laugh.
Eyewitnesses can lively remember how Emil was excluded from school. It happened at around the beginning of the school year 1939/1940 when there was no other Jewish student at school (except Arnošt and Charlotte Epstein whose father converted to Christianity). Emil was just entering the fifth grade. In the preceding year, when the war broke out, many students started to leave the school, so that the number of people in classes was changing quickly. That's why Emil could have easily disappeared without any notice. But he didn't, because something very alarming happened. The school was visited by Gestapo. Some men standing in the door made Emil pack his things and leave the school forever, all with formal help of principal Pleva and the class teacher Antonín Hecht. For quite a long time this scene became the main subject of the students' excited chatting.
After that Emil worked as a labourer. His father kept on manufacturing quilts although his shop was confiscated and he could only do menial work. The mother stayed at home. On the January 26th, 1942 all three of them were included in the transports to Terezín (T115, T116 and T117) and on May 18th, 1944 deported to Auschwitz in the "Eb" transport. This date is the last trace found about the Ehrlich family. The "Eb" transport carried 1062 men and boys, 1437 women and girls. They were placed into the B II b sector, so called "Terezín Family Camp". In June a number of people was selected from this group to be shifted to other camps and during the night from 11th to 12th July 1944 most of the remaining prisoners (about 4000 people) were murdered in gas chambers.

The Terezín Family Camp in Auschwitz-Birkenau

On September 6th, 1943 two transports (Dl with 2479 people and Dm with 2588 people) left Terezín. Their destination was Birkenau, in particular the newly created "Terezín Family Camp", a section in the camp language called "BIIb". Considering the camp routine the deportees got a very unusual welcome: they did not go through the standard selection, their hair wasn't cut, they were allowed to meet other family members (living in different barracks but in the same section) and the children had their own special children block where they could play together and where they were secretly taught by their instructors. Their games were sometimes observed even by SS-members, including Dr. Josef Mengele. In all other ways the living conditions were as cruel as in the rest of Birkenau - prisoners suffered from hunger, cold, exhaustion from hard physical work, diseases and dreadful sanitary conditions. The Auschwitz underground movement found out that in the BIIb inhabitants' documents there was a note "SB" (Sonderbehandlung - special treatment). This was a term used for people destined for extermination.
On the 15th and 18th December two other transports were sent from Terezín to the "family camp". They carried five thousand prisoners.
On the March 8th, 1944 almost 5000 prisoners from the September transports were separated from the others and in the following night they were murdered in gas chambers.
Three more transports heading for this "family camp" and carrying 7500 people left Terezín on the 15th, 16th and 18th May 1944. The prisoners from the December and May transports went through selections and therefore some of them got out of Birkenau to other concentration camps. At the beginning of July there were still more than six thousand people remaining in BIIb. All of them were murdered by gas between the 10th and 12th July 1944.
Out of the 17500 prisoners of the "Terezín Family Camp" only 1274 survived to the end of the war. Neither Emil Ehrlich's nor Eva Brummelová's family were among them.