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Lisl Winternitz

Prague, Czechoslovakia

Lisl was the youngest of two children born to a Jewish family in the Czechoslovakian capital of Prague, a city with a Jewish community that dated back to the eleventh century. Lisl's family lived on Karlova Street in the Karlin district of the city. Lisl's father owned a wholesale business that sold floor coverings.

1933-39: I was 12 when, on March 15, 1939, the German occupation forces entered Prague. I went to school that day and a teacher shouted at me, "You dirty, filthy Jew," and then spat in my face. Almost every day new Nazi restrictions were placed on the Jews. We weren't allowed in any public place and our ration cards were stamped with a red "J," meaning we could shop only at certain stores during certain hours.

1940-44: In December 1941 my brother, Peter, was deported. Before leaving he managed to send us a one-word note, "Terezin." Then in June 1942 my parents and I were deported, also to the [Theresienstadt] Terezin ghetto. That September, 5,000 Czechoslovakian Jews in Terezin were being sent to Auschwitz and my parents and I were on the list. Peter, determined to stay with us, was one of four who volunteered for that transport. That pushed the number to 5,004, so four from the original list were returned to the ghetto--I was one of them.

Lisl was assigned to a work detail making gas masks, and remained in Terezin until the end of the war. She later learned that her parents and brother were killed at Auschwitz.

 

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