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Aloisie Blumaierová

Aloisie Blumaierová, née Ištvánová, born 1926, Bořitov, Blansko district

  • Testimony abstract

    Before the war, Aloisie Blumaierová's family lived in Bořitov in one room in the municipal poorhouse, where four other non-Roma families lived. The father, Jakub István, came from Hungary and was originally a horse trader but was now working as a journeyman in a sawmill. Her mother, Aloisie Růžičková, was from a travelling family [a specific group characterized by their unsettled lifestyle associated with certain professions such as running carousels, circuses, puppet theatres, etc.] and already had four children from her first marriage. During mobilization,[1] Aloisie’s father enlisted, but he soon re-joined the family.

    • [1] Probably in September 1938.

    When the Roma from the area were gradually taken to Hodonín [u Kunštátu], Aloisie’s mother wanted the family to go to Slovakia, where the situation was calmer than in the Protectorate, but her father refused to leave Bořitov. At the beginning of 1943, gendarmes from the nearby market town of Černá Hora came to their home, told them to pack everything they could carry, and took Aloisie, her parents and her younger brother František to the slaughterhouse in Brno.[1] They spent three days in a barn there and then were assigned to a transport[2] to the Auschwitz camp.

    When they were driven out of the wagons on arrival by SS men with dogs, they were horrified by what they saw around them. As a family, they were assigned the bottom section of the three-story plank-beds in the living quarters, then had to get their prisoner numbers tattooed on their forearms, and the next day were washed and had their hair cut. Fourteen days later[3] Aloisie's older half-sisters Anna and Antonie (married name Richtrová) and their families arrived at the camp.

    The long roll calls were especially agonizing. Aloisie Blumaierová, still suffered from frostbite on her feet, caused by standing in the freezing cold wet through from working in the children's camp kitchen in only her clogs and clothes that froze to her body. As well as peeling potatoes for the children, she dug trenches and carried earth and rocks, which she said was unnecessary and pointless work. The worst thing she endured was that they could not observe even the most basic hygiene; there was mud and dust everywhere, and they were plagued by bedbugs and lice, which carried typhus.

    As a child she had been afraid of meeting death, but now she met it at every turn. Her father was the first of the family to die. He blamed himself for not leaving for Slovakia, and she said he had given up on his life long before a kapo killed him at his workplace. Her brother František probably died during the transport to [the camp in] Buchenwald.

    After about six months in the camp, she met by chance a political prisoner, Vlastík Živný from Ráječek who was working on the electrical wiring. She was suffering from periostitis, so he arranged for her to be treated by the prison doctor; he also helped her to work in the children's kitchen, which had many advantages, including better accommodation with regular access to the washrooms, and also access to food. The children were cooked for separately and the food was better; for example, the potatoes were peeled for the children. The kapo there was a Polish political prisoner, Jasza, and his assistant was Juzek.[4] She remembers that Růžena Kýrová from Strážnice and Ilona, surnamed Chadrabová or Richtrová, also worked in the kitchen; she also remembers a handsome SS man with sadistic tendencies[5] who beat them with a cane. When she noticed that he gave the severest beatings to women who screamed a lot, she tried to grit her teeth and keep quiet when he punished her.

    From the kitchen window she could see the road to the crematoria, along which the prisoners were brought to be gassed; only cars with clothing came back. She and the others were also once taken to the crematoria and the women and children were left standing there all night, but then they were brought back again. Shortly afterwards, she and her mother were put on a transport to [the camp at] Ravensbrück, where they spent several weeks before being taken to Graslitz.[6] There she first worked in a factory, and learned to use solder and tin, and was later reassigned to the kitchen.

    In April [1945], with a ration of half a kilo of flour and a quarter of a loaf of bread, they set out on the so-called death march. They met wandering groups of prisoners and also got lost several times. It was cold, they ate grass and roots, and those who fell from exhaustion were shot. She walked with her mother in a group with Ilona, mentioned earlier, probably Chadrabová, who knew some German, which was useful; Aloisie Blumaierová, later named her daughter after her. They reached Prague via Nejdek and Karlovy Vary, where they survived the air raids, and on 24 April 1945 she and her mother experienced the arrival of the Soviet troops with relatives in Libeň.

    • [1] The Roma were concentrated in the hastily cleared stables of the mounted detachment of the non-uniformed Protectorate Police at No. 3 Masná street in Brno, from where they were successively transported to the adjacent disinfection establishment. After having their hair cut, the internees were transferred to the municipal slaughterhouse in at Nos. 4-6 Masná street, the starting point for the deportation transports. (ed.)
    • [2] Transport of March 7, 1943. (ed.)
    • [3] Transport of 19 March 1943. (ed.)
    • [4] The prison officials in the children's kitchen were Jan Bromilski, born on 24 December 1904 in the village of Medyka, and Józef Pazdro, born on 28 June 1913 in the town of Dębica. (ed.)
    • [5] Probably SS-Hauptscharführer Wilhelm Händler. (ed.)
    • [6] There was a subsidiary camp originally under the administration of the Ravensbrück camp, which was attached to the Flossenbürg concentration camp on 1 September 1944.

    Aloisie Blumaierová said that she survived the hardships probably because she was young and healthy, and did not fall ill with typical camp diseases such as typhus or dysentery. She was never so hungry that she had to eat garbage from the garbage dump, and was not forced to drink contaminated water. Nevertheless she suffered from ill health and mental problems because of the war. For a long time she was unable to have children, and when they were born she was afraid that they would go through similar experiences to hers.

    How to cite abstract

    Abstract of testimony from: NEČAS, Ctibor, ed. Nemůžeme zapomenout = Našťi bisteras : nucená táborová koncentrace ve vyprávěních romských pamětníků. Olomouc: Univerzita Palackého, 1994, 79-84. Testimonies of the Roma and Sinti. Project of the Prague Forum for Romani Histories (Institute of Contemporary History, Czech Academy of Sciences), https://www.romatestimonies.com/testimony/aloisie-blumaierova (accessed 4/14/2024)
  • Origin of Testimony

    The tape recording and transcript of the memoir were made by Ctibor Nečas on 13 April and 28 September 1987.

  • Where to find this testimony

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