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Marie Nedvědová

Marie Nedvědová, née Kovářová, born 1923 in the village of Bedlno, now part of the municipality of Jesenice in the Rakovník district

  • Testimony abstract

    Maria Nedvědová's father was Václav Kovář, and her mother Božena’s maiden name was Serinková. They had eight children: sons Filip, Jaroslav, Lojza, Pepík, Eda and Robert, and besides Marie, one daughter, Zdeňka.

    Marie Nedvědová wrote that they did not know they were assigned to the transport until the last moment. The Roma, including their entire family, gathered at the station in Příbram, from which they travelled in overcrowded train carriages to the Auschwitz concentration camp. The train did not stop anywhere on the way; they were not allowed to take anything with them, but were not given anything to eat or drink. They arrived at Auschwitz in the evening. The guards drove them out of the wagons like cattle, and then they walked for half an hour. They knew that this was a camp and that they would not survive; just entering it was terrible. As soon as they arrived, they were shaved and the women and men were herded together into the showers, where only cold water was running. They were given tattoos and then stayed in quarantine for about a week, where they were given prison clothes and clogs. After quarantine, the family was housed in block 11, where there were no windows, only ventilation. They were given "horse" blankets and slept on the bunk beds above each other. There were no toilets in the block, only barrels that were taken out to be emptied. According to Nedvědová, 300 prisoners of various nationalities lived in the block, mainly Czechs, Hungarians, Germans, Poles and Roma. Roll calls were held once a day, and if someone was absent, they lasted all day, and even the children had to attend. After the roll call they went to work outside the camp; this was mostly carrying stones from demolition sites. They worked from eight in the morning until three in the afternoon, with the guards sometimes beating them and shooting at them.

    Once a day they were given food, fodder beets and a hundred grams of bread, with birch leaf tea to drink, but no coffee. Better food could be bought in the canteen, but the Kovář family had no money, and no parcels were sent to them, because the whole family was in the camp.

    Many diseases were rampant in the camp, Nedvědová mentions tuberculosis, gastric catarrh, as well as epidemic typhus and typhoid fever, which she herself contracted. She was in hospital with it, but there was no care and the doctors did not treat the patients well. They took blood samples from her but did not x-ray her or send her for tests.

    Prisoner mortality was high. Maria Nedvědová's father was beaten, her mother and two siblings died in the gas chamber, and [the] others were poisoned.[1] Nedvědová wrote that she knew where the gas chambers were and what was happening in them. She described how, when a prisoner escaped, the the whole block was punished – it was closed and no one was allowed out. The escaped prisoner was shot and then shown as a deterrent to each block.

    She was transported from Auschwitz to “Rabersbrück” [probably to Ravensbrück concentration camp] and was liberated on 5 May 1945 in Hamburg. She wrote that the Germans eventually took them to Pilsen.

    • [1] It is not clear what is meant by this.

    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, 194-195. 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/marie-nedvedova-roz-kovarova (accessed 4/13/2024)
  • Origin of Testimony

    Marie Nedvědová wrote her own testimony on 9 October 1987.

  • Where to find this testimony

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