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Tomáš Šubrt

Tomáš Šubrt, born 1901 in Čeložnice, Hodonín district; died 1982

  • Testimony abstract

    There was typhoid fever in [the so-called gypsy camp in] Hodonín, so Tomáš Šubrt, his wife Filomena and their children Jaroslav and Květoslava were deported from Brno[1] to Auschwitz.[2] With them in the transport were Tomáš Šubrt's mother, his father-in-law and mother-in-law, three brothers and their twelve children, a sister and brother-in-law with five of their own children and about twelve other children and also a sister from Kyjov, and the Homolka family with their five children and two grandchildren. They were to take food and clothes only for two days; they had been told in Brno that everything else would be provided for them, and that they would have a home in Auschwitz. They were not given anything for the journey, neither food nor drink, but the deportees on this transport were allowed to keep their belongings. Thus they had, in addition to food, clothes and shoes which they exchanged with the Poles for food.

    The journey in closed freight cars took approximately twelve hours. The transport was escorted to the border by Czech police officers, then taken over by the Germans. On arrival, the train stopped in a siding on a high embankment down which they were thrown to empty the train quickly. The children cried, and one of them was killed by the Germans.[3] They lined up five-abreast and walked three kilometres to Birkenau.[4] A prison band played at the camp gate, and they were immediately taken aback by the level of bestiality when they saw the bodies of murdered prisoners, such as a man with a pickaxe in his head and a prisoner who had been shot.

    Tomáš Šubrt and his family were in Block 9. On the very first evening, the Germans killed 19-year-old Jaroslav Holomek from Svatobořice. He went out around nine o'clock, but then he couldn't find his way among the blocks, and when he started running they shot him. The patrol then came to their block and told them that if they did not hand over the boy's body, they would shoot them all. Tomáš Šubrt said they were intending not to hand him over and prepare him for his last journey themselves.

    It was a family camp where men, women and children were together. First they all had their hair cut off and then they were tattooed with [prison] numbers on their forearms. They were given food twice a day, tea in the morning, and beets at noon. The children's food was a little better. They were allowed to keep their civilian clothes, but they were visibly marked with red crosses everywhere. After about nine months, they had torn them off and went half-naked and barefoot, so then they were given civilian clothes of the prisoners from the new transports with markings.

    They had roll call twice a day, and even the children had to stand for it. If a prisoner was missing, they would stand there until dawn. Tomáš Šubrt recalled the attempts of Czech prisoners to escape. The first were a group of six escapees, including his sister's son from Hodonín and two brothers from the Holomek family. After their capture, they were taken to a camp where they were tortured and hanged, and their bodies were left hanging as a warning to others; their family members were beaten.[5]

    The prisoners had to work from 6:30 to 3:30 p.m. Everyone in Tomáš Šubrt's family worked, both inside and outside the camp. He mentioned Vojtěch and Maria Šubrt, who were killed by the Germans while at work; their six children also died. Tomáš Šubrt said they actually thought about death all the time; they mostly talked about what would happen to them when it was their turn to go to the gas chambers. Once, during the Blocksperre, the Germans took the Polish Roma from Blocks 6 and 8 away in vehicles. They claimed they were taking them home, but in the morning it turned out that they had been gassed.[6]

    Tomáš Šubrt considers the most horrible experience was when prisoners from a newly-arrived transport were taken by the Germans straight to the gas chamber. They tried to take the children away from their mothers, but the mothers clasped them to themselves and went to their deaths with the children.

    At the end of August [1944] he was selected for transport and passed through the camps of Buchenwald, Dora, Ellrich, Harzungen and Nordhausen, where he was liberated by the American army in mid-April 1945.[7] A mass transport of non-Romani prisoners, organized by the Repatriation Commission, returned to Brno via Prague on 19 July 1945. He concluded his narrative by stating that none of his family survived Auschwitz.

    • [1] Transport of 19 March 1943. (ed.)
    • [2] Auschwitz II - Birkenau concentration camp.
    • [3] It is not clear whether a child or an adult family member.
    • [4] Auschwitz II - Birkenau, where there was a so-called family gypsy camp.
    • [5] On 7 May 1943, Jaromír Daniel, born 1918 in Jalubí; Jan Daniel, born 1915 in Hodonín; Antonín Holomek, born 1909 in Milokošt'; Štěpán Holomek, born 1905 in Kyjov, Stanislav Holomek, born 1908 in Kyjov, and Vincenc Vrba, born 1903 in Zálužany escaped. The first five fugitives were caught on the same day, Vincenc Vrba on 14 May 1943. All of them were executed on 22 May 1943. (ed.)
    • [6] This was one of the mass murders of Polish Roma, but the designation of the blocks given by the survivor (ed.) does not correspond.
    • [7] According to corroboration from the International Centre for Nazi Persecution in Bad Arolsen, he was registered in Buchenwald from 3 August 1944, in Dora from 17 August 1944 and in Mittelbau I near Nordhausen from 1 November 1944. The latter concentration camp was liberated on 11 April 1945. (ed.)

    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. ISBN 80-7067-354-0, 214-216. 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/tomas-subrt (accessed 7/12/2024)
  • Origin of Testimony

    This memoir is based on the written answers to a questionnaire sent by Vlasta Kladivová to former prisoners of the Auschwitz II - Birkenau gypsy camp in 1972.

  • Where to find this testimony

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