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With the Star of David through the…

With the Star of David through the Theresienstadt Hell

by Viktor A. Pollak

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"However unpleasant and disagreeable the lack of creature comfort was, it was not the main factor that made camp life so hard to bear. Far more depressing was the slow but continuous starvation. Older and weaker people succumbed to that insidious method sometimes in a few months, and rarely survived a full year. Before the camp crematorium was built, the dead, mostly older people were buried in unmarked mass graves. I remember the winter of 1942-43 when the ground was solidly frozen and too hard for grave digging, frozen corpses piled up two metres high in a stack just inside the walls. Younger people survived but were getting more and more emaciated. After the war, when I was drafted to military service, I weighed in at forty kilograms, almost half of my previous weight." - p. 74.
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This book was first published in the Czech language in 2010.
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Dr. Viktor A. Pollak wrote, "I had a rather interesting life almost from the very beginning." He did not exaggerate. He was born in Vienna. Since four, he lived in Czechoslovakia. He spent three years in Theresienstadt ghetto. He escaped death nine times. He was a successful researcher in post-war Czechoslovakia, but did not join the victorious side after the Victorious February, a euphemism for the Communist putsch in 1948. Only in Canada was he able to put to use his capabilities in electrical and biomedical engineering as a professor at the University of Saskatchewan, with a long list of patents and inventions.

These stories of imprisonment, violence and near escapes from death at the hands of the Nazis during WWII are remembered accounts of true events, which Dr. Pollak began to record in the 1980s and 90s during his retirement. He died in 1999, and his widow Mirka Pollak continued to search for a publisher, this book was first published in the Czech language in 2010. Saskatoon friends Steven Goluboff and Jan Eklund assisted to translate it into English, design and publish it in Canada in December 2014, through Congregation Agudas Israel in Saskatoon.

Excerpt: "I was loaded into a truck and driven to the execution place of the Small Fortress. Upon arrival there, I saw the fellows of the construction crew who had been hauled away by the SS in the morning. They had already been blindfolded and tied to poles. Several SS men of the Sonderkommando were lying in the grass drinking, smoking, and playing cards. The significance of their presence was underlined by two machine guns mounted in a firing position. I had only seconds to take in the picture of that scene before being blindfolded as well and tied to one of the remaining poles... From time to time the SS fired a few shots over our heads presumably so that we should not feel bored..."
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