Day 8 – April 13, 2010 – Trsice

Today we experienced the hospitality of Trsice, a small village a few miles from Olomouc, where the family of Otto Wolf was hidden for three years during the Holocaust. As we drove to City Hall, we passed the frog sculpture, representing the town crest, that sits high on a hill overlooking travellers. We were greeted by the Mayor Leona Stejsksalova and her assistant in the traditional way, with bread, salt and plum brandy. After a tour of the new historical museum, including the dungeon, the mayor led us into a conference room where our special friends, Mrs. Ohera and Dr. Brezina narrated the Otto Wolf story. Thanks to our friend and guide, Ilona, we were able to understand all of our Czech friends because today, as yesterday, she translated continually for us. Dr. Brezina was a small child when the Wolfs were hidden in the woods, and he remembers the shed that Slavek, one of their helpers, would lock them in during the day. One day Dr. Brezina, then 7 years old, heard voices inside the shed and tried to get in, but suddenly the voices stopped. It wasn’t until later that he found out the Wolf family had been hiding there. At the end of the presentations, the mayor presented each of us with a T-shirt specially made for our group, of the new frog sculpture with the name of the town, Trsice.

The Mayor then led us to the Trsice cemetery, where there is a memorial to Otto Wolf and the 18 other residents of Trsice and Zakrov who were killed April 20, 1945 because Nazis suspected them of being partisans. Eerily we approached this cemetery and images from the pictures that Mrs. Ohera had given us of the procession in May of 1945 flashed through our minds.
The Mayor treated us to a wonderful lunch at a quaint restaurant of Trsice. While there, Mrs. Ohera identified people from the pictures that she had provided for Mrs. Tambuscio. After lunch our bus travelled the 2 kilometers to Zakrov, where the Ohera family still lives, and where her parents hid the Wolf family in the spring of 1945. Down the street from the Ohera home, we viewed a monument for the 19 young men who were arrested, tortured, locked in a barn and burned to death. As the rain drizzled, we stood in silence, thinking about Otto Wolf, whose diary we all read back home in Kansas, California, and New Jersey. Now we stand here in the Czech Republic, meeting people who knew the Wolfs, standing in their home towns, and seeing the field and forest where the Wolf family hid.

We travelled into Poland, where they are observing a national week of mourning for the President Lech Kaczynski and other government and religious leaders who were killed in the tragic plane crash last weekend: a sobering atmosphere for tomorrow, our day at Auschwitz and Birkenau.

Kayla says:
After reading Otto Wolf’s diary, I learned that Otto Wolf had been murdered with eighteen other men after being tortured by Nazis. I didn’t know, however, that the murders had been unwarranted. The Nazis had been sent to Trsice with a list of nineteen men suspected of being part of the resistance. However, the Nazis lost this list but instead of obtaining a new list, they simply took nineteen men at random who were between the ages of 18 and 40 and locked them in a house. Because Otto happened to be at the Ohera house in hiding, he was arrested with the other men. The men were then tortured and burned; some were burned alive. This made me realize that the Gestapo had been brainwashed to the extent where they did these heinous acts simply so it would not look like they were wrong. They were so committed to upholding their supremacy that they did not simply shoot these men, but tortured them first, creating martyrs.


  1. This is truly remarkable. As an education content specialist for the USC Shoah Foundation Institute, I appreciate what you are doing to 'rescue evidence' more than I could ever articulate. I am also very impressed with the blog and the photos. I feel like I am with you! Thank you for allowing us to come along on the journey. Sheila Hansen


  2. It is amazing the kind of loyalty that can be installed into people. Hitler was just a lone human being, no better than any of us, and yet, an entire country saw him as the one that would save him. (not all i know, but a lot of them). so much was entrusted to him for what? he was a great orator yes, but he was no economist, no doctor, no businessman, just a politician. It is scary to think of how much people can be influenced by a facade of power and intelligence. If people could realize that they had the same potential of everyone standing around them, and are just as good if not better than any other person, they would begin to question everything, including those that are seemingly higher than them on the social food chain. When everyone is questioning, the world becomes a much better place. Human reason is the most powerful thing that our kind possesses. Don't let it go to waste.


  3. Although in our Holocaust class we haven't begun reading Otto Wolf's diary, I'm familiar with the story since we were able to view the diary in the archives at the USHMM. It was amazing that he was able to put this diary together and it is even more fascinating that you guys got to meet the Ohera's who knew Otto Wolf and his family.


  4. Otto Wolf's story was just remarkable and I think that it's just awesome that you guys got read the story about the wolfs and then to go and actually see and meet people who knew the wolf family.


  5. When we read the diaries in class, I remember the one by Otto Wolf was one of my favorite diaries. I think it is so amazing that you went to the same place where Otto Wolf hid. I can't believe you met someone who remembers people being hid in a shed.


  6. Reading Otto Wolf's diary back in Kansas and then going and meeting those who hid Otto must be unimaginable. Knowing how these people risked their lives for Otto and his family must be such a moral learning experience. Knowing how one family risked everything they had in order to save another is truly an honorable task. To see where Otto Wolf hid must also really put the diary into perspective and make it feel real. These experiences must be so rewarding.


  7. Wow with not knowing that much about the Holocaust all these stories you told us really painted a cool and interesting picture for all of us following. Hearing about Otto Wolf was really interesting and intriguing about his story. Hope everyone had fun and was able to learn more and i hope the volcano doesn't cause anymore problems on travel.


  8. Having visited Croatia, a country taken over by the Italian and German (43')forces during the war, it must have been imaginable to talk to an actual survivor. Just knowing I had seen the place where 78 people were sentenced to death by Tito's partisans in 1944 was surreal enough, but to speak to someone who had lived through it would have been a emotional experience. Although Yugoslavia had originally signed a treaty aligning with the Axis powers, it was still invaded, and Jews were sent to concentration camps around the country as well as Aushwitz. While I was unable to see any concentration camps in the Independent State of Croatia (or Italy), it is heartbreaking that over 30,000 people died in these death camps. I hope this was a very moving experience.


  9. It is horrible what the Nazis did to Otto Wolf and the 18 other men that they arrested, tortured, and killed. The Nazis have shown over and over again just how bad mankind can be.


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