Day 9 – Trsice

Today, we had another great hotel buffet breakfast and then checked out of our hotel in Olomouc.  
Before heading back to Trsice, we stopped at the Zakladni School near the railway station where last night Petr had told us during our visit to the Jewish Federation, that they had recently installed a stolper schwelle or ‘threshhold” denoting this building as where local Jews were housed during 1942 while Nazis rounded up additional Jews until they had 1,000. Then they would send a full transport to the East.  There is also a plaque on the school wall placed by the Jewish Federation in 1996 which lists the transports and the fate of the local Jews.  From the more than 4,000 Jews deported, only 288 survived.

 

 
Next our bus took us back to the small town of Trsice, population of just under 1,000, which has become such an important and integral part of the Holocaust Study Tour in recent years.  We first made the connection on our Holocaust Study Tour in 2008 that Olomouc and Trsice were the towns Otto Wolf refers to in his diary which is one of the diaries in Salvaged Pages that we study in our Holocaust classes.   The town of Trsice hid the family of Otto Wolf for three years during World War II, bringing them food to their forest hideouts in the spring and summer and sheltering them in their homes and other buildings during the winter months.  Milos Dobry, the grandfather of Petr Papousek, who we met last night at the Jewish Community Center and head of the Jewish Federation, first showed us the hideouts in the forest and introduced us to the mayor of Trsice, Leona Stejskalova. 
Last night we had hosted Mayor Leona, her deputies,  Zedenka  Ohera Calabkova [we call her Mrs. Ohera] and her sister Ludmilla, and young members of the Czech scout troop at the local horse farm, Jezdécky Aréal, for dinner.

 

Today we were the guests of Mayor Leona and the town as our students explored the sites in and around the town which are important to the story of Otto Wolf and his family.  On arriving in Trsice we walked into the Town Hall,  a former castle dating back to the 14th century, past the town’s symbol, the frog,   Why a frog?  Because the name of the man who originally settled here translates as Mr. Frog.  and we were greeted at the entry, as we have always been, by Mayor Leona and her deputy mayor who offered us the traditional Czech greeting:  bread dipped in salt. 

 

 

 
 
We were welcomed also by her Mrs. Ohera and her sister, whose family helped hide the family of Otto Wolf, as well as the young members of the Czech Scout troop we had met last night and their scout leader, Jan Pecinka.
Inside the building we were officially greeted by Mayor Leona in the Ceremonial Hall who presented the teachers with a new book about Trsice and the students with Trsice notebooks.  She then introduced Milan Mahdal, a middle school teacher and historian for the town.  Professor Mahdal told us the story of how residents of Trsice and Zákřov provided shelter and assistance to the Wolf family for 3 years, at great personal risk.  He told us that every day they would hear on the radio the names of people who had been arrested and shot for hiding Jews. Kamila translated for us as he told us how difficult it was to protect the secret that they were hiding the Wolfs.  They had to be careful walking in and out of the forest in the winter, to not leave footprints; how difficult it was to be able to supply food for an additional four people given the ration card system, and how sometimes the Wolf family would develop ‘cabin fever’ and just feel that they had to venture out of their hiding places, if only for a short time. 
He then introduced Mrs. Ohera who told her story, against translated by Kamila.  Her family had provided food and shelter for the Wolfs and she told of her memories.  When the Wolf family left the Zboril family home in late 1944 when the Nazis established an office in a house next door and appeared on their doorstep one night, Mrs. Ohera said her family chose to offer them shelter.  Mrs. Ohera was 8 years old, her sister Ludmilla was 5, and they had a 15-month old brother. 

 

In April 1945, the Nazis started having roundups in the area because of increased partisan activity.  On the night of April 20, 1945, the Nazis entered the area and started shooting.  Mrs. Ohera’s father, who was guarding the village, was shot in the leg.  There were also a couple of fires started in the town, including one on the street where the Oheras lived.  Many people went out to see what was happening and to stop the fire, including her uncle, her future father-in-law, and Otto Wolf.  She told us how they, along with her father and others, 19  men in all, were then randomly arrested.  The men were all tortured, but no one gave up any information about the Wolfs in hiding.   They were then put in a shed in a neighboring forest and burned alive.  When the remains were examined later, doctors said every bone in the bodies had been broken before death.   
The Soviets would build a monument at the site of the execution and burning, to commemorate the brutality of the Nazis.  While telling her story, Mrs. Ohera had become quite emotional as these difficult childhood memories of pain and fear and loss came flooding back, and she ended her story by saying “I wish you all a life of peace.  I hope nothing this terrible happens to you.”
Professor Mahdal then talked about how on May 8th the Wolf family met soldiers from the Soviet Red Army who liberated the area, and how within one day of their liberation, learned the fate of their two sons, Otto, and Kurt, who had joined the Soviet army to the east before the Wolf family had gone into hiding and who had been killed in battle.  The Wolf family, who had been living in Olomouc when they received their deportation notices, then fleeing to Trsice to hide, returned to the town of Olomouc. 
The local people felt no need to talk about what had transpired with the Wolf family and the rescue efforts of the townspeople for more than 40 years.  Shortly after the war, Mrs. Wolf died and Mr. Wolf later remarried.  After his death, his second wife gave Otto’s diary to the local Jewish community, but because Czechoslovakia was then under communism, nothing was done with the diary.   After the Velvet Revolution and the fall of communism in 1989, the diary of Otto Wolf was published and people started to ask questions about what had happened here and why the town of Trsice had protected this Jewish family.
We climbed aboard our bus with the scouts to take us to the entrance to the forest to visit the memorial at the hideouts.   Arriving at the memorial we saw the damage which had been done this winter because of storms..  Also, many trees had had to be cut down because of a tree disease which was contagious.  Kamilla told us that they will soon be replanting trees in the area. 
By the memorial one of the Czech scouts read a diary entry from Otto’s diary, the scouts sang their scout hymn, and then we took a group picture before hiking out of the forest.   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next we visited the town cemetery, marked by one of the 5 information guide markers which are placed at sites around Trsice which relate to the Wolf family.  We saw the memorial to the 19 men from Trsice and Zakřov, including Otto Wolf, who had been killed in April 1945, as well as the gravesite of Jaroslav [Zladek] Zdarilova who had had a crush on Otto’s sister, Lici, and was one of the first to help hide and protect the Wolf family.
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We then stopped by the memorial in the small town park which was dedicated in 2013 to the rescuers of the Wolf family and the town in general, by the U.S. Commission for the Preservation of America’s Heritage Abroad.

 

 

 

After a wonderful lunch with Mayor Leona, the Deputy Mayors, Mrs. Ohera. her sister Ludmilla and her grandson, and the Czech scouts.  After lunch we said goodbye to our Trsice friends until next year and boarded our bus for a four hour ride to our next stop, Dabrowa Tarnowska in Poland, where we will have to say goodbye to our Kamila and meet our new Polish local guide, Lidia.  We will check into our hotel and have dinner with Jurek and Yola, two high school teachers we met several years ago who helped spearhead the restoration of  the Jewish synagogue..  Tomorrow we will be spending the day with these teachers at their school and visiting the synagogue. 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Read student comments on Padlet at the following link:
 
 

43 comments

  1. Another amazing day for all of you!!Mrs T what happened to the plaque for Trsice? Was there a glitch in getting it finished?I understand you all get to read the posts the following morning, so Happy Birthday Cherilyn. Wednesday is going to be a difficult day for all of you. Not quite the best way to celebrate your birthday but I am sure it is one you will never forget. We love you very much and we cant wait to hear every last detail about the trip. Im sure you are taking hundreds of pictures! We are very proud of ALL of the students on this once in a lifetime trip. Thanks is just not enough for you T, there really are no words any of us can come up with to describe the debt we owe you. You are and have affected the lives of so many young adults.

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  2. We can only understand through your words what you are experiencing, but as Sara said a museum or textbook can't tell that raw story or fact and cause that emotion. So it is with what you tell all of us. We will never truly know ALL that you are experiencing and learning unless we too could hear words spoken by survivors and see their faces. You are such a lucky group because future groups may not get this very personal relationship with all of the witnesses and survivors as you are getting.Happy 17th Birthday to my dear daughter Cherilyn who I love so very much. You will never forget where you were on this 17th birthday! Love Diane

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  3. In class we have watched many movies about how so many people were killed in the Holocaust. The numbers are so big and you know how terrible it was, but it is just a very big number.But when you hear real people tell the stories about their relatives and point out exactly where the Wolf family hid, it makes their story more meaningful to me.To see pictures of the forest where the Wolf family hid must have been very scary for the group. When Mrs. Ohera was speaking it had to be very emotional to listen to. The group must be very excited and nervous about going to Auschwitz tomorrow.-Dashawn Harden

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  4. Seeing the hideout where the Wolf family hid and the woods surrounding seems like it'd be surreal. In class we've seen pictures of the hideout, but seeing it in person would be completely different. Can't wait to hear all about your trip to Auschwitz tomorrow!Abby Coplen

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  5. What a wonderful arrival with hand shakes, open arms and hugs as well as a welcome ritual, and what I am sure was a great meal. It sounds like the whole town came out to greet you!!Of Mrs. Ohera — I am amazed by her strength and bravery to retell her childhood horrifying story to you. To bring you to places of immense hurt and pain for her. Yet her willingness still.. to tell the story so it lives on through all of you. That part of your journey today touches me the most. That here was a young girl, who didn't know of her family and neighbor's courage to hide the Wolf's — then to see and know her father, and the town's men were taken away, tortured and executed…. how could she have been made to understand that they were doing the right thing? And where does she find the strength to walk you all through it… I admire her deeply.Tomorrow… I can't imagine what full spectrum of emotions you will all encounter. But remember — no one's emotional experience is wrong. If someone is quiet and can't talk, or withdraws… or if another cries uncontrollably.. or becomes angry, or inconsolable, just be there for each other. It could be a fellow student, old friend, new found friend, guide or teacher — support one another…. I send blessings to all of you tomorrow. Frankie — I am there inside of you. At all times. And I love you forever. Lastly, Happy Birthday Cherilyn…. Rejoice in that happiness. Love to all, and a very strong heartfelt hug and kiss for my Frankie. Be strong baby girl (or not).. just know that I love you. Celeste

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  6. Very insightful reactions from all of you. When Kasandra mentioned seeing tears in Mrs. Ohera eyes and sarah & Sammy both mentioned the look on her face when she spoke of her past it made tears come to my eyes. BE STRONG in your experiences to day (I know you are actually THERE as I'm writing this)..but be there for each other after experiencing Auschwitz..this will really be a tough day for everyone.We miss all of you, but know that this is something that needs to be done…we need you coming back and spreading the word about everything you're learning so the reality of history isn't lost as the years go by!Love to all, SusanCherilyn…Happy Birthday…I thought of YOU first thing this morning when I realized it was the 20th…YOUR special day!!! xoxo

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  7. One of my favorite stories that we learned about in class was the story of Otto Wolf and his family. I found their story very interesting and amazing of what they went through to hide themselves. I could never imagine going to the actual hideout that the family stayed in. And being able meet Mrs.Ohera and hear her side of the story must have been very remarkable too. Enjoy the rest of your trip!

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  8. What strength for all who experienced the horror and to those who are learning through the memories. As reading and trying to put myself in the places where they were is so touching. The walk in the woods must have been an exciting yet chilling moment , to see and feel the wind, the sun, and the surroundings of current and past memories. Much thanks again to this blog. And much thanks in sharing…Enjoy and Never Forget.Delia

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  9. Our day in Trsice was quite incredible and I think you all can see from the student comments that they were profoundly affected by their generosity, warmth and sincerity. Each student made incredible personal connections to the individuals they met in Trsice which I know they will come back and share with you all. The memorial project was unable to be completed this year as the permit had expired shortly before our trip. In the end it works out fine because Eva (Lici's daughter) has promised that she will be with us next year for the dedication.

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  10. It is incredible to hear and see the pictures of the Wolf family. It really makes Otto Wolf's diary come to life. To see the forest they lived in, and to hear about how you guys visited the house that the Wolf family lived in before they went into hiding is incredible. It also must have been incredible to hear from Mrs. Ohera, to hear about her memories. Even though she did not know the Wolf family, it must have been incredible to hear her memories of the night of April 18, 1945. I look forward to hearing about the rest of your travels!

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  11. I am so jealous you all got to hear first hand accounts of the Wolf family story. That must have been truely emotional. Seeing where they actually hid in the woods must have been an unbeliable sight, I know I can hardly believe it, I can only imagine what seeing it first hand would be like.Meghan McAllister

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  12. Mrs. Bauman, the Wolf Family story has intrigued me from the first time you shared their story with our class. Hiding for three years in the woods and in such a small space is unimaginable. The terror the Wolf family must have felt for the entirety of their years in hiding is a lot to handle for parents trying to take care of their children. Mrs. Ohera's firsthand account as a young child during the war would have been amazing to hear. Even an innocent child with an optimistic outlook on life recalls the terror she felt growing up. Today would have been a very moving story. I'm so excited for next year's Holocaust Study Tour group to present the memorial to Trsice for its rescue efforts during the war.The pin presented by Colonel Zuffa-Kunci is such a huge honor for your entire group. It is very much deserved for all you guys taking time to experience history from firsthand accounts. Your tour group has made history by signing the large book and having your photo added for future visitors to see and learn about your story. Lunch sounds delicious! It made me hungry just reading about it!I'm glad today offered a small glimpse of hope about how one town did so much to help Jewish families during the war. Enjoy your next few days!-Laura Negley

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  13. The WOlf story was one of my absolutley favorite stories we learned about in class! I'm jealous you got to go to the hide out and the surrounding woods. I hope you all are having fun!!! -Daniel Ecklund

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  14. The holes that the Wolf family hid inside of must've been so tiny just as you all described, and it really expresses how drastic measures were made by the persecuted to not only stay safe but alive. It is crazy to believe that Mrs. Ohera had no idea that the Wolf family was being hid in her house. Mrs. Ohera sounds like a very strong women seeing as she was capable of telling the story of not only her father's capture but many other men. That night must’ve turned her whole world upside and to talk about it with people she barely knows shows her strength and courage. I'm sure this event brings tears to her eye every time she discusses it. The people who protected and helped the Wolf family are true hero’s.

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  15. I wish I could have gone on this trip! Ms. Sussman showed us pictures of Trsice from her pervious trip and the people she and her students had encountered the trip before. Such a small town with so much history behind it. There is debate on whether or not the town should be acknowledged for helping the Wolf family, but I believe they should be because it is an important time of history that should not be forgotten. When reading Otto Wolf's diary passage and how he and his family hid out in the woods, I imagined it to be someone magical with actual caves to hid in and huge trees that would protect them, but that was not the case. What they really had were just small dirt/mud caves that would protect them from being found. I wish I could have gone on this trip and hope that the last couple of days are amazing.

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  16. it must have been incredible to see the hideout where the Wolf family hid. Reading about it in class can't compare to what it must actually be like to see it in person and hear their story from people close to them.-Clare Drilling

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  17. What an incredible experience for you all to be a part of the history that was made today. I can only imagine how amazing it must have been to be there, seeing all of the townspeople come out to witness the memorial dedication ceremony. It is clear to see the role the Holocaust Study Tour has played in this historic day. It also must have been quite an experience to visit the site in which the Wolf family was hidden for all those years and in which Otto wrote his diary. Rest well tonight, as tomorrow will be another very intense day.

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  18. It sounds like a remarkable journey for everyone….the impact of actually being in these areas and experiencing what most only read about must be profound….I hope that each O'Dowd student brings back the perspective that can only be gained through this kind of experience and share it with us all….I read over the blogs and am saddened that \”holocaust\” events still take place today in the world we live in….I'm reminded of Immaculee and her experiences, and I wonder how these kinds of things can occur…safe journey the rest of the way…K. Cushing

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  19. What an amazing day this must have been for all of you. To realize that the program that you are involved in had a direct effect on memorializing what went on in Trsice. You are all part of living history and this day and this entire trip will live with you forever. You are all blessed to be on such an amazing trip. I just love this blog! My daughter went on the HST 09 before the blog and I had no clue what she was experiencing, but now through the blog we are all able to travel on this incredible journey with you. It touches and teaches so many more people which is the goal of the Holocaust Study Tour after all. Kudos to all of the educators on this trip who leave their families and give of their time and knowledge for the sake of our students. I,for one, am very grateful!

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  20. Oh,very interesting blog… Good job,amazing!If you are interested in construction of the Trsice monument or if you want photos from yesterday's event and many other things, I can send them.When began construction of the monument, I started taking photos, so I have a lot of interesting pictures.My e-mail address: Ondra9725@seznam.czMy skype account: bagr.kralik.ondraThank you for this amazing project! I wish you many nice and interesting insights from your trip!Andrew, boyscout from Tršice, Czech Republic

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  21. My day in Trsice is one that I remember vividly. The people of the community might be the warmest, most welcoming group I have ever seen. You are all so unbelievably blessed to have spent the day with them. You all (myself included) cannot even begin to comprehend the appreciation that the citizens of this tiny town have for this program. We keep their memory alive & it branches way past your day spent there today; for I still carry it over two years later.

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  22. I can only imagine how rewarding a day this must have been for all of you in Trsice! Congratulations to Mrs. Tambuscio, all of the other educators, and the other adults who worked to achieve this moving tribute. How wonderful that so many of the locals attended the event as well! For all of the students, I am sure you will always treasure the memory of this day and its importance for the Trsice community. I wish you well for the rest of the Tour. You will have so many stories to share upon your return. Safe travels!

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  23. These pictures are bringing back so many memories of our own trip. It's great that the local scouts came out and supported the group as guides again. I hope nobody made the mistake I did when you tried the salted bread, a mouth full of salt is not very pleasant!

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  24. It is so wondeful that Gayle's artwork will be in the Otto Wolf Museum! Can't wait to hear all about the high school and synagogue. Keep learning and sharing all the fantastic things you are all experiencing.

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  25. It was the time of the poor and I can see everybody getting manipulated by hitler because they were hungry they did not have the money to buy food and hitler said it was the Jewish fault because they charge so much money that why people that are Jewish started dying I can see people get manipulated by just one person I see that happening why did that had to happen hitler was just so bad he should had be punish instead of him killing himself.

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  26. That's really cool that you guys were able to visit the town that Otto was hiding out in. I would love for the chance to do that, I would also love for the chance to go on this trip, it seems like a lot of fun and seems to very informative.

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  27. In Mrs. Tambuscio's History class today we watched several of the You Tube videos. We had a great discussion with the students who enjoyed seeing the videos. Mrs. Tambuscio you are enriching the lives of the the students that are on the trip and the students that are back home in your classroom. The student are learning so much from the blog and the videos. We are all eagerly waiting for you to return and share your experience with us. Thank you for all that you do and the knowledge you share. We miss you!

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  28. Everyday I read the blog posts and everyday I see the rollercoaster of emotion that all of the students and chaperones must experience. Today for instance, you find yourselves walking through a former 15th century castle (which sounds amazing and is older then anything I have ever been in) then you hear a story told by Mrs. Ohera about her father and Uncle who were arrested, kidnapped, tortured and burned \”and how it remains so fresh in her memory.\” Then regroup to eat in a restaurant only to go to the Wolf family hideout and memorial which brings you right back into the reality of the holocaust. The ebb and flow of what you are learning and how your minds are constantly wrapping around tragedy and then unraveling again must be exhausting and I commend you for your resilience. However, it is better anyway, to be exhausted and enlightened then full of energy and unknowing. Continue to keep you eyes and minds open.

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  29. Thank you, all, for your sharing and learning. What an important reminder for all of us to carry the legacy of the martyrs of this time– both whose names we know and those we will never know. Best, Ms. Mueller

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  30. I learn so much each time I read your blog. I didn't know about the Wolf family. What an incredible story of courage and determination on the part of the Wolf family and the community that protected them. Thank you for sharing in such great detail. So glad you decided to hike to the memorial in spite of the conditions…which I'm sure made it even more memorable.

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  31. Thanks again for sharing your feelings about today. I am transported to that forest thanks to all of you. History is so important to learn so that it is never repeated !!! Keep up your reflections on this blog. I can't get enough.

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  32. I look back on my day in Trsice often. There is just SO MUCH to take in, learn, and experience. I'm glad I got to see this post and revisit this day because it really did have such an impact on me. Looking forward to reading about Dabrowa Tarnoska!

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  33. We are watching the movie Uprising in the Holocaust class and as I read the blogs, I am reminded that we need to remember those who resisted – whether is was with weapons and uprisings or with hiding and giving good/ shelter to those who need it.Thank you for sharing the stories and your reflections from the trip!

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  34. Reading through this blog I almost started to cry, for it reminded me of the stories that my great aunt would tell me about how some of my family was able to survive through the Holocaust, yet still had the tattoos that reminded them of what they went through each day. I found it to be inspiring on how a town came together to help a family for they knew what was happening was wrong. I really do wish that I was able to be on this trip but I am happy to hear about the stories and adventures that you guys are going on. Have a safe trip back!

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