M Jens Michelsen: We did an interview with Esther Bauer, Beate Meyer conducted the
B Esther Bauer: Yes.
M : ...and now you are visiting Hamburg again. You had been here
a few times in the meantime and you said you would like to
tell us a little more. What was your motivation to give us another account?
B: Well (laughs slightly), my husband Werner Bauer was terribly jealous.
M Jens Michelsen: Mhm
B: And what I didn’t tell you was that I got married in Theresienstadt.
M : Oh yes?
B: I met the young man Hanuš (Honza) Leiner (1914–1945?) was deported in 1941 from Prague, his place of birth, to Theresienstadt. According to Esther Bauer, he was active in Theresienstadt as a cook. Hanuš Leiner was deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau on 28.9.1944. This transport comprised 2,488 persons; 2,015 did not survive. on the first day when we were marched into Theresienstadt.
He was a cook and a Czech, of course he didn’t speak a word
of German and I didn’t speak a word of Czech. And we were ...uhm... put in the attic
of a barracks.
M : When you’ve got problems, just drop into English, it’s no problem.
B: Yes, we/we had to walk up to the attic – the attic of this barracks
was terribly dirty, no walls. We were about a thousand people from
Hamburg, men, women, and children all together, no beds, nothing to sit on,
just the floor. And as we walked past this kitchen, I saw that this young
man Hanuš Leiner was looking at me. And as a girl you know, he’ll come after me (laughs slightly).
And that’s what he did. And of course I couldn’t speak to him since we
didn’t speak the same language. So we always needed someone else to
translate for us. I was friends with him for months. I then learned
Czech and he helped me a lot. He always gave me a little more
food, and to my mother Marie Jonas, née Levinsohn as well. And his brother was a carpenter. He actually was
an architect, but in Theresienstadt he became a carpenter again. He made beds
for us, and we were five or six women, with my mother Marie Jonas, née Levinsohn, in one
room. So we no longer had to live in the barracks. That was later,
of course. And in October ’44 we got married. We were told that
the vows would have to be repeated after – that is, in case of – the liberation,
that this marriage was only valid inside the ghetto and not outside of it. And
three days later (clears her throat), since there was constant terror, some people
were sent away, including my husband Hanuš Leiner. It was said that a new ghetto was built
near Dresden. And so a few weeks or a
week later we were told that the wives of these men were allowed to follow their husbands.
Since I had only been married for three days I went, of course. I must be
one of very few people who voluntarily went to Auschwitz. For we never got to
see Dresden. My husband Hanuš Leiner didn’t either. What I heard later was that he was sent to Auschwitz
and didn’t survive. And of course I ended up in Auschwitz as well (inhales deeply).
There, I think I told you this before, I was selected for a
transport to Freiberg in Saxony. We built airplanes there.
With the kind permission of the Workshop of Memory at the Research Centre for Contemporary History in Hamburg.
Interview with Esther Bauer (B), November 20, 1998. Interviewer: Jens Michelsen (M), minute 00:09 to 3:53 (translated by Insa Kummer), edited in: Key Documents of German-Jewish History, <https://dx.doi.org/10.23691/jgo:source-3.en.v1> [July 27, 2017].