“If I had been a boy, I would have been shot…” Part 8
In the last few weeks Veronika Hyks has been reading from the memoirs of Jaroslava Skleničková, an extraordinary story of survival in war. We have now reached May 1945. After nearly three years in Ravensbrück, the women of Lidice are now free, although they still face the trauma of returning home to find that the village has been wiped off the map and that all their menfolk and nearly all their children are dead. David Vaughan introduces the eighth episode.
At this stage in the book, Jaroslava Skleničková pauses to reflect. After surviving the death march from the Ravensbrück concentration camp, the women of Lidice are now free, finding shelter for a few days in the north German town of Güstrow, which is now held by the Russians, and waiting impatiently to return home. They have been through a living hell; for three years, all the women of an entire village, regardless of their age, politics or social standing, have been kept together in a single cramped barrack with scarcely enough food to survive. Before describing the pain of their return, Jaroslava reflects on what the experience of the camp meant for her, how it changed her views of human nature, of politics and of her own life. Veronika Hyks reads.