Interview with Esther Bauer (B), November 20, 1998. Interviewer: Jens Michelsen (M), minute 00:09 to 3:53

English Translation

    M Jens Michelsen: We did an interview with Esther Bauer, Beate Meyer conducted the interview
    in 1993
    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.

    Source Description

    This is an excerpt from an oral history interview with Esther Bauer conducted on November 20, 1998 by Jens Michelsen for Workshop of Memory (WdE)  Werkstatt der Erinnerung, the Oral History Archive run by the Research Centre for Contemporary History  Forschungsstelle für Zeitgeschichte. It is the second of five interviews with Esther Bauer archived at WdE. The interview was initiated by Esther Bauer during her visit to Hamburg on the occasion of the Gedenk- und Bildungsstätte Israelitische Töchterschule being named for her father, Alberto Jonas, on November 9, 1998. The recording of the entire interview (audio tape, digitized) runs to a length of 120 minutes and is of good sound quality. The audio recording has been transcribed. The transcript edited by Esther Bauer is 31 pages long. The audio recording, transcript, further interviews and personal documents and photos of Esther Bauer are archived at Workshop of Memory Werkstatt der Erinnerung under the call number FZH / WdE 112.
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    Recommended Citation

    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, <> [May 20, 2024].