Gertruda Kowanitzova with her mother, aunts and cousins

Gertruda Kowanitzova with her mother, aunts and cousins

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This picture was taken in the 1920s, before I was born.

From left to right standing are: my aunt Milca, Elza, Irma, my mum Augusta Kovanicova, nee Spitzova, aunt Pesa and Hilda and their children.

My sister Gertruda Kowanitzova, nee Kovanicova, is the second child from the right.

My paternal grandparents had nine children together: Arnost, Irma, Leo, Elza, Petr, my father Pavel, Zdenek, Ota and Olga.

My mum made friends with my dad's sister Elza and it was through her that she met him. Elza was actually my mother's best friend.

Dad often used to say how they had been together at some gathering and that he accompanied all the girls home but took Mum home only at the end, because he liked her.

Even back then, when I was little, I used to ask myself why he didn't take her home first if he liked her. They had a Jewish wedding and were married by Rabbi Reach.

My sister was born in 1921 in Prague. She was seven years older than me. I think she went to a Czech high school and then to a private school of advertising.

She then got a job in an office somewhere and drew for fashion magazines, from which she earned a living on the side. She was very clever and good with her hands. She could speak French and German and was really smart and beautiful. She could also play the piano, even though we didn't have one.

Mum was really skilful - she made clothes for us and she always sewed something for me with whatever material was left from a dress she had just made for my sister.

Needless to say, my sister wasn't happy about this - she said she went around in the same clothes as I did and that everyone would see the brat was my sister - because when she went on a date, I used to loiter behind her with a friend.

In fact, we liked each other a lot, but we only realized this during the war, when it was too late for everything.

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Interviewee

Anna Hyndrakova