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Oral history interview with Premysl Josef Dobias

Oral History | Accession Number: 1995.A.1285.7 | RG Number: RG-50.149.0007

Premysl Josef Dobias describes living in Sudentenland, Czechoslovakia (Czech Republic) from 1919 to 1938; his family and their religious and political backgrounds; his education; the relations between Germans and Czechs; living standards and freedom; relations with Communists; his personal politics; the attitude of Czechoslovakian fascists; the relations with Jews; Francophile attitudes; relations with neighboring countries; visiting Berlin, Germany before the Munich crisis and the Czechoslovakian reaction to the Munich crisis in 1938; his involvement with the Czechoslovakian Resistance from 1939 to 1941; contact with senior British civil servant Charles Fish, who was sympathetic to Czechoslovakia; the beginnings of the resistance to Germans; the sight of Germans moving into the country in March 1939; German restrictions against Jews; the degree of collaboration with Germans; the start of the war and the organization of a resistance group; narrowly escaping from the Gestapo and being arrested in January 1941; being interrogated in Prague, Czech Republic; being transferred to Theresienstadt; being an inmate of Mauthausen from May 1941 to May 1945; the train journey from Linz to the camp; the characters of his fellow prisoners; beatings by the SS; arriving in the camp; being assigned to work in the granite quarry; the hospitalizations for foot infections; receiving aid from a Polish officer; witnessing the murder of inmates; how he became a Blockschreiber (in barrack number 3) and his job counting prisoners during the appels and keeping tally of the dead; the injection of gasoline into inmates’ hearts; the danger of knowing too much; aid given to him by fellow Czechs after witnessing the injection of inmates; being transferred to the main camp and his role as interpreter; the arrival of women prisoners in the spring of 1945; aid given to an English female inmate; the contact with British agents; the murder of Jewish inmates by throwing them down into the quarry in 1942; meaning of term “Muselmann”; the mutual aid amongst inmates; the Jehovah's Witnesses in the camp; the resistance organized by inmates; the story of a Czech inmate who was able to crack safes; an attempted mass escape by Soviet POWs; the degree of contact with surrounding population; the liberation of Mauthausen by US troops in May 1945; revenge taken on Kapos and the US soldiers’ stopping lynchings; the forcible repatriation of Russian prisoners; returning to Czechoslovakia and resuming his education; giving evidence at post war investigations of German war crimes; the nature of the medical experimentation on inmates at Mauthausen; the effects of being imprisoned; and the German government’s compensation for former inmates.

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Premysl J. Dobias
interview:  1989 February 21
4 sound cassettes (90 min.).
Record last modified: 2022-07-28 20:09:49
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