Jiri Pavel was born in Pilsen on March 24, 1926. His father, Leo, married the Aryan servant that Jiri’s Jewish grandparents employed on their farm. This classified him and his older brother, Hugo, as Michlinge to the second degree as they were registered with the rabbinate as members of Jewish faith. Jiri’s youngest brother was considered of the third degree as his birth was not recorded with the Rabbi. Therefore, him and his three brothers reaped the advantages of the Nazi’s Christian social world.

Nonetheless, the Third Reich’s racial policies implemented against the German Jews reached their family through their Jewish grandparents. This forced them to move to Bustehrad. Jiri continued his education, but his Michlinge heritage prevented him graduating high school. He and Hugo were deported with the last transport to Terezin on March 6 of 1943, while his younger brother was protected by his mother.

While his brother enlisted himself for a labor brigade in Germany, Jiri was sent to Auschwitz in 1944. He was then transferred to Buna/Monowitz concentration camp to complete forced labor until 1945. In preparations for a death march, he was moved to Sosnowiec subcamp. Jiri, along with the other inmates were guarded by German soldiers as they walked to Opava in terrible conditions. The surviving individuals boarded an open freight train to Mauthausen concentration camp.

The U.S. army liberated the prisoners on May 5, 1945. Jiri was taken to Prague on a truck and soon returned home to his awaiting family. Following the end of WWII, they migrated back to Prague. There he finished high school and enrolled in Charles University where he obtained a degree in journalism. Jiri worked as an antiques dealer for the remainder of his life.


Written by Emma Rieser