Josef Cetl  (Libby’s Dad)
1917-1985 Survivor of both Terezin -Theresianstadt & Buchenwald


The lovely little wooden box, was individually carved/created by my Dad during his spell in Terezin. It’s now one of my most cherished possessions.

I trust you will allow me here, to indulge myself a little on the subject of my Dad. He was living in Prague and cca. 1941 he became a member of the communist underground. The group focussed mainly on printing and distributing propaganda leaflets as well as disruption to the German authorities.  I don’t ever recall him being a “communist” in the perceived typical way.

Like many others across Europe during the 1930’s with lots of unemployment, communism was seen by many as the way forward. Resentment towards employers was also rife due mainly to dreadful and real exploitation of workers.

Captured by the Gestapo he was first sent to Terezin (Theresianstadt) and later to Buchenwald. He never at any time talked to me of his time spent in either camp, or indeed ever took me to visit Terezin, which was quite near to Prague where I grew up.

However with the arrival of his new son in law John an Englishman, he made an exception, and all three of us made the trip to Terezin. He showed no emotion and was quite matter of fact. I often wonder what was going through his mind!!

Although whilst showing us around in one slight moment of openness, he did describe one dreadful occurrence. Every day the prisoners were required to spend up to 10 hours transporting coal across a long courtyard to the boilers. In the case of the” Jewish” inmates, if just one tiny piece of coal fell from the barrow, they were forced on to their hands and knees, and told to steer with their noses the dropped piece of coal to the boilers!!!

I recall he often had trouble with his feet but he refused to elaborate……we can only guess!!

Amazing and bizarrely, Dad was given a 4 year jail term which the Germans honoured, by way of releasing him!

“Josef Cetl” a good and decent man, who (somewhat begrudgingly to begin with) consented to his only child emigrating to live in England.

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