The unknown story of 80 Czech Jewish teenagers started with one photo – the photo of Czech Jewish girl Helenka, published in October 2010 in Czech newspapers, Lidove noviny.
Helenka (on photo) was a Czech Jewish girl. She was 18 years old, when she had to go to transport in 1942. Before departure she went to a photographer, paid for her portrait, and then never picked up it. Judita Matyasova, journalist of main Czech daily Lidove noviny published this story, expecting that nobody would remember Helenka, but after few days, she got a call. “I am Zuzana Lederer, I am Helenká’s cousin.” said the lady. Matyasova met Zuzana, and after 68 years Helenká’s photo was given to right hands. Zuzana said: “I am the only one survivor from our family. I was chosen by my mother, sent to Zionist courses, together with 80 Czech Jewish teenagers, we spent wartime together in Denmark and Sweden, but we lost contacts between us, I wish to see my friends from wartime”.
In 2011 Judita Matyasova founded a group of experts to deal with mapping the Czech destinies abroad. The project was called “Sophie’s choice, the Czech way”, and it documents the lives of 80 Jewish teenagers who left Czechoslovakia in 1939 for Scandinavia. These teenagers had spent three years together in foster families in Denmark before having to flee for Sweden in 1943. Most had lost touch for 70 years, and he story of this group has never been documented before.
The main activity of Judita Matyasova and her team is the documentation of the “teenager’s” destinies – these “teens” are in their nineties and live all around the world. Judita and her team managed to track down 30 of these “teenagers” who were living in Europe, America and Israel. Here you can see one of our results, a photo of the reunion after 70 years.
But...without your help it is difficult to continue.
Why? ... Our team of volunteers have worked three years on this project completely as a volunteers. We paid all the costs for research, travels, scanning, filming, recording all from our very small private sources. We do this research all around the world, because we believe in importance of this story.