The Nazis imprisoned a three-year-old girl, her parents were executed. The exceptional story was documented by students from the 9th grade

The Nazis imprisoned a three-year-old girl, her parents were executed. The exceptional story was documented by students from the 9th grade
The Nazis imprisoned a three-year-old girl, her parents were executed. The exceptional story was documented by students from the 9th grade

Pupils participated in the project Stories of our Neighbors. They had the task of documenting the fate of one of the older fellow citizens from their immediate surroundings. They discovered the unique story of the so-called Svatoboric child.

We cordially invite all loyal listeners of radio Stories of the 20th Century (and of course anyone) to the Festival of Memory of the Nation in Strahov. From Thursday, September 29 to Saturday, October 1, 2022, on the south stand of the Strahov Stadium and on the Strahov square in front of the stand, the Memory of the Nation is organizing a celebration of theater, film, music, talks, exhibitions, discussions, lectures, a parade of good food and drink, and much more. Bára Poláková, Vladimír Merta, the authors of the documentary series Stories of the 20th Century, Mikuláš Kroupa and Adam Drda, and many other personalities will perform. Admission is voluntary. Everything on the Festival of Memory of the Nation website. Here.

Alena Staňková, b. Vyhnisová, was born in 1939 in Pilsen. The grandfather and both parents joined the anti-Nazi resistance and were all arrested by the Gestapo during the first three years of the war.


Alena Staňková in 1942|photo:Post Bellum

The three-year-old girl was left alone, imprisoned by the Gestapo, first in a special facility on Jenerálka in Prague, and later in a camp for children in Svatoborice.

Grandfather – Oldřich Vyhnis, a Russian legionnaire, trained glassblower and electrician, retired officer, helped the resistance movement Defense of the Nation, which, among other things, focused on transferring refugees across the border. Her grandfather was arrested by the Gestapo in November 1940 and was imprisoned in various prisons and camps until the end of the war. Although in poor health, he lived to be freed. Alena’s parents were not so lucky.

The teacher and mandolin player used to go to Sokol, where he got to know the resistance fighters

Father Vladimír Vyhnis, a teacher at the municipal school in Kaznějov, Kamýk, Drachkov near Benešov, where the family moved with him, is said to have sung well, played the mandolin, written poems and allegedly corresponded with Vladislav Vančura. He went to Sokol, where he met other teachers, and they also led him to the anti-Nazi resistance. Mother Anna, born Kristová, graduated from a business academy and devoted herself to raising Alenka.


Alena Staňková with her parents in 1942|photo:Post Bellum

For the parents, who were thirty-one years old, the Gestapo came in the summer of 1942. They helped the resistance, indirectly the paratroopers who carried out the assassination of Heydrich, allegedly participated in the hiding and escape from the Gestapo of the resistance fighter Břetislav Lyčka, a doctor who treated Gabčík and Kubiš. The father was arrested by the Gestapo at the train station in Bystřice near Benešov, and within a fortnight in August 1942, also mother Anna. The Gestapo allowed her to give little Alenka to the Vyhnis family, i.e. to her father’s relatives. However, she soon went to a special children’s home for the children of resistance fighters in Jeneráleka, and in two years to the camp in Svatobořice.

After the Gestapo interrogations, mom and dad were transported to Terezín and then to the Mauthausen concentration camp, where the Nazis executed them in October 1942 with a pistol shot in the back of the head.


Svatobořice children in 1944|photo:Post Bellum

She remembers her itchy head from childhood

Mrs. Staňková came to Jenerálka as a three-year-old girl. She only remembers vague images: “I’m on the bed and I’m only wearing a shirt and my head is shaved to the head, full of sores because someone brought lice there, and I scratched my head so much that they just had to cut it to the head and get rid of those lice and scabs,” Mrs. Alena Staňková tells the students.


Alena Staňková hands over flowers to President Beneš, Kralovice 1946|photo:Post Bellum

She remembers that they had no paper or pencils, yet she learned to read and write. She owes it to a slightly older fellow inmate who took care of her. Her name was Naďa, and they met in a camp in Svatobořice: “I remember sitting at the table and I didn’t want any bread with jam, and Naďa was forcing me to eat, she was afraid that I would lose weight,” recalls Mrs. Alena.

Despite the relatively strict regime in the camp, there were people who visited the imprisoned children and helped them, devoted themselves to them. Alenka sat on the lap of a lady who brought picture books to the camp and they looked at the books together. That’s how Alenka learned to read. After the war, she didn’t want to go back to her relatives – the Vyhnis aunts, she didn’t remember them anymore, and especially she didn’t want to leave her best friend Naďa. But she finally persuaded her and Alenka moved in with her aunt and grandfather, the eighth grader from the Špitálská elementary school in Prague 9 tells in her successful radio report.


Posthumous presentation of the war cross to father (Alena Staňková in front), 1946|photo:Post Bellum

She studied economics and joined the Communist Party


Alena Staňková|photo:Post Bellum

Alena later studied economics at university, joined the Communist Party during her studies, got married after school, and raised a daughter and a son with her husband, also a member of the Communist Party. They lived in Prague. Alena worked at the Institute of Trade Connoisseurs in Revoluční Street. Both were expelled from the Communist Party in 1969 and fired from their jobs for disapproving of the Soviet invasion in August 1968, refusing to call it “fraternal aid”.

Stories of our neighbors is an educational project of the organization Post Bellum, Memory of the Nation. The project brings pupils closer to the totalitarian regimes of the 20th century in a different way than textbooks. Groups of students, accompanied by their teacher and a Post Bellum expert, will document the story of an interesting old person. They create a radio, television or written report from the recorded narration, some draw comics, others rehearse theater performances. Almost ten thousand pupils have already participated in the Stories of our Neighbors. If you want to support the project, you can here.


Pupils’ meeting with Mrs. Staňková|photo:Post Bellum

The article is in Czech

Tags: Nazis imprisoned threeyearold girl parents executed exceptional story documented students #9th grade

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