Jaro Křivohlavý

10.10.2012 | 00:00
Jaro Křivohlavý

Violinist, sokolist and psychologist

„My name is Křivohlavý, which is not to be used as the adjective Crooked Head. My fi rst name’s Jaro, for which I have the authorities to thank. I was originally to have been named Borek, but at the district offi - ce in Litoměřice they told my dad that I couldn’t be called that, as the name is not on the calendar. So my father borrowed an official calendar and found 21st March: jaro (spring). So his name will be Jaro, said the clerk, that’s on the calendar.“
Jaro Křivohlavý was born on 19th March 1925 in Třebenice. He was an only child, but grew up in a house full of children. His father Karel came from Svatý Jan pod Skalou and he courted his mother, Anna Preisová, from a village near Třebenice. His father loved art, so from an early age Jaro played the violin and read a lot. He attended elementary school in Třebenice, actually the same school and class that his granddaughter would go to eighty years later. He went on to the Josef Jungmann Grammar School in Litoměřice, where he travelled every day by train.
He saw Munich and the events that followed from the viewpoint of Třebenice. He went to exercise at the Sokol there. At that time around 30% of the people in Třebenice were Germans, who had the Germania, which was their own social centre with a gym where young Germans used to exercise. Although the spirit in the town had been friendly up to then, with the Czechs speaking German and vice-versa, something had changed. The Sudetenland had been annexed and the German army stood over Třebenice. When Jaro began riding his bike to the grammar school in Roudnice, he had to go round the occupied territories, which was a journey of 60 km a day. However, there came Saturday 20th June 1942. It was after the Heydrich assassination, the school year had come to an end, and all of a sudden the school was swarming with German uniforms. The students had to go out into the courtyard. The whole of year seven, 20 boys from Jaro’s year six and the whole of the second year from the nearby school of industry (84 students in all), were loaded into a cargo truck which took them away to the Small Fortress in Terezín the very same day. No one had any idea why.
There they stood facing the wall until evening, then they were locked away in isolation; the same thing happened on the second day, until they had gone through the induction process and been placed in mass cells. Jaro ended up in cell no. 6 fi rst, and later in no. 26. He recalls how the offi cers played some unpleasant games with them at the interrogation. “Look out of the window”, the interrogator would tell them. “Those standing over to the right of the pump have confessed and we’re releasing them today. On the left are those who refused to confess, and we’re going to shoot those today.” At fi rst he did ancillary work in the fortress gardens, then was later assigned to work groups which had to walk to Litoměřice, from where they were taken to the railway station in Ústí nad Labem. All day long they boxed up sleepers and then in the evening had to trudge back on foot from Litoměřice to Terezín. Several times they were sent to work in the Glanzstoff werke factory in Lovosice, where he and his friends Tůma and Berdfeld had to clean up the sludge from the entire factory. Up to their waists in a pit they collected up everything that fl owed out of the factory. What is ironic is that all three later became university professors. An even more profound experience was when one guard sent Jaro back to the sludge pit for the haversack he had forgotten. All that was between him and freedom was a wire fence, but he knew the risk of possible escape and so went back with the haversack.
After three months groups of around ten Roudnice students began to be sent away from Terezín, some to Buchenwald, others to Auschwitz and elsewhere. Jaro set out on his journey on 30th September 1942, but “just” to the Kladno Gestapo. On the same day he was taken from there to the Anna Laura mine in Velké Strašecí and three days later to the mine in Dubí, near Kladno (now Prago). On May the fi rst he descended the shaft as usual, but after his shift he jumped on his bike and headed for Třebenice, where everything was still the same. There were just some German units passing through the town on the way to Žatec. But after just three days it all erupted in Třebenice, too. Jaro returned once more to Terezín, this time not as a prisoner, but as a volunteer medic. In the summer holidays he completed his studies at Roudnice Grammar School, passed his leaving exams and in autumn entered the Faculty of Philosophy at Charles University in Prague.
In 1948 he passed the Cambridge Proficiency Exam, and a year later completed his course to become a grammar school teacher. In 1950 he was awarded a doctorate of philosophy and took a position with the Czechoslovak Labour Institute, where he remained until 1967. In the meantime he still found time to marry Marta Novotná from Bohumilice.
In 1966 he became a sciences candidate and a year later was made redundant for political reasons, so he joined the Physicians Further Education Institute. He lectured at the Faculty of Philosophy at Charles University, became a member of the Synodal Council of the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren, and became an assistant professor (1976). He has worked at universities in Leipzig and Innsbruck, and lectured in Sweden, Norway, Germany, Poland, Russia, Hungary, Italy, Venezuela and South Korea, as well as at the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Prague. He headed the health psychology and quality of life section of the Czechoslovak Psychological Society, completed his habilitation as a professor and became a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. He was a member of the board of directors of ADRA and since 2002 has lectured at the Faculty of Social Sciences at the Faculty of Arts at Charles University in Brno. He can speak several foreign languages and is the author of many specialised publications. He has three children, Jaromír (1953), Marta (1956) and Pavel (1968); he adopted the orphans Alice and Pavel (1969) and now also has eight grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren.

 

Luděk Sládek for the Terezín Memorial


Jaro on his mother's lap, Třebenice (1925) Graduation photo (1945) About a month before being arrested by the Gestapo (1942) In military uniform (1953) Obrázek č.0 Obrázek č.0



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