Ivan Klíma

01.07.2011 | 00:00
Ivan Klíma

Great age also needs great murders
Another story from the Terezín ghetto is the fate of Ivan Klíma (born on September 14, 1931). He was born in Prague and is one of this country’s most widely translated authors. He is one of the leading Czech novelists, playwrights and journalists. A former dissident, co-founder of the Society of Czech Writers and the Vice-chairman of the Czech PEN Club.

He comes from a Jewish family; his father, Dr. Ing. Vilém Klíma, DrSc., was an expert in the fi eld of high-voltage electronics. His mother Marta, née Synková, remained a housewife after the birth of her sons Ivan and Jan (* 1938, now an acclaimed theoretical physicist, translator and novelist, he lives in Prague). It was autumn 1939 and the Nazis were making it clear to the Czech nation that it was time for a “new order”. The fi rst anti-Jewish measures were adopted by the end of March and society was rife with anti-Semitism.
Ivan’s father was transported to Terezín on 24th November 1941 in an AK transport (Aufbaukommando – construction squad), where 342 young men – craftsmen – had the task of preparing the barracks for the huge infl ux of people. The other transport on 10th December 1941 also brought Ivan (number L 54), his brother Jan and his mum to the Terezín ghetto. First of all they lived in barracks in Dresden, then Hamburg, and fi nally in Magdeburg, spending a year separated and then together with their father. As a specialist in the ghetto Ivan’s dad was in charge of the electrics. The two boys and their mum, who was ill for most of the time, were not deported to the East and were eventually liberated from the ghetto. Sadly, not their dad. As he was renowned throughout Europe as a high-voltage expert, before the end of the war he and two other prisoners were sent from Terezín to the Gross Rosen concentration camp with some kind of secret task. However, no one knew what this task actually was. The end of the war was in sight and the Nazis fortunately had no time for any more of their fi endish plans. Vilém was soon transferred to the camp in Mauthausen, where he spent around three days and then continued on to the Sachsenhausen camp. There he was also forced to go on a fourteen-day death march (7th April 1945), which he luckily survived, although he did not return home until the middle of June. Ivan, Jan and their mother were incredibly lucky. On 8th May 1945 their cousin appeared at the gates of the liberated ghetto and drove them and others back to Prague, to Vršovice, to their house in Ruská Street, from where they had been dragged off to Terezín three and a half years earlier. There were absolutely none of their belongings in the fl at, just things left behind by the German tenants.
In September 1945 Ivan entered the third year of grammar school and after fi nishing his studies (1951) he did a course in Czech Language and Literary Science at the Faculty of Arts at Charles University (1956). In the 1960s he worked as an editor of the periodicals Literární noviny and Listy (until they were banned). His later work was infl uenced by his working visit to the USA in 1969 and 1970. On his return he was forbidden from doing any further publishing work, so for the next twenty years he made a living mostly as a freelance writer and as a labourer. He had to publish his books either in samizdat editions or abroad. He and his wife Helena (born 1937), a psychotherapist, live in a quiet part of Prague. Their daughter Hana (born 1963) is an artist and illustrator and their son Michal (born 1960) has edited publications such as Lidové noviny. In his stories and plays Ivan Klíma has always expressed a marked distaste for our technology- ridden society, passivity and injustice. He likes hunting for wild mushrooms, enjoys being in good health, and as he himself says, does crosswords like mad.
In 2002 he was awarded the Franz Kafka Prize for his book about the life and works of Karel Čapek, entitled Velký věk chce mít též velké mordy (Great Age Also Needs Great Murders). He received the Karel Čapek Prize for his lifelong work in January 2010 and in the same year won the Magnesia Litera Award for his book Moje šílené století (My Mad Century) in the Journalism category.

For Památník Terezín Luděk Sládek


With his brother Jan before the war Before the war With Philip Roth With John Updike With Václav Havel 1965 Vaculík, Kundera, Klíma arents before the war in the Luhačovice spa Obrázek č.9



Zdeněk Ornest

Life full of twists Another story from the Terezín ghetto is the remembrance of a great actor and, above all, a great person Zdeněk Ornest. He was born in Kutná...

Přemysl Pitter

Who would have managed to do the same? It was 21st June 1895 and in Smíchov, Prague, Přemysl Pitter, later a well-known Czech priest, writer, publicist, pacifist, and social...

Ema Blažková

Ema Blažková was born in Prague, on the last day of the summer holidays in 1924, in a clerk´s family. It’s hard to tell whom she inherited her creative gifts...

Miloš Volf

When hell reigned on earth This story we did not write lightly at all. Especially because Mr. Miloš (Milouš) Volf, who it is dedicated, died in early 2014 at the age of 88...

Helga Pollaková

Helga Pollak was born in Vienna on May 28, 1930 to Otto and Frieda (née Meisel) Pollak.  Her father came from Kyjov from where he moved to Vienna. In 1916 he joined the army, got...

Rudolf Fantl

For love… The life story of the student Rudolf Fantl is another proof of the protectorate conditions during the period of the German occupation of Bohemia and Moravia. Although the...

Josef Jaroslav Beran

Catholic priest and theologian, 33rd Archbishop of Prague and Czech primas, political prisoner of two regimes, Josef Cardinal Beran was born on December 29, 1888. He was the oldest child of the...

Michael Marzell Bohin

A Halych Physician This story started to unfold in the Halych region in West Ukraine. Specifi cally, in the then Lemberg, a town nowadays called Lviv. 18 January 1895, Michael Marzell...

Jiří Baum / Anna Baumová

The Baum Siblings Anna and Jiří Baum were born in Prague, in the intellectual middle-class Jewish family of Josef and Frantisek Baum. Dad Josef Baum (* 14 June 1864), a successful...

Felix Kolmer

To Live is Forbbiden The book of the same title by Jan Rakytka describes the life story of Felix Kolmer from his childhood to the end of the WWII. It is based on his personal memories, so...

Hugo Meisl-Marom

Fate written on the wings “Coincidence does not help anyone who does not help themselves,” said Sofokles and some intricacies of human fate only prove it. That was the case...

František Sauer

He brought the whole Prague to a boil Franta Habán of Žižkov, Franta Sauer by his own name (4th December 1882– 26th March 1947), was an anarchist, saccharin smuggler, fi lm...

Anděla Dvořáková

A Few Things that Give You Strength It may not be necessary to introduce to the older readers, the Chairwoman of the Czech Union of Freedom Fighters (CUFF), Mrs. Anděla...

Otto Seidler

The story of a surviving boy … Otto Seidler was born on 5 February 1930 in Mladá Boleslav as the only child in the family of Jewish business traveler Emil Seidler (1898...

Eva Poláková Lišková

Number 73,304 reminded me of my roots Eva Poláková was born on 30th June, 1929 in a Jewish family Emil Polák (14. 7. 1895 Jičín – 1945), trader in Luže....

Zuzana Eva Miriam Růžičková-Kalabisová

This consciousness will never disappear Czech pianist, harpsichordist and musical pedagogue, a professor Růžičková, full name Mrs. Zuzana Eva Miriam...

Věra Steinová-Solarová

The dream came true Věra Steinová, married to Solar, was born on 29 May 1927 in Prague as the only child in the family of a Jewish trader. She spent her childhood with her...

Karel Pirk and Ludvík Hraba

Lives on the boundary of the seemingly impossible Two more stories from Terezín Small Fortress will be about Professor Jan Pirk (JP), a respected cardiologist and head of the...

Nataša Gollová

When Fate Takes Your Smile Even today, memories of Nataša Gollová will still bring a sincere smile to faces of those who knew her in person, or at least from the silver,...

Josef Ledeč

Dynasty of great doctors The memories of the doctor Jiří Ledeč (* 8. 8. 1923; † 26.3.2004), which I obtained from his son MUDr. Jan Ledeč, are very personal to me. Perhaps...

František Bareš

A thousand times I would rather choose death than to live as a slave František Bareš was born on November 13th, 1920 in Prague as a son of French legionnaire František...

Petr Ginz / Eva Ginzová

Ginz siblings – over obstacles to the stars Petr and Eva Ginzovi were born in Prague. Their dad Otto came from the traditional Jewish family of a rural teacher from...

Jan Munk

Surviving Was a Miracle These are the memories of Jan Munk, doctor of philosophy, PhD and the current director of the Monument of Terezín, about his mother Věra and others he...

Ruth Hálová

Dreams come true against all odds The story you are about to read is the story of a woman who is thankful for her life as well as her sister and hundreds of other people to Nicholas George...

Josef Větrovec

Romance in the reality of life Josef Větrovec‘s complex life begins to unfold on March 5, 1922 in Pilsen. He was born in the workers’ quarter, Petrohrad, which, from the end...

Letenská Anna

An actress to her last flap It’s not very often that a star of the silver screen leaves as little behind her as did the actress Anna Letenská. And yet her life story would...

Michal Kraus

The Diary of a Young Boy Our stories from the Terezín Ghetto also inherently include the memories of Michal Kraus, who lost his parents in the Nazi concentration camps. It is only...

Zdeněk Ornest

Life full of twists Another story from the Terezín ghetto is the remembrance of a great actor and, above all, a great person Zdeněk Ornest. He was born in Kutná Hora on...

Fredy Hirsch

Fair-minded Man Our next story from the Terezín ghetto is dedicated to a man who has often been referred to by those who had known him and who, like him, had experienced the hell...

Karel Poláček

He died in the place where everything began We will speak about Karel Poláček, a native of Rychnov nad Kněžnou (born 22nd March 1892), who died on 21st January 1945 not far...

Pavel Vranský

How many lives for such a life Pavel Vranský was born in Lipník nad Bečvou, where his mother’s father was a notary for many years. Pavel’s father Filip...

Arnošt Lustig / Hana Lustigová

The siblings Hana was born to Mr. and Mrs. Lustig on 20th June 1924. Her brother Arnošt was born on 21st December 1926 at 428/137 Královská Avenue (today...

Jiří Pavel Kafka

Trains of second chances Retired Lieutenant-colonel Jiří Pavel Kafka was born on 2nd May 1924 as the fi rstborn son of a Jewish lawyer. His father was twenty years older than...

Max Mannheimer

Terezín, Auschwitz, Warsaw, Dachau... Another story from the time of the Second World War is the story of a man who went through the atrocities of not only the Terezín ghetto....

Eva Štixová

Remembering me This story is somewhat diff erent to those we have told so far. It is mainly because the leading character was only eight months old when the gate of the ghetto in...

Josef Načeradský

Modesty, determination, vitality We were honoured to interview a man who reached an imposing hundred years of age in 2013. Josef Načeradský was born at 87 Trhový...

Pavel Werner

Growing up unexpectedly Another story from the Terezín ghetto is based on the memories of engineer Pavel Werner. Pavel was born in Prague on 3rd January 1932, but he grew up on...

Hana Lustigová – Greenfield

From Kolín to Jerusalem Another story, this time from the Terezín ghetto, with the memoirs of Mrs Hana Lustigová – Greenfield. She was born on November 3rd 1926...

Evžen Basch

Surviving three concentration camps More memories were shared by JUDr. Evžen Basch, a prisoner from the Small Fortress in Terezín. He was born in Prague as the fi rst child of...

Karel Beránek

Imprisoned for Nothing Another of our stories is the memories of a student from Roudnice, Ing. Karel Beránek. Karel was born on 17th December 1925 in Bílina in north-east...

Robert Bardfeld

Are Bad Times a Vulgar Term? Prof. Robert Bardfeld was born on 10th June 1925 in Dobřichovice near Prague as the only child of a mechanical engineer Simon (Simcha) Bardfeld and Marie,...

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...

Přemysl Pitter

Who would have managed to do the same? It was 21st June 1895 and in Smíchov, Prague, Přemysl Pitter, later a well-known Czech priest, writer, publicist, pacifi st, and social...

Oldřich Stránský

How much luck is needed in unlucky times? Oldřich Stránský was born on June 2, 1921, in Most to the Jewish family of a Czech grain merchant, František...

Miloš Volf

When hell reigned on earth This story we did not write lightly at all. Especially because Mr. Miloš (Milouš) Volf, who it is dedicated, died in early 2014 at the age of 88...

Anna Magdalena Schwarzová

Never-ending pilgrimage of faith Anna Magdalena Schwarzová (known as Nina) is a Czech nun – a Barefoot Carmelite. She was a religious activist, a prisoner of the Nazi and...

Evelina Merová

Curriculum Vitae number 71266 It is man’s destiny to live. One should certainly not suff er for having been born a Jew, for example. This is also true of the fate of the involuntary...

Božena Kopová

All of you who are dear to me… Another story from the Small Fortress in Terezín are the life stories of Božena Kopová (1906–1987). In the database of the...

Toman Brod

Worse than the Apocalypse… Toman Brod was born on 18th January 1929 in Prague into the family of a grain wholesaler. His dad, Arnošt, came from Bučice, while his mum Olga,...

Helga Pollaková

A man’s destiny decided on a strip of paper Helga Pollak was born in Vienna on May 28, 1930 to Otto and Frieda (née Meisel) Pollak. Her father came from Kyjov from where he...

Eva Roubíčková

Life is not a game of tennis, where you get a second serve The life story of Eva Roubíčková, who was born into a German-speaking Jewish family, begins on July 16th 1921 in...

Fedor Gál

Born to the Terezín Ghetto The person who we now wish to introduce is Fedor Gál. Unlike the other life stories his begins in Terezín on March 20, 1945. In the...

Emil František Burian

Unpredictable and troublesome Another personality who was, during the Nazi occupation, an involuntary “guest” of the Small Fortress in Terezín, was Emil...

Judith Rosenzweig

Gardens of the Terezín Ghetto We met Judith Rosenzweig in Špindlerův Mlýn, where every year she makes the long journey from Israel to meet her friends from the...

Štěpán Cardinal Trochta

The oldest son of a Wallachian farmer, Štěpán, was born in the village of Francova Lhota on Mar. 26, 1905. He started his studies at the Archbishop Grammar School in...

Miloslav Moulis

Trains Heading for the Unknown Allow us to share with you the life story of a man who began being interested in public matters at a very early age. Considering the time when he began...

Anna Flachová-Hanusová

Music is a Faithful Friend Every year a group of women, who cannot go unnoticed, meet in Špindlerův Mlýn in the autumn. Although 40 years have passed since their fi rst...

Eva Herrmannová

Opera Is My Love Allow us to introduce another personality, the former director of Opera of the National Theatre, Mrs. Eva Herrmannová. Born in Vienna (July 22, 1929), she spent...

Adolf Burger

Number 64401 Speaks During World War II, the leaders of Nazi Germany came up with a plan to obtain foreign currency. For this purpose they set up a counterfeiting plant in Sachsenhausen...

A Few Things that Give You Strength

It may not be necessary to introduce to our older generation, the Chairwoman of the Czech Union of Freedom Fighters (CUFF), Mrs. Anděla Dvořáková. Nevertheless, there are...

Marta Kottová

Don’t Be Afraid of Loudmouths When you hear the name Marta Kottová, many of you will recall the grey-haired charismatic lady who was awarded the Medal of Merit – Second...

Věra Tichánková

The Funny Side of Life It is probably not necessary to introduce Věra Tichánková, but there are periods of her life which are defi nitely worth remembering. Maybe...

Arnošt Lustig

The writer Arnošt Lustig is a next personality of our series who was arrested in the Terezín hetto duringthe Nazi occupation. He was born on December 21, 1926, in Prague-Libeň in...

Helga Weissová-Hošková

Two lives, or draw what you see Helga, the daughter of Irena and Otta Weiss, was born in Prague, on November 10, 1929. Her father (1898–1944) came from Pardubice, and mother,...

Miroslav Kubík

“I think that our family was quite average in the times of the ’fi rst republic‘. Our father worked as a construction engineer in the Czechoslovak Railways, mother...

Erik Polák

It was the year 1926, when in a Czech Jewish family in Prague Erik Polák was born. Until German Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia he had been growing up in Libeň – which used...

Věra Vacková–Žahourková

A Distressful Journey to Freedom Věra Vacková – Žahourková born to the family of a state offi cial Jaroslav Vacek and Anna, née Ohnesorgová in...

Dagmar Lieblová

Doctor Dagmar Lieblová, by birth from Kutná Hora, grew and lived in Česká street until she was thirteen years old. But her childhood was very dramatic – read the...

Ema Blažková

Ema Blažková was born in Prague, on the last day of the summer holidays in 1924, in a clerk’s family. It’s hard to tell whom she inherited her creative gifts...

Milada Horáková

a unique woman… Milada Horáková (25th December 1901– 27th June 1950) was a Czechoslovak politician who was executed for alleged conspiracy and treason...

Máte zájem
o zásílání novinek?

Zadejte Vaši emailovou adresu a zajistěte si tak aktuality z České republiky.

Nyní na Google Play
Produkt byl úspěšně přidán do košíku
Produkt byl úspěšně odebrán z košíku

Děkujeme za Vaši odpověď,

Nesouhlas se zpracováním Vašich osobních údajů byl zaznamenán.

Váš záznam bude z databáze Vydavatelstvím KAM po Česku s.r.o. vymazán neprodleně, nejpozději však v zákonné lhůtě.

Váš hlas byl započítán. Děkujeme.