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January 23, 2022



Last survivor of Czech students sent to Sachsenhausen concentration camp has passed away in the Czech Republic

3.9.2019 6:41
Vojmír Srdečný (PHOTO: Paměť národa)
Vojmír Srdečný (PHOTO: Paměť národa)

Dr. Vojmír Srdečný, the last living survivor of the Czech students deported to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, has passed away at the age of 99. Czech Television reported receiving the news last month from the chair of the Association of Liberated Political Prisoners and their Relatives (Sdružení osvobozených politických vězňů a pozůstalých), Zdeňka Valouchová.

As a student he was deported to Sachsenhausen during the Nazi persecution of college students in Czechoslovakia in 1939. His funeral was held in Prague on Friday, 23 August 2019.

According to the Memory of Nations (Paměť národa) project, he was born on 6 October 1919 in Albrechtice nad Orlicí in East Bohemia. In the year 1939 he applied to the Institute for Educating Professors of Physical Education (Ústav pro vzdělávání profesorů tělesné výchovy) in Prague and was accepted.

He was living at the Švehlova Dormitory when, five weeks into the first year of his studies, the Germans raided it on 17 November 1939. Along with hundreds of other students, he was deported to the concentration camp of Sachsenhausen-Oranienburg.

After one year, one month and one day he and another 200 students were released. After he returned to Albrechtice in December 1940 he worked as an insurance company trainee, and two years later he was forced to work in the Guss-und Metallgesellschaft factory in Holice.

After the war, as part of the 17 November 1939 History Group, he contributed to compiling the names of all the deported students. He also worked with physically disabled people the rest of his entire life.

In 1947 he joined the Rehabilitation Institute in Kladruby, where he established the Kladruby Games for the Physically Handicapped, among other matters. In 1949 he had to leave Kladruby, but soon found a job as a rehabilitation worker at the state-owned spa in Velké Losiny, where he dedicated himself to treating patients with polio.

In 1959 he returned to Kladruby. He was the chair of the Union of Physically Handicapped Athletes and worked for more than 30 years at the Pedagogical Faculty in Hradec Králové.

In May of this year Dr Srdečný was awarded the Dr. František Ulrich Prize by the Hradec Králové Town Hall for his lifelong educational activity and his development of sports for people living with disabilities. He chaired the 17 November 1939 History Group as part of the Czech Freedom Fighters' Union (Český svaz bojovníků za svobodu) and in April 2010 became a member of the International Committee of the Sachsenhausen Memorial.

Every 17 November he attended the commemoration ceremony at the Hlávkova Dormitory, where people commemorate the closing of Czechoslovakia's universities by the Nazi occupiers on 17 November 1939 and honor the death of the student Jan Opletal, who was shot at a Czechoslovak Independence Day rally on 28 October 1939, and the other executed and tortured students. Last year Dr Srdečný was unable to attend the ceremony for health reasons.

ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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