Up to now, Ferdinand Mandelík has been “just“ one of my ancestors. However, the task to write something about a person who has something in common with our planned trip or with myself brought me an opportunity to get to know my great-great-grandfather better.
The wedding photo presented to you shows Ferdinand Mandelík with his newlywed. This photo is more than a hundred years old and comes from my great-great-grandfather and my great-great-grandmother´s wedding day. The newly-married couple are wearing wedding clothes, and their faces are looking very serious. Numerous painful events were interwoven into my great-great-grandfather’s life.
Ferdinand Mandelík was born, as the youngest one out of fifteen children, on July 9th 1879 in Nové Dvory (coincidentally, that was exactly 88 years before my mum was born). Four of his little brothers died before they reached the age of one. Ferdinand Mandelík had ten elder sisters about whose life I know nothing. Ferdinand Mandelík himself became a merchant and owned a grocery shop. He and his wife had two children – a son and a daughter. The son died of tuberculosis at the age of twenty. His daughter and my great-grandmother, Otýlia Mandelíková, later escaped death thanks to her physician´s kindness and support – before the planned transport to Terezín, he put her body in plaster. As a result, she was then unable to leave hospital, she could not be involved in mass transports to concentration camps, which saved her life.
Ferdinand Mandelík’s wife was not able to cope with her son´s death, and she passed away before the war. My great-great-grandfather was forced to wear the Star of David and was forced to stop his business in his grocery shop. Later, on June 5th 1942 he was deported in transport No. 531 to the labour camp in Terezín. Then, on December 6th 1942 he was deported in transport No. 603 to the concentration camp in Trawniki, where he was killed.
Nowadays, my great-great-grandfather´s name can be found in the Pinkas Synagogue, where it is listed together with other seventy-seven thousand names of Czech Jews who perished in concentration camps. Considering my mother’s ancestors, I am obviously Jewish. I cannot guess whether I would be able to cope with and overcome just one of the strokes of fate my great-great-grandfather suffered in his life. The least I can do is to visit the Pinkas Synagogue, to try to find my ancestor’s name and not to forget the events that are part of my family’s history.