Born: 1920 Prague, Czechoslovakia
Survivor : Klagenfurt Prison; Dachau Concentration Camp
Survivor Julian Hosnedl shares an unusual perspective on the Holocaust: “We were all Czechs and we didn’t like Germans because they were occupying our country and killing our people... they even named our country Protektorat Bohemia and Moravia. Hitler had a very secret plan that they would move all Czechs to Patagonia in South America... that was the reason we started working against Nazis.”
Julian was an employee of Royal Dutch Shell when Germany invaded Czechoslovakia in 1939. When his boss, Mr. Sharp, disappeared, he realized something was happening to the Jews. Then the Germans began drafting young men into forced labor. They sent Julian to Klagenfurt, Austria, to stockpile warehoused food. He and five disgruntled co-workers began sending word of military activities to the Allies, leaving notes in a “dead box” near the border to Italy. In April 1944, they were put into a Gestapo prison with Jehovah’s witnesses and Austrian and Yugoslavian partisans.
Six months later, weak from hunger, Julian was taken to Dachau. Before he was deloused and interviewed, he watched 40,000 prisoners leave for work through the “Arbeit Macht Frei” gate. When asked his profession, Julian blurted out “cook” in hopes of finding his way to a kitchen. He was sent to cook at a remote ski lodge holding political prisoners. At war’s end, he and others were able to aid a group of nearly starved, Hungarian Jewish women who had walked through the mountains from Ravensbrück concentration camp.
Julian returned to Prague. In 1968, when Russian tanks rolled into Prague, he fled Czechoslovakia for Canada.